Friday, September 25, 2015

Washington State Fair opportunity to ‘tell our story’

Communications Office

In the age of Facebook, Twitter and blogs, is a booth at a fair or trade show still relevant for government agencies to reach the public and stay connected? While many choose social media to learn what’s happening, the WSDA booth at this year’s Washington State Fair in Puyallup presented another way of sharing information about our programs that support agriculture and a sound environment.

Volunteers from many WSDA programs talked with fairgoers about the threat of gypsy moth, ways to protect bees, and how large agriculture is in the Evergreen State. It was a perfect setting for these topics, situated as we were in the Ag-Hort/Floral Tent, among giant pumpkins, gorgeous flowers and artfully-constructed displays presented by Washington State Grange members.

Rickie Lehto and Jeff Britt at booth
“The majority of visitors I met were interested in the noxious weed materials and our board reflecting the different commodities throughout the state,” said Amber Robertson, Human Resource consultant and agency recruiter. “I thought our booth was very well done and had a variety of different reference materials.”

Director Derek Sandison staffs the booth.
A USDA booth adjacent to ours stressed the importance of keeping various pest insects, plant diseases and animal health threats contained. In that regard, both USDA and WSDA had information about avian influenza and how to “spread the word, protect your birds” with information for bird owners, consumers and veterinarians.

WSDA field veterinarians have been visiting various fairs across the state to test poultry and other birds for avian influenza and other diseases, even fairs that have opted out of testing in the past.

Tacoma visitor at fair since 1934!
WSDA also showed its support for 4-H and FFA. WSDA fairs program coordinator Henri Gonzales accompanied Fairs Commissioner Debbie Adolphsen to present ribbons. The commissioner evaluated the youth organizations for their skills in grooming animals, keeping stalls and pens clean and decorated, their showmanship and ability to discuss their projects.

“We met so many good kids dedicated to their animals and really enjoyed the beef exhibitors for being so friendly and helpful,” Henri said.

Many visitors told us they have been to the fair numerous  times over the years. One woman from Tacoma told us she has come to the fair every year since 1934. Here's hoping she stops by our booth again next year.