Merced fair wins two national Awards of Excellence

The Merced County Fair received two first place Agricultural Awards of Excellence from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, headquartered in Springfield, Mo.

The fair’s “Wetlands, Water & Wildlife” feature exhibit took first place honors in the “Green Program” category for fairs with up to 100,000 in attendance. The exhibit showcased the thousands of acres of grasslands and wetlands in western Merced County used for farming, wildlife conservation and preservation, with an emphasis on what agriculture is doing to enhance conservation efforts.

The interactive exhibit gave fairgoers the sights, sounds, smells and feel of the grasslands and wetlands to show the impact of this major migratory stop for birds.

The fair also won first place in the “Special Agricultural Exhibit for the Fairgoing Public” category for “Mr. Duck’s Wild Ride, A Wetland Odyssey.” This exhibit was a Rube Goldberg-like contraption designed to be a fun way to interpret the fair’s theme and the importance of water in the San Joaquin Valley.

The 2010 Agricultural Awards of Excellence are sponsored by John Deere. There are a total of 13 Agricultural Award categories which are evaluated and judged by a team of industry leaders. The awards were presented during the IAFE Agricultural Awards Breakfast on Nov. 30 during the 119th annual convention in Las Vegas.-- Carol Reiter