Pulling off a successful event like the 87th Vermont Farm Show held once again at the Champlain Valley Exposition is no small feat. Event manager Jackie Folsom had five years to learn the ropes. She described the three-day event as bursting at the seams.
The first day of the show, Folsom had a waiting list for 150 vendor spots for 2018. Numbers of attendees were also up by approximately 500, she noted. The maple syrup industry was represented well as small-scale farmers brought much of Vermont’s agricultural history and future.
Conversations about diversification and value add products ruled the exposition. One of the dairy farms that has taken steps to diversify was the Kingdom Creamery in East Hardwick, Vermont. They milk 400 cows which produce 4,000 gallons of milk per week. They make over 40 flavors of ice cream, 15 flavors of yogurt and three flavors of soft serve. To boost their bottom line in 2016, they started bottling and surpassed their sales goals that year.
The second day proved to be the busiest with many association meetings including the Future Farmers of America competitions as well as Consumer Night. That early evening, visitors got to tour, taste and buy Vermont produce in the Buy Local Market with more 50 farmers and producers of meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables, milk and maple syrup.
The annual Capitol Cook-off kicked off where competitors presented entries that Folsom described as a “Mystery Box with Mystery Meat.” The competing cooks found unique ingredients for their local dishes via the Buy Local Market. The Agriculture Agency team defended their title with a dish of Venison Sliders and Oyster Sauce, named “Wilde Kaleidoscope Au Prancing.”
The Vermont Technical College and The University of Vermont (UVM) Farms 2 plus 2 Program offers scholarships for a degree program in either Animal Science or Agriculture and Resource Management. Graduates who can make a seamless transition from dairy farm or agribusiness management at VTC to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at UVM. Folsom noted that the Farm Show vendors had collectively donated $5,000 to the scholarship fund.