Virginia’s ‘largest outdoor classroom’ educates and entertains

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(Doswell)—Educational entertainment is a staple of the State Fair of Virginia, often called “Virginia’s largest outdoor classroom.”

More than 10,000 preschool through high school students enjoy Educational Expo field trips to the fair each year. During this year’s fair, which will run Sept. 27 through Oct. 6, Virginia’s Standards of Learning will come to life as students receive hands-on experiences exploring agriculture, natural resources, history and technology.

At the Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom exhibit, students will be able to identify Virginia farm products and correctly match agricultural commodities with byproducts, identify regions of the state where agricultural products are grown, and identify stages of plant production and harvest. These activities satisfy science and social studies SOLs.

At Virginia State University’s Fish World exhibit, students will learn biochemical principles that satisfy a biology SOL.

These same exhibits will be on view for all fairgoers.

“We know everyone loves the fair for its food, rides and attractions, but just as many fairgoers are excited to learn new things when they visit,” noted Stuart Sanders, the fair’s assistant executive director. “This year’s fair has plenty of educational exhibits and opportunities for our guests to be entertained as they learn.”

Professor Newton and Kidz Science Safari is a perfect example of entertainment with an educational twist. The show features STEAM-based, interactive science experiments presented by a veteran in children’s educational entertainment. After each performance, audience members can check out the hands-on Kidz Science Safari exhibits related to magnetism, conductivity and dinosaurs.

Those who want to communicate with people in other countries through audiovisual technology can visit the Richmond Portal. The gold shipping container connects Virginians to other cities around the world, making participants feel like they’re in the same room with people on other continents.

In the Natural Resources Dominion Classroom, Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Marine Resources Commission will offer fairgoers the chance to see and touch snakes, salamanders, horseshoe crabs and marine fish. From Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, the DGIF and The Wildlife Center of Virginia will display live owls, hawks, falcons and eagles. Show times are 11 a.m. and 1, 3 and 5 p.m. daily.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation will offer gold panning and teach archery and fishing skills to fairgoers. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will give fairgoers the chance to examine solar panels and view a stream that showcases the importance of plants. Other educational displays in the Natural Resources Area will be provided by the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Department of Historic Resources, the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

In the Sunbelt Rentals Thrill Pit, the Virginia Loggers Association will showcase the state’s third-largest industry as they chop, drop and roll logs using their large equipment.

In Heritage Village, fairgoers can watch demonstrations by blacksmiths, glass blowers, spinners and crafters of banjos and violins. And in the SouthLand Dairy Farmer Center, fairgoers can learn how to hand milk a cow. They also may see a calf being born.

Ticket information, an online ticket purchase site and a complete, searchable fair schedule are available at StateFairVa.org.

The 2019 State Fair of Virginia will run from Sept. 27 through Oct. 6. Information is available at StateFairVa.org.

The State Fair is held each fall at its permanent home at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County and attracts 250,000 fairgoers. The event celebrates the best of Virginia’s past, present and future through scholarship initiatives, creative programming and a focus on the commonwealth’s agriculture and natural resources industries.