Children petted fuzzy chicks, watched honey ooze from a bee hive and shopped at a make-believe farmer's market in a “city” in the middle of the Oklahoma State Fair on Friday.
The City of AGtropolis, an interactive exhibit in the Oklahoma Expo Hall, drew both the young and young at heart for firsthand experiences of farm life.
Sheena Dobbs, of Cordell, smiled as she watched her three children peer at baby chicks in one area of the exhibit.
When FFA volunteer Kriston Niblack, 16, of Luther, offered to let Carter Dobbs touch a tiny chick, the 4-year-old's eyes grew wide with wonder as his mother looked on.
“My kids love this,” Sheena Dobbs said.
“They're so cute and fluffy,” she said of the baby animals.
Live animals such as the chicks seemed to be a huge part of the AGtropolis attraction, along with the Honey Bee Haven bee exhibit, adult chickens and roosters in the “Egg Plant,” a Butterfly Birthing Center and a make-believe farmer's market. The exhibit was manned by helpful FFA volunteers like Niblack who said they enjoy bringing farm-related experiences to city slickers.
Amanda Wallace and her daughter, Leila, 5, of Shawnee, watched a honey extraction demonstration with interest Friday.
When Rick Schantz with the Central Oklahoma Beekeepers Association gave fairgoers an opportunity to taste the honey from his bees, the mother-daughter duo didn't hesitate to catch some of the sweet substance on their fingers as it drizzled from a spout.
“I think it was great,” Leila said.
“I liked the honey.”
Wallace said she grew up on a farm and visiting the AGtropolis area has become a family tradition because “it feel likes coming home.”
Other fairgoers also proved that the on-the-farm experiences are not just for youths.
Carole Sullivan, 68, of Edmond, and Lexus Shearburn, 20, of Oklahoma City, were among the adults who watched bees crawling around in bee hives in the Honey Bee Haven.
“I always run away from them or swat at them, but I'm really educated about bees now,” Shearburn said. “Now I have love for bees.”
Schantz, who has bee hives east of Harrah, said he thinks the bee exhibit at the fair helps to promote beekeeping.
“Our club is trying to get youth interested in beekeeping,” he said. “In many ways, it's a lost art.”
Meanwhile at the AGtropolis farmer's market, young people such as Patrick Sims, 5, of Oklahoma City, were taught a hands-on lesson about how produce and other items make their way from the farm to their local market.
Children plucked apples from a make-believe tree or grabbed eggs from faux hens, then sold their farm wares for farmer's market money.
The young people traded the pretend money for candy as they turned in their farmer's apron at the market's exit.
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