This summer, the United Soybean Board and state soybean boards in nine states are kicking off the Green Ribbon Fairs project by using and promoting soybean-based products. The products range from paints used to spruce up buildings to biodiesel used for carnival ride power generators.
The Green Ribbon program reimburses use of soy-based biodiesel, paint and dust suppressants and promotion of these green [environmentally beneficial] products through signage and media outreach. Three of the 11 fairs are in New York and Maryland. The others are in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. All together, USB officials expect to reach about 2.6 million fairgoers.
In New York State, the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair, in Cobleskill, and the Dutchess County Fair, in Rhinebeck, will be participating and receiving $6,000 and $7,000, respectively. The Dutchess County Fair has been using soy-based products since 2008, reports Steve Van Voorhis, president of the New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association, which administers the state soybean checkoff program.
"We want to be environmentally friendly," says Dutchess County Fair Manager Robert Grems. "I always say, it does not make sense to showcase agriculture and not be a good friend of the environment. We are proud of our green initiative that's now part of our mission and master plan for the Dutchess County Fairgrounds."
In Schoharie County, the list of soy-based products goes well beyond biodiesel. It includes insulation foam used in the construction of the new fairgrounds security office and waterless urinals.
The urinals will be used for the first time this year. If they and their water-saving qualities are successful, more probably will be installed next year, says Doug Cater, president of the Cobleskill Agricultural Society that organizes the Schoharie event.
Maryland goes a step farther
The Maryland State Fair at Timonium will use nontoxic soy-based dust suppressant to limit the spread of dust throughout the grounds. And the Maryland Association of Agriculture Fairs Shows and Festivals is launching its own green program, unrelated to Green Ribbon Fairs.
MAAFS' "Champions for Green" promotion at all fairs, shows and festivals will award a souvenir "Champions for Green" ribbon to those who submit photo entries of environmentally beneficial practices at their fairs. "We have a responsibility to be ahead of the curve and become advocates for regenerative environmental practices," says Lynn Talbert, MAAFS president.
To receive the ribbon, the photo plus a brief narrative must show how the event "leads with green". Email the information to [email protected] or mail to MAAFS, P.O. Box 188, Timonium, Md. 21094. Entries must include fair name, contact info, address of the fair and a brief description.