By Ryan Cornell
As a farmer, Paul Anderson knows all of the stereotypes.
"A lot of people look at farmers as wearing a pair of coveralls with a piece of straw out of their mouth plowing a field," he said. "They don't realize the economic impact they have."
Unlike the mental picture, that impact is nothing to laugh at. According to the Frederick County Farm Bureau, the county is home to more than 670 farms and the annual sales of its products generate nearly $28 million.
Anderson, president of the Farm Bureau, said agriculture and forestry is the third largest industry in Frederick County and the largest in Virginia.
To help people understand the importance of agriculture in the community, the Farm Bureau is hosting its second annual Main Street Agriculture fair on the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The event is free and will highlight the different types of agriculture producers who make up the backbone of Frederick County. Anderson said more than 20 spaces will be filled by farmers and other vendors, including Marker-Miller Orchards, West Oaks Farm Market, Rodeo Bee Co., Garber's Ice Cream, a Christmas tree farm and a producer of ground limestone.
Farmers' markets offering fruits, vegetables, plants, herbs, honey, wine and dairy products will be available, not only to sell their produce, but also to educate visitors on what's locally available.
"People will get surprised sometimes that their food doesn't come from a grocery store," Anderson said.
Four downtown restaurants will offer cooking demonstrations, using locally grown ingredients, throughout the day,
Linda Lay and the Springfield Exit and the Hampshire County String Band will perform bluegrass music at the event. Activities for children include pony rides, pumpkin painting and a straw-bale maze for pedal tractors.
Anderson said one new feature at this year's fair is an "Ask a farmer" booth, where people can have their questions answered by eight local farmers who will rotate throughout the day.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org