Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ag Day booth keeps CP staff busy

The State Fair kept some of us busy on the weekend: Saturday was Ag Day and a few of us volunteered to work the Capital Press booth.

Working the booth from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. can be an interesting time of evening. We can watch people stagger out of the pavilion after watching the bullriding events. We saw the long line-ups of people at nearby food booths. And we found ourselves bombarded by important questions like where can people catch taxis, where’s the nearest automated teller and where are the nearest toilets.

It’s nice to have a purpose in life, a reason to feel needed and useful in this day and age.

In our booth, we raised money for our important Newspaper in Education program, which helps get our newspapers into high schools so the next generation can learn about agriculture.

We did different things to raise money: We had a game for kids to pick a floating duck for $1 and win a surprise prize. We sold t-shirts, cookbooks and model trucks. We gave away free bumper stickers and posters. Heck, we would have offered to sing if people would have paid us to do so — or pay us even more to then stop singing.

During the day our staff, as well as guests like spouses and family members that we encouraged to help us, worked the booth and met a lot of great people.

It was wonderful to talk to the little kids, as well helped them play our game or sometimes as we just listened to them as they excitedly told us about what they saw and did that day. Some carried stuffed animals they, or their parents, had won.

“I call this one Fish Stripes,” said one young lad, clutching a big blue fish with red stripes. “Because he has stripes.”

I thought to myself that his parents probably appreciated a nice easy name like that to remember for the future.

His sister also had her prize, a soft teddy bear with sparkly fur.

“What’s his name?” I asked.

“Sparkles,” she replied, matter-of-factly.

Of course.

There were subscribers who told us how much they loved our newspaper, and let us know if they wanted to renew or buy an ad. Some searched our cookbooks for former recipes they’d seen in the newspaper, while letting us know how much they appreciated a good bread pudding recipe.

One young woman who bought one of our t-shirts had just come the barns where she had shown sheep, and the next day she would be showing Jersey cattle. She didn’t have much time, but definitely wanted to get one of our shirts during her break.

Our most popular item? Our bumper stickers that state: “Have you fed your kid today? Hug a farmer.” The people who wanted these stickers the most? Young guys from farms. Usually they grinned and asked if they could have one, or possibly two stickers, for their half-ton trucks. It was either for both bumpers, or for more than one truck.

One can tell these guys were anticipating a lot of hugs in the future. Well-deserved, of course.

Thanks to everyone who visited our booth on Sept. 1, and especially for supporting our NIE program. If you missed your chance to buy one of our t-shirts or cookbooks, let us know. Contact us (1-800-882-6789) and we’ll gladly sell you these products to get more newspapers into classrooms this fall.

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