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Will trade food for fair admission

| Tuesday, July 27, 2004

On one special day during the Fayette County Fair, people will get in for free while helping their county neighbors at the same time.

For the first time, the fair will have Fayette County Food Bank Day to take place on Tuesday, Aug. 3.

Admission to the fair will be free to each person who donates at least three cans of food.

The time frame for receiving donations is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the free admission does not include the carnival or the Outdoor Arena.

The Food Bank has been working with the Fayette County Fair for years, according to Kary Coleman, Senior Resource Consultant for the Fayette County Community Action Agency Food Bank.

Since 2000, the Food Bank has held food drives in conjunction with the concerts at the fair where, if people brought in cans of food or made money donations, they would be put into a drawing to participate in a meet-and-greet session with the singers that night.

Coleman says they originally had to get the approval from the performer when they first had the idea and it first worked with a supportive Toby Keith when he performed at the fair.

"It spun off from there," says Coleman, who adds that the food drive was promoted by the Povertyneck Hillbillies last year.

Food Bank Project Manager Jennifer Canada Miller says the food drives at the fair were successful, but sometimes the food bank doesn't measure their success with amounts of food they acquire, but from the outreach created from the food drives.

"The outreach alone is priceless," says Canada Miller of Food Bank Day. "If people don't need a food bank, they don't know it exists."

At last year's fair, the Food Bank approached Fayette County Fair Board President Bill Jackson about the possibility of hosting a Food Bank Day during the fair, which Jackson agreed.

Jackson says working with the food bank is a natural tie-in with the fair, being a way to help out the food bank and have something that the fair could take part to help the community.

Canada Miller says she feels that Food Bank Day at the fair will further expand the outreach for the Food Bank and also believes that they will collect more food, too.

"We're hoping that this will create more hunger awareness in Fayette County," says Coleman, who says that the tie-in with the agriculture and hunger awareness at the fair is "a good fit."

Coleman says the Food Bank will have two or three representatives on Food Bank day and will hand out and provide information about projects at the Food Bank like their Adopt-a-Pantry, Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Farm Stand Program, Rood Rescue Programs, Nutrition Education Program, Super Cupboards and 20 ways to fight hunger for the Food Bank's celebration of 20 years.

Canada Miller believes the Food Bank day will also be a great tool for parents to bring their kids and canned food to the fair so they can donate food and have free admission and have a great day at the fair.

"This is something we wanted to do for a long time," says Canada Miller. "We would love to do it next year."

"This is really good for the area," says Coleman. "We hope it evolves."

Jackson says if everything works out with the food day this year, "I see no reason not to do it again."

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