This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Jasper-Newton free day at Fair Oaks Farms

Monday was the second free admission day at Fair Oaks Farms for residents of Jasper and Newton Counties. So many people took advantage of the free admission that all the parking spaces in the parking lots were full.

It has been a few years since I last toured Fair Oaks Farms and I wanted to see what they had added since that last visit. The first change I noticed was that the building that had been a market selling cheese, wine, and other food products was now where people paid for admission. However, Jasper/Newton County residents were able to bypass this building and go to the little white tent to the left and get their wrist bands.

 I peeked inside to see what the new layout looked like. It appeared that only the front part of the building was open to visitors.  For those not from Jasper/Newton county, the price of a full admission was $29.95 for adults and $25.00 for children and seniors. One could also buy admission to only one of the two adventures, the dairy or pig for a slightly reduced price. There were also rates for schools and groups.
 A new building that was not open to the casual visitor was the Feed Barn. It is a place for groups of visitors to eat.
 The first new building that I wanted to visit was the Pork Education Center, which is next to the birthing barn. If you search this blog for "Fair Oak Farms" you can find some old posts showing the exterior of the building.
 On entering the building, you go down a hallway with lots of informational signs. Did you know that Indiana ranked fifth in pork production?
 In the back there is what looks like a kitchen and a large monitor with pork recipes that you can e-mail to yourself. Continuing on around the turn, you get to the main a large room. At the end is a cute tree house, which was made by a company that had a television series and this tree house was the focus on one of their episodes.
 I entered through the small door not meant for adults to see what it looked like inside.
 The main part of the large room and the main attraction of the building is is a ropes course. This area has a special charge not included in the admissions price, and that makes sense because it requires several people to monitor it and strap the kids (and adults) into special harnesses that travel in notches under the green beams. It looked like a course my grandkids would really enjoy.
The other attraction that I had not previously visited was the Crop Adventure. (Again, search for Fair Oaks Farms in the search box at the top right and you will find a post or two with pictures of this building under construction.)
 You enter the building through a theater that shows a short, two-minute movie. Then it is on to a round room that describes the changes that technology has made to the way farms are run. I only briefly looked at those displays. I was more interested in the large sphere on which a video was playing. It was the strangest video screen that I recall seeing.
 The hallway led to a maze that represented the world underground among the roots and bugs that are important to plant growth. There were little windows that once could open and see interesting facts. I never knew that corn always has an even number of rows around each ear. Did you?
 Then it was back to the daylight with more exhibits and some interactive activities that the kids enjoyed. In the one below, they put big kernels of corn on a conveyor belt and by turning a crank, could make them fall into the bin. They could then be retrieved though the door at the bottom and the whole exercise could be repeated.
 The new Pork Education Center and the Crop Adventure are nice additions to the campus but the bus tours to the Dairy and the Pig barn remain the stars of the show.

As we left, I took a picture of the dog park, which is on the north side of the campus, behind the gas station. The store at the gas station now sells some of the items that were previously sold in the market, which is now the admissions center.
Because I took advantage of the free admission day at FOF, I was not able to attend the Drainage Board meeting on Monday afternoon. One of the items on the agenda was a drainage plan for the Fair Oaks Farm Hotel Development. Even though the hotel will be in the Newton County, it will drain into a Jasper County ditch, so they need approval from the Jasper County Drainage Board. I was told that the project has received all the Newton County permits it needs. It will be built south of the Farm House Restaurant. If I had gone to the Drainage Board meeting, I might be able to tell you more.


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