Missouri Valley, Iowa—It started in 1976, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and has
gone through several name changes, but the gist and concept of a Pioneer Ag Expo,
has always been an integral part of the National Old Time Music Festival. The
music festival is actually the entertainment for the Ag Expo.
According to Bob Everhart, President of the National Traditional Country Music
Assn., "When we started in 1976, we wanted to not only do the music of the
pioneers, we wanted to preserve and safe guard the survival crafts of our
pioneers. We started at Westfair in honor of the Bicentennial, and moved to
another location six years later. In that move, the name changed from a
Pioneers Arts and Survival Crafts Expo, to simply the Avoca Ag Expo.
We're quite different from say a county or state fair. We don't bake apple
pies to win a blue ribbon, for instance, we bake apple pies so show people
how to do it. We don't raise beef cattle to see who has the biggest and best,
we show people how the pioneers raised their cattle without steroids and chemicals,
to be natural pure beef. And we don't do it to win ribbons, we do it to show
people how the pioneers could butcher out a beeve or pig, and preserve it
without electricity, refrig! eration, or modern canning techniques. If we lost
those very important energy sources today, many people would not know how
to practice the survival crafts of our pioneers. That's why you will find goats
at our expo for instance. Not to win ribbons, but to show people how to
milk them, how to make cheese, and how Rouquerfort Cheese gets it's distinctive
flavor. It's the same with crafts. We present at our Pioneer Ag Expo (which is
our newest name), everything from shearing sheep and spinning yarn, to weaving
usable fabric for clothing (which we also demonstrate) to making quilts.
We do the same with flax, to make linen. Hand made furniture, in the old way,
to toys made for children, without those energy sources, is not only fun,
it's practical, and certainly entertaining. We are true preservationists of
our pioneer life style, and how their agriculture survived. We "are" the
pioneers of the future."
&auot;The Pioneer Ag Expo goes on throughout the seven day run of the
festival, August 30-September 5. There is also a number of cooking workshops,
showing people how to bake bread in a dutch oven over an open fire, how to
cook 80 gallons of steak & vegetable stew to a delicious fervor,
(and then give it all away), how to make coffee from ingredients that do
not contain coffee, and how to cook 80 gallons of Iowa ham and Texas pinto
beans (also to be given away). The Pioneer Ag Expo, is about a lot more than
just the pioneer's love of old-time music."
According to Virginia Armstrong, Public Relations Director of the NTCMA, "The
festival, and the Pioneer Ag Expo have been members of the IAFE (International
Association of Fairs and Expositions) for a number of years, and are just
now in the planning stages of taking this pioneer concept of survival crafts
and music to Europe as part of the "American Traditional Music & Dance Festival."
We hope to accomplish that within the next few years. In the meantime, we will
continue to be the pioneers of the future, as we not only save our past,
but bring it to us."
Another feature of the Pioneer Ag Expo is a number of exhibitions
and demonstrations on wildlife, especially wildlife native to the mid-west prairie lands.
The Conservation Commission sends a number of knowledgeable presentes to talk about
wild life, game, raptors, and the ways and means to protect them.
The festival will take place at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Missouri
Valley, Iowa, August 30-September 5. A major portion of the earnings from
this event goes to the upkeep and improvement of the Pioneer Music Museum,
which is also expanding it's pioneer survival craft exhibition. It is located
on main street in Anita, Iowa.
More information on the Pioneer Ag Expo, and the 29th National Old Time Bluegrass
and Country Festival and Contest, can be received at P O Box 492, Anita,
Iowa, or telephoning 712-762-4363.
E-mail response is available