No Old MacDonalds here

Think of it as an encore for the Johnson County fair.

On Saturday and Sunday, farmers will have livestock on display and demonstrate tractors, spreaders and other machinery. Agriculture agencies and organizations will put on educational displays. Kids can participate in a pedal tractor pull, face painting and a photo booth.

And local agriculture organizations will sell ribeyes, pork chops and milkshakes.

Local supporters of area agriculture have put together a new free fall event helping to show what life on the farm is really like. The event will be conducted on the Johnson County fairgrounds, regardless of the weather.

The hope is to provide another opportunity for an increasingly urban and suburban population to connect to their rural roots.

“The general public is a little bit further removed from agriculture. This can provide them with an up-close look at more equipment and livestock production,” said Amy Kelsay, co-owner of Kelsay Farms. “If they drive around the county, it’s still quite rural. They may see this equipment, and we want to explain what it’s used for.”

In Johnson County, more than 144,000 acres are used for agriculture, taking up about 70 percent of all of the land in the county. Farming generated more than $70 million in products sold.

But for most of the population, life on the farm is a foreign concept. The purpose of the Johnson County Farm Festival is to change that.

The festival is organized by the Friends of Johnson County Agriculture, a group that grew out of a Leadership Johnson County project. Working with the Johnson County Community Foundation, the organization established an endowment to fund educational efforts surrounding agriculture, said Kim Minton, vice president of development for the community foundation.

Funds have been raised through donations to the foundation and crop donations made in the group’s name.

Originally, the group put on a program called Know Your Neighbor. Local farmers would host people living around their operation to come hear about what they do, see how modern agriculture works and become more comfortable on the farm.

“People would invite their neighbors for a morning of doughnuts and coffee, to learn about the equipment and learn about what goes on on that particular farm,” Minton said.

Taking the spirit of that program, the Friends of Johnson County Agriculture wanted to do something similar that reached more people. They decided to stage a two-day festival.

The festival will demonstrate the kinds of crops and livestock raised in the county and how it affects people’s lives even if they live nowhere near a farm.

Organizations such as Graham’s Bees Works, Purdue Extension and Riley Family Farm will offer products to buy.

“It’ll be similar to a farmers market, since people will be selling produce, flowers and products,” said Sarah Henson, Purdue Extension agriculture educator. “We’ll have little demonstrations too to educate people about their products.”

During the week of the county fair, the Johnson County Beef Cattle Association sells thousands of ribeyes and the Indiana Creek FFA slings pork chops to hungry visitors. The Johnson County Farm Bureau’s milkshakes are a perfect way to cool down. All three will be back for the farm festival.

“It’s a fun day for families to come and learn about ag,” Kelsay said. “They can learn more about the farm equipment and let the kids have fun for a while.

The equipment will be set up to demonstrate a year on the farm, such as tractors, planters and spreaders. With much of the machinery taking advantage of GPS systems and auto-steering features, people will get a better sense of the advancements made in agriculture, Minton said.

“What we want people to take away is what modern agriculture looks like today,” she said. “There is a lot of technology involved and a lot to it that we want people to see.”

If you go

What: Johnson County Farm Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Johnson County fairgrounds, 100 Fairground St., Franklin

Cost: Free


  • Photo booth
  • Face painting, noon to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Pedal tractor pull, registration 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Agriculture education booths
  • Tractor and equipment demonstrations
  • Livestock
  • Local food vendors

Participating vendors: Mallow Run Winery; the Apple Works; Kelsay Farms; Franklin Community High School FFA; Purdue Extension; M&G Farms; Rolling Cones Pineapple Whip; Jones Kettle Corn; Harrell Country Market; Johnson County Soil Water Conservation District and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Graham’s Bees Works; Riley Family Farm; Johnson County Garden Club and Purdue Master Gardeners; Poe Quality Meats

Information:, or on Facebook at Friends of Johnson County Ag

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.