At about the same time the 2017 Washington Town and Country Fair opened Wednesday, out of Columbia came a report that detailed the statewide economic impact that MU Extension has. It’s impressive.

The Franklin County MU Extension has always cooperated in staging the Washington Fair since its modern-day beginning and probably even before that at the old Farm Products Show.

Perhaps the most visible county Extension representative at the Fair is Ken Bolte, who shares the announcing duties at the Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction with auctioneer Dave “Farmer Dave” Schu-macher. The duo is a good team, colorful in speech, motivating to bidders, and they move the auction so swiftly that bidders must pay close attention or they will miss an exhibitor’s animal they had hoped to bid on. The swiftness is necessary  because of the number of farm animals that are offered for auction. 

The auction Saturday, as usual, will begin at noon and end around 5 p.m. Not many fairgoers leave the auction barn before it ends.

This year’s chairman of the livestock committee is Joyce Couch. Fair Board members who serve on the committee are Nathan Deppe, Jason Gildehaus, Ryan Mayer and Alex Meyer. The livestock assistants include Ken Bolte, Alysia Carey, Anthony Carey, Mary Carey, Derrick Couch, Jeremy Couch, Ruchelle Couch, Stephanie Couch, Andrea Gildehaus, Andy Heather, Dustin Heather, Matt Herring, Nathan Nowak, Neil Nowak, Cole Piontek, Dale Piontek, Glen Pohl, Andy Robinson, Rick Scheer and Dennis Spaunhorst.

If it sounds like a family affair, it is, in many respects. Also, many of the committee members exhibited livestock in their younger years.

The Fair veterinarians are John Kansteiner and John Stoltz. There are other volunteers who help out in the livestock division.

Back to MU Extension.The report out of Columbia stated that MU Extension had an economic impact of nearly $1 billion in fiscal year 2016. TEConomy Partners LLC found that MU Extension’s “initiative areas,” including grazing workshops and education counseling, generated $945 million for the statewide economy from an initial $86 million investment.

The goal of the MU Extension program is to make practical education available with an office in every county — the programs offered range from agricultural techniques to disease prevention. Extension outreach is part of MU’s overall mission.

Marshall Stewart, vice chancellor for extension and engagement, said MU takes knowledge and innovation created on the campus to the communities in the state. He said this is done in areas including, but not limited to, agriculture, business development, entrepreneurship, health, nutrition, education, STEM and youth development.

The program’s $86 million investment came from a combination of MU funds, federal funds, county-based  resources, grants, contracts and fees.

MU’s Extension includes helping at fairs in the state. While the aid given to the Washington Fair has varied down through the years, Extension usually has had a presence at the Fair. It is one of the countless supporters.