The Glass Barn will open this summer and will be a free-admission, air-conditioned escape for Indiana State Fair attendees to learn about agriculture.
The Glass Barn will open this summer and will be a free-admission, air-conditioned escape for Indiana State Fair attendees to learn about agriculture.

INDIANAPOLIS — Progress on the Glass Barn, an educational building funded by the Indiana Soybean Alliance, is continuing as it nears the last stages of construction at the Indiana State Fair.

The barn will open to the public and serve as a new attraction at the fair this summer. It will feature interactive exhibits, games and technology in order to show how a modern farm in Indiana is operated.

“We’re in the building phase now, and construction is scheduled to wrap up here in the next few weeks,” said Megan Kuhn, ISA communication director.

“The goal is that early May construction will be done, so we have a full month to put up all the inside exhibits. We want to have the building ready to go by June, so we can test exhibits and train volunteers to be ready for the Aug. 2 state fair kickoff.”

The barn will encourage visitors to think about where their food originates in a fun, hands-on environment.

“We really want to be able to tell the story of the Indiana farm family and their role in producing the food that other Hoosiers eat,” Kuhn said.

“We’re very interested in focusing the story around a soybean farmer, a hog farmer and a dairy farmer. We’ll show their farms, what they raise and how they raise it.”

A variety of technological platforms will be used to connect fairgoers with farmers, including Face Time, iPads and a green screen that allows visitors to choose what type of farm background to have behind them as a picture is taken. In the spirit of technology, the pictures will be uploaded digitally where they can be emailed and put on social media sites.

“Farmers use smartphones and GPS just like we do,” the spokeswoman said. “We want to tie that into the message, so people know they use technology on the farms like we do in everyday lives.”

Kuhn also said that the space will be utilized to talk about other important topics such as biotechnology and precision agriculture. Plans are being made for the Glass Barn beyond fair season, as well.

“The 17 days of the fair are very important, but we are working with the fair to use the buildings and exhibits to extend reach to younger audiences and even older kids,” Kuhn said. “We want to build curriculum and bring diverse groups of students to the fairgrounds all year round.”

Justin Armstrong, director of advancement at the fair, said that educational programs have progressed to a point where it no longer is just outreach, but inviting others on site to use the fairgrounds’ resources for education purposes.

“The objective is to engage youth in science, engineering, technology and math education using agriculture as a unifying concept,” he said.

“The Glass Barn is a place where contemporary agriculture can be explained. Myths can be busted. I think we can provide people with an opportunity to understand how their food, fiber, fuel resources are being produced on Indiana farms.”

Armstrong said that the barn’s architecture was designed purposefully to represent agriculture today.

“You see a building that’s made largely of glass on the exterior,” he said. “Agriculture is transparent. There are no big secrets. We have a gabled frontage that is reminiscent of old barns because we believe and honor our past in the industry. In fact, we’ve built on it to be where we are.”

The computers, technology and analytical tools inside the barn are there to show how farmers make decisions now, Armstrong said. And having the conversation about agriculture take place in a high-tech, contemporary building is fitting to today’s agricultural scene.

The Glass Barn has no admission cost and will be air-conditioned. For more information visit www.indianasoybean.com.