This summer, TAI will once again have a presence at the Indiana State Fair. Our traveling bicentennial exhibit, “Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Tradition and Innovation” will be displayed on the fairgrounds this year. If you have not seen the full exhibit yet, the State Fair is a fun opportunity to check it out. The fair runs from August 5-21, 2016. Please see the state fair website for more details.
The complete bicentennial exhibit set up at Taste of Tippocanoe in Lafayette, IN
TAI is also involved with the State Fair Masters series. This year we have put together a brochure and display honoring the life and work of Indiana sheep breeder and 2016 State Fair Master, Pearce McKinney. The text below, written by TAI staff, summarizes Pearce’s contributions to the Indiana farming community.
“Pearce McKinney has been committed not only to his award-winning sheep, but also to the upkeep of his farm, home, and property in Wingate, Indiana. Pearce’s family has lived on this farm for five generations. In 1924, his father, Lawrence, named the property Walnut Knoll for the many walnut trees that still dot the landscape today. Over the years, Pearce has worked to restore the old farmhouse back to the way it looked in the early 1900s.
Since they took over the family farm, both Pearce and his wife Alice have left their imprint on the property through their restoration work and modern additions. Pearce restored the barn at Walnut Knoll, which was originally built in 1885. Maintaining the functionality of this historic building, he constructed a modernized hay chute inside the barn and added an office in the space to help with his daily farm responsibilities. In 1991, Alice engineered Fence Line Feeders, an innovative method of feeding the herds of sheep at Walnut Knoll.
McKinney’s home at Walnut Knoll
On the farm, Pearce and Alice have raised Suffolk and Montadale sheep. The sheep interest began in 1954 when Pearce borrowed $300 from his grandmother to buy three ewe lambs. Pearce worked with sheep breeders in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and in 1963, he raised and showed the Reserve Grand Champion Ram at the Chicago International. Pearce has been actively involved in several Suffolk sheep associations, serving on both national and local committees, and he has judged competitions across the country.
McKinney and his sheep
At Walnut Knoll, Pearce and Alice enjoy their time at home with their three Great Pyrenees dogs and the beautiful gardens Alice maintains. Upon reflection on his life and career, Pearce has often liked to say, “If you love what you’re doing, I’m sorry, it ain’t work.” Pearce has always been proud of his family lineage and cherished the daily tending of his flock.
In addition to his work on the farm, Pearce has been a generous benefactor of the Indiana State Fair and the 4-H program for many years. He has contributed to the Sale of Champions, which helps fund 4-H members participating in livestock competitions. Pearce has served on the Board of Animal Health and the Indiana Sheep Breeders Association, and also led an initiative to give fairgoers an opportunity to see and sample lamb produced in Indiana. Through his work with the State Fair, Pearce has set an example for future leaders of Indiana farming communities.”
We look forward to seeing you at the State Fair!!!!