Tre Coleman is director of marketing for the South Carolina cotton board, and their booth in the Cantey Building is a big attraction with the interactive exhibit of a table-top cotton gin. Coleman says that while they had kids in mind, adults have as much or more interested in learning about the process:
“It’s a small micro gin. We came across it by just stroke of luck and decided to show it at the fair as an interactive exhibit. We are letting the kids see how it separates the seed from the lint and what the seed is used for. We are also giving away UTZ potato chips, made in Pennsylvania, that are cooked in cotton seed oil.
It also shows the importance of Eli Whitney in the manufacturing process of interchangeable parts. He invented the gin in Georgia and started out coming to South Carolina.
Kids are really interested in this, once they gin the cotton they can take the bag of fiber home with them. It’s great for show and tell or a history lesson. But more adults have been interested in it because they don’t understand the process. A lot of us in agriculture take it for granted as its been part of our lives for so many years. So its great to be at the fair to interact with more urban people to understand what they are seeing out on the sides of the roads.
The early cotton is doing well. The later cotton got hit by the heat, but rain fall has been good and defoliation is underway. Peanuts seems to be occupying everyone’s time, but with good weather to come, harvest should be happening soon.”
The South Carolina State Fair runs through Sunday in Columbia.