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Armenda guest

This is a guest blog by Armenda Boyer, a sophomore at Purdue University. She is currently working toward a dual major in Agricultural Communication and Agricultural Economics. This past summer, she was an education intern for the Indiana State Fair Commission.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I accepted an offer to work as an education intern at the Indiana State Fair. Of course, I expected to have the opportunity to work with children and to share my love of all-things agriculture. And I was able to do just that! What I didn’t expect to do involved 6,500 pounds of caramel corn and a national television show…

The World’s Largest Popcorn Ball tipped the scales at 6,510 pounds. Check out my last post to see how this massive sphere of popcorn and sugar came together to break a world record! The popcorn ball was on display at the Indiana State Fair for 17 days. But what happened to this giant ball of popcorn after the fair?

Cattle eat grain, and they love to eat sugar… any guesses on where this is going?  That’s right! The post-fair popcorn ball was broken apart, ground up and fed to livestock raised in Indiana. It was neat to see this product go full circle in agriculture: the popcorn used in the ball traveled from a grain farm to a popcorn plant, to the State Fair and finally wound up back on a livestock farm. This cycle relied on one very important concept – transportation.

Transportation proved to be a problem for us as the popcorn ball traveled from Northern Indiana, where it was partially assembled, to the fairgrounds. Getting the plywood popcorn ball base from Indianapolis up to Topeka, Ind. was simple. Getting the half-complete popcorn ball back to Indy? Now that was a different story! The ball had to travel in an enclosed vesicle, with moderate temperatures and low humidity. Meeting all of those requirements in Indiana in mid-July was a challenge!  After multiple setbacks, the popcorn ball finally arrived on the fairgrounds, all in one piece.

Popcorn ball plywood base

“We should have called Shipping Wars to transport the popcorn ball!” That was the running joke in our office after we ran into trouble moving the half-complete ball. It was also why we were so surprised and excited when Shipping Wars called us! The producer of the show had caught the popcorn ball buzz and wanted to tape an episode of a transporter shipping the ball from the fair to a livestock farm. (If you are unfamiliar with this television series, Shipping Wars airs on the A&E channel and follows a handful of professional transporters as they ship unique and difficult loads.)

Unfortunately, my fellow interns and I will not be making our national television debut on Shipping Wars. However, our supervisor will! In fact, she plays a lead role in the episode. The other interns and I were, however, able to be present, but behind the scenes of the “on-farm” shoot. It was interesting to interact with the producer, cameramen and staff of the series. The taping opened my eyes to the production television world, as I realized just how much thought and preparation is required to produce only a few minutes of on-air video.

The television debut of the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball will be extremely rewarding for the Indiana State Fair education team. Our hard work will be on display for the entire nation to see! Granted, our “work” consisted of sculpting over three tons of caramel corn. Even still, through this work, I learned an immense amount about teamwork, persistence and the television industry!

Be sure to tune into A&E this December to see the post-fair journey of the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball!

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