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Fair Oaks Farms adds children's dining hall, Central Bark Dog Park
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Fair Oaks Farms adds children's dining hall, Central Bark Dog Park

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Fair Oaks Farms is enhancing visitors' experience with more space for kids to eat and a safe place for dogs to roam. 

The FeedBarn children’s dining hall and the Central Bark Dog Park recently were added with the help of donors and business partners. 

“As a destination for families, we are proud to expand our offering to four-legged family members too,” said Julie Basich, chief operating officer of Fair Oaks Farms. “Our goal is to make this farm a pet-friendly experience for all — especially for travelers with dogs to get some exercise in a fun, safe environment.”

Mars Petcare US, a pet nutrition and health care business, helped build the one-acre dog park, which features two separate fenced-off areas for small dogs and larger dogs to run around off the leash while their owners are visiting the popular agritourism attraction at the border of Jasper and Newton counties.

The Central Bark Dog Park features water troughs, exercise equipment, benches, shade shelters and cans to dispose of excrement.

“At Mars, we know that pets make life healthier, happier and safer,” said Jam Stewart, director of corporate communications at Mars Petcare. “We are thrilled to partner with Fair Oaks Farms to create more access for people with pets to visit, eat and play."

Farm Credit and Cargill helped the working farm open its new dining hall, where school children can eat during field trips. 

“Telling agriculture’s story is increasingly important in a society where more generations of Americans are removed from the farm, “ says Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Farm Credit Mid-America. “Fair Oaks Farms provides guests the opportunity to learn about 21st century agriculture in engaging and entertaining ways.”

The dining hall will serve both lunch and dinner to children touring Fair Oaks Farms' Dairy, Pig and/or Crop Adventures.

“Cargill is a proud supporter of Fair Oaks Farms, and we are excited to see the vision of the FeedBarn become a reality,” said Charles Shininger, Cargill managing director. “We feel a responsibility to teach future generations about agriculture, and Fair Oaks provides the perfect environment to foster learning for children of all ages.”

More than 500,000 people a year visit Fair Oaks Farms, which bills itself as "the nation's premier agritourism destination." Fair Oaks also is expected to break ground this summer on a new 100-room hotel at an estimated cost of between $8 million and $12 million.

“Fair Oaks Farms serves as an educational resource regarding current and future farming practices and a center for dialogue between students, teachers and the farmers who produce the food they eat,” Basich said. “With over 40,000 school kids visiting annually, we are thrilled to be able to offer this new facility that better facilitates their field-trip experience.”

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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