NC Cooperative Extension will stage its sixth year of showcasing farmers with its Celebrating Agriculture day on Sept. 8 at Fisher River Park in Dobson. The celebration will be held from 3-8 p.m.
Extension Agent Joanna Radford has been with the annual celebration since its beginning and now coordinates the event. She said the effort evolved from an extension service Advisory Council discussion on the need to shine a spotlight on farmers in the county. She said that 25 percent of Surry County’s businesses are based on agriculture.
“It (the celebration) has changed,” commented Radford. “We don’t have as many contests and competitions as we did when we started. It’s become more about teaching persons about farming. Last year, we even had farmers and their families get up on stage so people could put a face with the farmer, so to speak.”
Radford was quick to point out that depictions of farming and farmers in movies and on television are not always accurate.
“The true picture of being a farmer is quite different than what you see out there,” added Radford. Many popular features of the one-day celebration are returning.
She said that there will be a farm animal display, typically known by celebration participants as the petting farm, and a corn sheller where children and adults can see how corn was separated from its cob before combine technology came along. Other farm equipment will also be on display at the event.
Radford said that displays of foods grown locally will also be featured as well as information on what the product does or is used for. She said that one perennial favorite display shows the process from growing wheat to milling flour. She said celebration participants will be able to clearly see the connection between field to table.
Celebrating agriculture isn’t all educational. Radford promised fun for young and old.
Square dancing will be held with hearty invitations for the public to join in with the demonstrators. A 4-H activity tent will also be set up at the event. Children will be able to create a variety of crafts that will be agriculture related. Antique, new and classic tractors will be on display, there will be a farmers’ market, a chicken coop for children to explore and organizers are planning a “dignitary showdown.” A tractor pulled train ride for children will also return this year.
“Of course, you can’t have an event without food,” said Radford. “We will have food vendors including the Surry County Cattlemen’s Association who will have hamburgers and rib-eyes and local beekeepers will be selling their honey.” She also added that a local blueberry grower will be selling blueberry slushies. Radford reminded participants that while most of the activities at the celebration are free, the food vendors’ wares are not. Free cookies (while they last) will be given out.
Groups also participating in the celebration will include the Future Farmers of America, The Extension and Community Association (this group used to be named Extension Homemakers), the Surry County Bee Keepers Association and Master Gardeners.
“We couldn’t do this without sponsorship,” said Radford. Sponsors for the celebration include Farm Bureau, First Bank and Trust, WIFM Radio, Surry Telephone, Southern States, Surry Yadkin Electric, Surry County Cattlemen’s Association, Surry County ECA, Carolina Farm Credit and Lake Phelps. She said more sponsors are also stepping forward to support the event.
“I like to see the excitement of folks who participate in this event,” recalled Radford. “Many have been with us from the beginning. They talk about it every year telling us they’ll come back and have been every year. This event is worthwhile, hearing comments like that makes it worth it.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.