DOBSON — Organizers of this year’s Celebrating Agriculture event at Fisher River Park Saturday were praising the weather for drawing a large crowd to the event.
“The weather has been absolutely perfect for us this time,” said Extension Agent and Celebrating Agriculture Organizer Joanna Radford. She was comparing this year to last, when a rain storm which almost stopped the event in its tracks. “The crowd has been steady all day and it looks like its picking up.”
Radford said there had been lots of favorable comments on pumpkin painting offered under the 4-H activities tent as well as crafts using duct tape. She said the sunny weather also encouraged more participants in an antique tractor competition held at the event this year.
Extension Service Director Bryan Cave was also positive about the event’s impact on getting the word out about local agriculture.
“It has been a absolutely beautiful day,” commented Cave. “I have seen a lot of new people here having a lot of fun and it’s good to get the word out about agriculture to them.”
This was the first year at the event for North Carolina Soybean Producers booth for Outreach Education Director Laura Rogers. She said part of her group’s mission is to educate many young people where their food comes from.
“The public is concerned about genetically modified organisms and genetically safe food,” said Rogers. “They need to be educated in the many ways soy is used. We are doing this to get the word out that the stereotype of uneducated farmers is not true. Farmers must use chemistry, biotechnology, and GPS technology to do what they do. We want the public to know as well not only how their food is grown but that farmers produces safe food.”
Radford said more emphasis this year was placed on teaching about farming. Eight educational stations were available for participants to learn about topics ranging from landscaping, rain barrels, raised bed gardening, straw bale gardening and new farming equipment. Some of these stations focused on reaching those who wanted to make the transition into larger scale farming than they have been doing.
Other stations included small scale drip irrigation and soil testing. Blacksmith Joe Allen was on hand and the Surry County Beekeepers Association returned its observation bee hive. The petting zoo appeared popular and a chicken coop complete with hens offered children a chance at some “hands-on” experience gathering eggs. Corn shucking and “Miss Daisy,” a simulated dairy cow, returned to give kids a chance to try their old school milking skills. A farmers market featured members of Pilot Mountain Pride.
Radford, who has been with the annual celebration since its beginning, coordinated the event again this year. She said the effort originally 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.
Celebrating Agriculture also featured a tractor-pulled train ride for children, a hayride and a bounce house as well as a straw bale maze. The 4-H activities tent offered 10 different crafts and games. The USDA Farm Service Agency set up a booth for face painting.
Square dancing featured the Mayberry Squares and Master Gardener Dan Geiger was on hand to tell people about The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network. This is a network of volunteer weather watchers who take daily readings of precipitation and report them online or by phone. The traditional invitation for farmers to come up on stage and be recognized concluded the celebration this year.
The Surry County Cattlemen’s Association returned with its popular rib eye sandwiches and hamburgers from local ranchers. Radford said E&N Vineyards featured non-alcoholic apple cider slushies. Freshly baked chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies by the NC Small Grain Growers Association as well as a demonstration about the process from growing wheat to foods on the table were likewise part of the event.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-719-1952.