It could be easy to lose sight of the purpose of the NC Cooperative Extension Services’ ninth year of Celebrating Agriculture day. Extension Agent Joanna Radford can sum it up in a sentence.
“It’s all about the farmers. That’s what this is staged for,” said Radford. “Any and all of the local farmers in the area are encouraged to get up on the stage again this year and be recognized.”
She was referring to an annual practice of allowing farmers to come on stage to be recognized, to allow people to put a face to the farmer, so to speak. Radford pointed out depictions of farming and farmers in movies and on television are not always accurate.
In addition to recognizing the farmers, many popular features of the one-day celebration are returning this year. The event has been set for Sept. 14 at Fisher River Park in Dobson. The celebration will again be held from 3-8 p.m. with the salute to farmers set for 7 p.m.
“Last year we had a good number of farmers who participated in this,” Radford said. “We want them to know we’re thinking of them. Farming hasn’t gotten any easier. It’s really been a challenge with all the rain we have had this year.”
Radford, who has been with the annual celebration since its beginning, will coordinate the event again this year. 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.
She said the celebration continues to change with not as many contests and competitions as there were when the celebration started. One theme which continues this year is the festival teaching about farming. A number of educational stations are planned, ranging from landscaping, rain barrels, raised bed gardening and straw bale gardening.
“We are excited about the straw bale gardening station because there are a lot of people who would like to garden but can’t till,” Radford said. “Master gardeners from our area will be manning these educational stations.”
Other stations will include, small scale drip irrigation and soil testing. Blacksmith Joe Allen will be featured and the Surry County Beekeepers Association will return their observation bee hive. Last year’s popular petting zoo will be back and feature farm animals including rabbits, pigs, a horse, a steer and a dairy cow.
“We’re trying to give children a variety of animals to see,” said Radford. A 4-H activities tent will again be set up to offer a variety of activities for children. Radford said she wasn’t going to release information about all the offerings under the big top come celebration day just yet.
“One of the new activities this year will be kids will get to make butter and buttermilk fresh from the farm,” said Radford. “The tractor-pulled train ride for children will return and there will again be a hayride and a bounce house. Last year we had a good turn out even in the rain.” Radford promised fun for young and old.
Square dancing will be held from 3-4 p.m. with the public invited to join in with the demonstrators. Antique, new and classic tractors will be on display. Organizers are being tight lipped about a “dignitary showdown.”
Food will be featured at the celebration. The Surry County Cattlemen’s Association will feature rib-eye sandwiches and hamburgers. Other foods including kettle corn will be offered. Radford said E&N Vineyards will feature non-alcoholic apple cider slushies. She also said organizers are seeking more food vendors as well. Radford said organizers’ efforts to keep the event affordable have been made possible by local business support.
Sponsors for Celebrating Agriculture include Carolina Farm Credit, Dobson Veterinary Hospital, First Bank & Trust, Johnson Farm Operations Inc., Lake Phelps Grains Inc., Moody’s Funeral Home, NC Farm Bureau, Pine Hill Farm Supply, G&B Energy, Surry County ECA, Surry Yadkin EMC, Surry Telephone Membership Corp., Tractor Parts Company, WIFM Radio and Wolfe, and Reece & Lynch.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.