DOBSON — The ninth annual Celebrating Agriculture event returns to Fisher River Park this year with a mixture of old and new offerings as it continues to showcase local farmers and their craft. The event is set for this Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m. with the salute to farmers set for 7 p.m.
She said there is more emphasis this year on the festival teaching about farming. A number of educational stations are planned, ranging from landscaping, rain barrels, raised bed gardening, straw bale gardening and new farming equipment.
“There will be a total of eight educational stations at the festival this year especially geared towards folks who want to get into gardening,” said Radford. “Especially those who may want to make the transition into a bit larger scale farming than they have been doing. They can get a lot of useful information at these 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 its 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.
Last year’s popular chicken coop complete with hens will return and offer children a chance at some hands-on experience gathering eggs in addition to corn shucking and “Miss Daisy,” a simulated dairy cow, will give children a chance to be “udderly” involved. A farmers market also will be featured.
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.
Another new activity this year will allow kids 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. The 4-H activities tent will return with 10 different crafts and games. The USDA Farm Service Agency also will offer face painting.
Square dancing will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. with the public invited to join in with the demonstrators. There also will be an antique tractor competition for machines from 1965 or earlier. First price is $300, second is $200 and third is $100 for this competition.
Organizers are being tight lipped about a “dignitary showdown” set for 5:30 p.m. Last year’s spirited showdown involved contestants competing for the best time in the straw bale maze, with Sheriff Graham Atkinson topping the field. Radford was tight lipped on the details of this year’s event and said it will pit FFA advisers and teachers from local schools and Surry Community College against each other.
“The only thing I will say about this is it will certainly be clucky,” said Radford. “That’s all I’m going to reveal.”
Master Gardener Dan Geiger also will be on hand to tell people about The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, (CoCoRaHS). This is a network of volunteer weather watchers who take daily readings of precipitation, and report them online or by phone.
Food remains a centerpiece of the celebration. The Surry County Cattlemen’s Association returns with its popular ribeye sandwiches and hamburgers from local ranchers. Other foods including kettle corn will be offered. Radford said E&N Vineyards will feature non-alcoholic apple cider slushies.
One popular item is the freshly baked chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies by the NC Small Grain Growers Association, who will demonstrate the process from growing wheat to foods on the table.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.