DOBSON —The sixth annual Celebrating Agriculture day held at Fisher River Park did just that in spite of some late afternoon rain.
“The turnout looked the same as last year but I think we really had more. The rain ran some out and it was hard to judge,” said Extension Agent Joanna Radford, coordinator for Celebrating Agriculture. She said several of the new events this year, such as the potato dig, really were popular. An unofficial tally at the gate indicated more than 600 had attended the celebration.
“We must have buried the potatoes twenty times for the children to find,” said Master Gardener Joy Barlow, who was among the local master gardeners manning events at the celebration.
Radford said the straw maze also went over well with many good comments coming from children about the event. Pet Dairy’s huge cow statue, Winnie, was on display. She said the saddle on a bale of hay beside the horse in the petting zoo was also a children’s favorite this year.
“Winnie the Cow has been a great photo shoot opportunity for us this year,” added Radford. She also said the corn sheller display was popular. The display by Cave Farms showed that a farmer could shell about 100 bushels of corn by hand in a nine-hour day on average. The introduction of the first combines, which are smaller than they are now, allowed farmers to shell 100 bushels in seven minutes.
Other things celebration participants could have learned at the event is that farming is big business for Surry County. According to Extension Agent Bryan Cave poultry farming in the county alone is a $115 million to $118 million business. Livestock is second, making anywhere from $30 to $35 million a year.
He said the Surry County’s farming industry is diversified. The average age of a farmer in Surry County is 60 years. The average investment in a farm, not counting land in Surry County, is $600,000. Surry’s average farm size is 109 acres and the county boasts a total of 1,258 farms.
Another popular draw this year was the dignitary showdown. This year the challenge was to ride a tractor — actually, a John Deere tricycle — through the straw maze. The winners had $100 donated toward a charity of their choice and a rib-eye sandwich.
Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson won the dignitary showdown with a course time of 39 seconds. Others participating in the showdown included Mount Airy Commissioner Shirley Brinkley, Candidate for Mount Airy Commissioner Larry Phillips, Elkin Mayor Cestine Hutchins, Rockford Elementary Principal Dana Thomas, East Surry Assistant Principal Brent Long and Greg Smith of the Surry Community College Pilot Center.
Groups also participating in the celebration included 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 included 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.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.