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Record Crowd Attends Farm-City Banquet, Local Agriculture Award-Winners Recognized

By Jessica Isaacs | jessica@highcountrypress.com

More than 250 folks showed up to Boone United Methodist Church on Thursday evening for the 61st annual Farm-City Banquet, a celebration of the High Country’s agricultural heritage and the hardworking people behind it.

This longstanding local tradition is part of the national Farm-City week observation, which aims to bring people together and unite them with the farmers who help put food on their tables throughout the year.

“I inherited a very long tradition of Farm-City events when I came on as county director,” said Dr. Jim Hamilton of the Watauga County Extension Office. “It’s a banquet that brings the rural community and the urban community together to celebrate our agricultural heritage and how it continues to serve an important role in the community today. It also celebrates unsung heroes in our community — individuals who are really contributing in a way that is not typically in the media.”

The “first furrow,” or the first row planted in the field that serves as a guide to farmers as they work, was the theme of this year’s sold-out event, which saw an impressive turnout.

“We were definitely over capacity. This is the largest crowd that I have seen at a Farm-City banquet in my almost 10 years with the extension,” Hamilton said. “It was hugely successful.”

Diners enjoyed pot roast made with beef from Shipley Farms (prepared with the help of Rick Pedroni of Casa Rustica),  potatoes from Robert Perry and cabbage from Hollar & Greene. Dessert featured pumpkin from Brian Chatham at High Mountain Farm and pies made by Faith Mountain Farms.

The evening featured other special guests, including emcee David Jackson, president of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce; Perry Yates of New River Building Supply, also county commissioner and county liaison for the cooperative exension; radio personality Jeremiah Farmer; Boone Mayor Renny Brantz; Future Farmers of America students from Watauga High School.

After dinner, the following award-winners were recognized:

  • Jeff Thomas, Christmas Tree Grower of the Year
  • Joe McNeil, Cattleman of the Year
  • Ted Bruch, Beekeeper of the Year
  • Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture’s Food Hub program. the L.E. Tuckweiler Award sponsored by the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Christof denBigalaar, the Charles Church Food and Farm Stewardship Award
  • VJ Bost, Woman in Agriculture Award
  • Susan Payne, Agriculture in Arts Award
  • David Kline, Master Gardeners’ Community Volunteer Award
  • Matt Taylor of Watauga High School FFA, Youth in Agriculture Award
  • Hal Cook, Mast General Store’s Friend of Agriculture Award
  • Paul Gragg of Gragg Family Farms, Conservation Farm Family of the Year Award

The program also featured door prizes provided by the Watauga Beekeepers, Joey Clawson of Panoramic Tree Farm, Bill Moretz, Goodnight Brothers, Betty Bond, Hollar and Greene Produec, the NC Cooperative Extension, Mast General Store, Richard Boylan of Otus Branch Farm, Stick Boy Bakery and Lee Rankin of Apple Hill Farm.

Farm-City Banquet was made possible by platinum sponsor Watauga County Farm Bureau; gold sponsor New River Building Supply; silver sponsors Watauga Christmas Tree Association, Southern Ag, Hollar and Greene Produce; bronze sponsors Mountain Kubota of Boone, PHARMN, Carolina Farm Credit, Watauga County Cattlemen’s Association, Blue Ridge Electric, Mast General Store.

So, what’s next for the Watauga Extension Office? Follow the office on Facebook or visit watauga.ces.ncsu.edu for more information. Stay tuned for news on the upcoming choose-and-cut Christmas tree season!