Community members, farmers and agribusinesses turned out for a feast worthy of Thanksgiving at the Kentucky Dam Village Convention Center Saturday evening.
The annual Farm to Fork celebration went off without a hitch, and fed hundreds of hungry mouths. The event recognized the local farmers who work tirelessly to put food on everyones’ tables.
Chairperson Elena Blevins told those in attendance that it was tough getting the event rolling this year, but expressed gratitude for the community’s patience and flexibility.
“Every year we do this event, every year we change-tweak just a little bit, and I think we’re getting to the point where we feel like this is a really great collaborative effort between so many vital pieces of our community,” she said. “It brings together our local farming community, our local agriculture, it brings together our educational system, and our small business community, and of course all of us just as friends and family— it’s a chance for all of us to get together.”
After everyone got a plate filled with homegrown foods like chicken, corn and mashed potatoes, awards were presented to local students, farmers and a business for their hard work.
Three Marshall County High School students received hefty scholarships to the schools of their choice. At the recommendation of their respective instructors, Allison Robertson-Hooks (culinary arts), Hannah Smith (agriculture and FFA) and Gibson Marshall (media) each received a $1,000 scholarship.
Organizer Ann Riley said that in the past, they only gave out two scholarships worth $250 each, but community support saw them expand this year.
“The people have ponied up and said ‘lets do this,’ ”she said. “They have backed us and put their money where their mouth is.”
Also that evening, Trayson Watwood was selected to be the first ever junior farmer of the year, and brothers Cody and Cole Seibert were picked to be young farmers of the year. West KY Aquaponics was chosen as the agribusiness of the year.
The evening was capped off when Marshall County Commissioner Monti Collins stepped to the mic to formally recognize the farmers of the year, Lonnie and Linda Barrett from L&L Barrett Farms. Collins agreed with a statement someone made that “when God made farmers, I think he had Lonnie and Linda in mind.”
Haley Wheeler, Miss Kentucky, was also in attendance that night, and reminded the audience just how hard farmers work to feed the Kentuckians, even during a pandemic.
“When the pandemic started, farmers couldn’t Zoom it in,” she said to those in attendance. “Farmers can’t go on Zoom and log in to take care of their crops, or milk their cows, or take care of the sheep. They can’t do any of that virtually, they have to go out into the field, get their hands dirty and work 24/7 for you, for me and for everybody else in the state of Kentucky. And I’m so proud of Kentucky farmers.”