Officially Farm-City Week was established by a resolution in Congress in 1959 during the week leading up to Thanksgiving to recognize the reliance of city dwellers on the food produced by farmers. In the 50s, the idea came from Kiwanis International to help farmers with public relations as more and more consumers were becoming removed from the farm and the source of their food. In 1988, the American Farm Bureau assumed the responsibility for coordinating Farm-City Week. Each year the President of the United States Proclaims that week leading to the Thanksgiving Holiday National Farm-City Week.
Richmond County records go back to 1970, but it is likely that Farm-City Week celebrations went back to the 1950s. The week has been coordinated by members of the community, with help from the agricultural agencies in the county such as USDA Farm Service Agency, Richmond Soil and Water, USDA NRCS and Richmond County Extension. The first Farm-City Chair of our records dating back to 1970 was J. Richard Conder, and some of the other names of organizers include: Ralph Carriker, Don MacLain, Kenneth Robinette, Susanne McInnis, Windy Ammons, Anne Edwards and Betty Wilson.
Activities through the years have varied, from banquets to farm tours to 4-H Cotton Pickin’ to the showing of the movie Farmland. The formula that has been most manageable and successful has become two events: a wonderful Farmer’s Day Parade in Ellerbe on Saturday afternoon and a home cooked luncheon at the Agricultural Services Center on Monday.
The 21st Ellerbe Farmer’s Parade will be held Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. in Downtown Ellerbe, followed by a festival of crafts, food and other vendors behind City Hall. The first parade was organized by Mike Eaves, and today this large parade features many tractors, farm trucks, farm families on floats as well as marching bands, firetrucks and much more. If interested in participating in the parade, please contact USDA Farm Service Agency at 910-895-3950 ext. 2 for more information and an entry form.
The Farmer’s Appreciation Luncheon will take place Monday, Nov. 20 at noon at the Agricultural Services Center at 123 Caroline Street. This is a complimentary lunch for all farmers and local partners. Every year volunteer Earl Graves gathers his crew early in the morning to prepare a delicious lunch in the parking lot, including pork, chicken and goat and all of the fixings. During the luncheon, the Outstanding Conservation Farm Family and the Outstanding Farm of the Year will be announced and recognized. This year, Richmond County Commissioner Don Bryant is the speaker for the luncheon.
Farm-City Week is a hometown tradition going back at least 47 years in our community. It is fitting that we celebrate farmers in a week that we are giving thanks for our many blessings, not the least of which is having a strong agricultural industry to feed us all. If you have questions about Richmond County agriculture or Farm-City Week please contact the Richmond County Extension office at 910-997-8255.
Susan Kelly is director of the Richmond County Cooperative Extension office in Rockingham.