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If you're looking for something free to do in the Quiet Corner this fall, don't miss Celebrating Agriculture 2009! More....

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Mark Your Calendars– Celebrating Agriculture is Saturday September 26, 2009
- by Bet Zimmerman

These days, a two hour trip to the movies for two adults and three children, including tickets, popcorn, candy and soda, can cost almost $100.   What if you could spend an entire day doing something fun, interesting and educational for FREE.  Free parking, free admission AND free activities.  If that sounds appealing, check out Celebrating Agriculture on Saturday, September 26th at the Woodstock Fairgrounds.   It starts at 9 a.m. and lasts to 3 p.m.  There will be plenty to do, indoors and out, rain or shine.  See www.celebratingagriculture.org for a schedule of events, directions and more.

Goats at Celebrating Ag

All kinds of kids have fun at Celebrating Agriculture. Bet Zimmerman photo.

Celebrating Agriculture is the brain child of a group of local farmers, businesses, organizations, government agencies and dedicated volunteers who donate time and products to make this wonderful event happen.  It started in 2001, and keeps getting better every year.  “It’s a relaxing day to look at things at your own pace, ask questions, learn and be entertained,” says Dawn Pindell of the USDA Farm Service Agency.  There is something for everyone, and lots of new stuff this year.  

You can learn the secrets of top local chefs as they create restaurant-quality crepes and omelets. You’ll have a chance to sample locally produced treats like cheese, Black Currant juice from Maple Lane Farm, and tasty beverages from The Farmer’s Cow.  Locally grown food is also available for purchase.  Start the day with a Hearty Farm Breakfast served from 9-11 a.m.  If you’re a burger fan, you can choose from Bison Burgers from the Bison Brook Creamery, or Paul Bunyan Burgers from the Woodchoppers Café, dished up by Eastern CT Forest Landowner volunteers.  Ekonk Hill will be offering homemade fare including ice cream. 

If you’re a music buff you have two choices – Yankee Dogs will be playing traditional American music (western swing, folk rock, bluegrass, etc.) with jazz influences.  Hickory Wind will treat their devotees to folk/bluegrass music.  I really enjoy the forestry competition, where burly woodcutters compete in a variety of speed and skill contests.  There are displays including decorated Easter eggs and lovely quilts.  A number of organizations will also have hands-on displays related to open space and agriculture.  You can talk to local farmers and craftspeople to learn how they do what they do.  

For the young'uns, there are free hayrides to tour Fairvue Farms.  The children’s activity table is chocked full of fun things to do and make.  Children usually enjoy navigating through the hay maze.  There will probably be some baby goats, cows, rabbits and donkeys.  Everybody is also welcome to join the antique tractors, horses and fire truck in the parade at 2:00 p.m.

But wait, there’s more!  Get your holiday shopping done early.  There will be plenty of locally made gifts that you can’t find in a store.  Nature’s Edge will have herbal products, soaps and jellies.  Watch Yankee Fiber Friends spinning and weaving while you peruse yarns and handiworks they have for sale. Christine Farrugia will be selling cards with animal pictures.  Local flying photographer Leslie Sweetnam’s scenic vistas will be available.  You can also pick up some of Kelly Zanger's delicious pickled products.  Celebrating Agriculture T-shirts also make a nice gift.  “When you shop locally, you support local farms and businesses.” notes Pindell.  “In turn, they buy from other local businesses.  We’re all part of a network of people in our community.  As a consumer, when you buy locally, you help the local economy, and help keep open space in town.  You also know you’re getting a product that is fresh as it can possibly be.“

If you have some time to volunteer the day of the event, or would like to get involved in planning next year’s Big Day, contact Nancy Ferlow at 860.871.4049 or nancy.ferlow@ct.usda.gov

Farmers provide food, fiber, and open space that benefits all of us.  Here is a great opportunity to learn more about agriculture and support local businesses.  It’s not crowded, but you will probably run into old friends and maybe make some new ones.  Don’t miss this Must Do event!    


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Originally published in the Villager newspapers on September 18, 2009


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