Preparations are well under way at the Sampson County Cooperative Extension for this year’s Community Ag Day, a free, fun-filled, ag-centered day for the whole family, youngsters and adults alike.
Set for Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Extension office, located one mile south of Clinton on Hwy. 421, the event will be packed with a wide variety of ag-focused activities and demonstrations as well as live entertainment — everything from cloggers to the United Methodist hand bell group, even dogs performing tricks — and concessions.
“We’re going to have 30 different vendors here that day,” shared Charmae Kendall. “Everything from pork to prawn (shrimp).”
And those vendors will be ready to educate both young and old in many aspects of agriculture through hands-on activities, Kendall pointed out.
For example, Kooba Dairy will bring a dairy cow to the event so attendees can learn how to milk a cow; Prestage Farms will have turkey eggs available, ones at all different stages of incubation, so kids can handle the eggs and see the developing poults inside; the Sampson County History Museum will offer kids the opportunity to learn how to use both antique and modern tools; and the state Department of Agriculture will have their ag education trailer at the event, to name a few.
There will also be a barnyard set up full of cute farm animals, train rides provided by Hubb’s Corn Maze, balloon creations sponsored by Big Blue, live horse demonstrations, a pedal tractor pull put on by the United Pullers of the Carolinas, and “take home” garden opportunities made possible by the Master Gardeners and Boy Scout Pack 70.
“It’s a family, free event with lots of activities for kids. There will be at least 20 free, hands-on activities for the kids, so plan on coming out early because there’s going to be lots to do,” said Kendall, adding that kids will also be able to participate in a scavenger hunt which, if completed, will help them better understand where their food comes from as well as earn them a prize. “And be ready to take home some freebies and goodies, and sample some of the products made right here in North Carolina.”
According to Kendall, everyone in the Extension office is eagerly anticipating Community Ag Day which was started back some five years ago and has grown every year; last year 500 people were in attendance.
“It’s definitely a staff event. All the extension staff will be helping out,” she said, holding up one of the specially made red shirts the staff will wear that day, thanks to JDS Advertising’s donation.
“The purpose of it is to bring the community together and bring more ag awareness to the community,” she explained. “Ag can get a bad name because, unfortunately, some people believe everything they read on the Internet…It’s amazing how in Sampson County 20 percent of the employees have an ag-related job and it certainly impacts our local economy.”
“Many people don’t really know where their food comes from; most just assume it comes from the grocery store. There’s less and less people being raised on farms so there’s less and less people who know the importance of farmers, and we want to help make that connection,” she continued, adding that the number of legislators with an ag background is also dwindling. “As fast as the world is growing, we’ve got to feed people and that’s what farmers are doing.”
In addition to raising more, much-needed ag awareness in the community, another thing makes this year’s Community Ag Day especially significant is that it is a major part of the local Extension’s celebration of the state Cooperative Extension’s centennial anniversary.
As a partner in the new Barn Quilts of Sampson County effort, the Extension is incorporating that project into its Community Ag Day and centennial celebration.
“We’ll be presenting the two (barn quilts) that are going to be hung on our building,” remarked Kendall. The Extension’s two 8x8 barn quilts will feature the project’s signature design of four barns representing the four local entities who have come together to create the public art project — the Sampson County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), the Sampson Arts Council, the Sampson County History Museum, and the Sampson County Cooperative Extension — as well as a millstone, a reference to the “Milling Around” public art piece in downtown Clinton and the millstones that are on display at the history museum and the Extension office. The barn quilts will hang in honor of George Upton who worked with the Extension for over 50 years.
To get youngsters in on the Extension’s centennial celebration, many one hundred-centered activities will be offered to them during Community Ag Day, including a one hundred fitness challenge, one hundred-themed glasses to design and wear, and a one hundred-themed photo opportunity.
“It’s definitely a celebration of us being here and serving the community for 100 years and on into the future,” said Kendall.
As they work on making final preparations for the event, the Cooperative Extension staff wished to thank those who have made donations and helped make yet another Community Ag Day possible — Clinton Truck & Tractor Co., Alltech, Monsanto/Triple M Farm, Farm Bureau, JDS Advertising, Big Blue, Cape Fear Farm Credit, NC Blueberry Council, and United Way.
For more information about Community Ag Day, please call 910-592-7161.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.