Farming at the Fair
Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio

I recently made a trip to Warren, Minnesota to certify some crop acres.  I noticed something odd as I passed the fairgrounds, a field of alfalfa.  I gave it little thought until later when I received a phone call.

Jim Potucek had spoken with my old tractorcade buddies, Dexter Gonsorowski and Gerald Duray this past winter.  Jim and some friends wanted to celebrate the old ways of farming.  The new trend in farming is small scale diversification coupled with added value gained from marketing and reduced processing.  You see, this is hardly a new trend as that’s what a farm was about a fifty years ago.   Once upon a time farmers were General Practitioners, not just specialists-a revelation which spurred a few organizers to present a different slice of the farm than you’ll see at most threshing bees. (nothing wrong with a threshing bee, though)  This year at the Marshall County Fair in Warren, Minnesota you can watch real home-grown farmers spread real home-grown manure and perform a myriad of tasks long overshadowed by the smoke of huge traction engines and the dust from threshing machines.  Jim Potucek shared memories during our phone call of second cutting alfalfa and the yearly county fair sharing the same space.  This is one reason that each afternoon of the fair you will see the sons of farmers harvest alfalfa from that little field of alfalfa I saw just south of the cotton candy and bumper cars in Warren, Minnesota.

This exhibit has already stirred some memories for me.  Back in the early eighties, I heard of places that were similar to amusement parks but with a farming theme- unfortunately these places were rare twenty-five years ago.   It seems the farm show has suddenly become more popular. Most people I know have no interest in visiting a huge theme park or lack the gas money for a long trip.  They want exhibits that are close to home, connect them to the past and share the love a farmer has for the land.  Agriculture and history blend together into the perfect smoothie for a public thirsty for direction.  These are the reasons I think farm shows and exhibits have a bright future.   Our society rarely reflects because the future arrives more quickly every decade.  Farm exhibits like the one at the Marshall County fair present a rare opportunity to experience the simplicity that quiets the hum of modern life.  When life is quiet you can clearly hear your inner voice, your spouses voice and the voices of your children.  Farm shows are also a chance to bring money into small, rural communities and perhaps interest people in a little immigration rather than the current emigration. In short, we’ve got a great product to offer, it’s our lifestyle and our history.

I hope you attend the working farm demonstration at the Marshall County Fair.  It’s starts in just a few days then ends a few days later.  That’s a tiny window of opportunity to discover the past and get a little direction for the future.