Ever-evolving tradition

Annual Farm-City Field Day enters its 56th year with a few changes

By Keenan Bishop, Published:

After 56 years, the Farm-City Field Day qualifies as a tradition here in the county. We know of no other county that has continued a Farm-City Banquet and Farm-City Field Day for this long.

That’s not to say that Field Days haven’t changed and evolved over the years. That was apparent with the 50th anniversary Field Day when we visited the original farm and discussed the changes.

WHAT: Farm-City Field Day

WHERE: Danny Willis farm on Mt. Zion Road in Bald Knob

WHEN: Thursday, 9 a.m.

TICKETS: Farm Bureau Insurance offices

What hasn’t changed is the purpose and the volunteerism involved. The original idea as I’ve been told was to highlight new farming practices on a real working farm. Farmers would learn and the visiting government officials and towns- folk would get a glimpse of what farmers were up against.

As with any get together, a nice meal is always a good and appreciated thing. The first Field Day concluded with a fish fry and milk that was cooled in wash tubs in Benson Creek. Somewhere along the way it was determined that we raise more beef in the county than fish so the switch was made to ribeye sandwiches.

Each is different

Each Field Day is a little different depending on the host farm. Sometimes we can highlight certain practices and demonstrate some research projects. Sometimes we have a nice bucolic location for the meal, other times we have to improvise.

Most every farm is a challenge when it comes to figuring out a parking spot, figuring the tour route and then deciding on a spot to grill the steak, serve the meal and house the various educational displays and sponsor booths.

This year’s Field Day is this Thursday. Time is running out to get your tickets so head down to one of the Farm Bureau Insurance offices the first of the week if you haven’t already so we can plan to have enough food for everyone.

Last year we set a record with close to 800 attendees and pretty much ran out of everything right at the very end. That was a great turnout despite the wet weather and threat of rain. I will say the Field Day was convenient for folks since it was held at the Julian Farm not far from town on the four-lane Louisville Road.

Heading to Bald Knob

This year won’t be quite so convenient but nonetheless a great Field Day as we’ll be visiting the Bald Knob farm of Danny Willis out on Mt. Zion Road. The drive from town up Devils Hollow Road and on out through Choateville to the farm is a curvy little road so allow ample time and enjoy the scenery along the way.

It will seem like a long way from town but the farm actually adjoins the Cook farm where we had Field Day four years ago and not as far out as some sites of years past. Narrow country roads just make the ride seem longer. Watch for the signs but there is really no turn off until you get to the farm.

The farm, composed mainly of ridges and hollows (typical of Bald Knob), lends itself well to grazing and thus cattle is the “crop” on the 245 rolling acres. The cattle operation is one of the largest registered Saler herds in central Kentucky.

The Saler breed originated as a dual purpose breed from France and is pronounced “Sa-lair.” Matt Craig, the farm manager, handles the purebred breeding and showing operations.

You’ll meet Matt at one of the stops when he talks about the breed and the specifics of their operation. They keep a herd of about 60 cows or so that are bred using artificial insemination and embryo transfers. They annually sell around 2 dozen registered bulls as herd sires. You’ll learn more about this on the educational tour.

Matt does a lot of showing (he’s co-chair of our Beef Show committee) and showing livestock will be the very first stop on the educational tour, which starts at 9 a.m.

Leslie Reynolds, 4-H agent, and her 4-H Livestock Club will actually have their show animals there and will discuss the whole process for the different species (cattle, goat, sheep and swine).

A different start

This year we’ll start the tour a little different than in years past. You’ll actually park and register but then walk a short distance to the barn to visit with the livestock club at the first stop. There will be a tractor and wagon available for those that can’t make the stroll.

After you’re through viewing the animals and talking with the kids you’ll exit through the back of the barn and hop on a wagon for the traditional tour. This will allow folks to view the animals and interact with the club members as long as they like. The downside is that this may cause a little confusion and a potential traffic snarl but we think it should be worth it.

There will be four more stops along the route towards lunch once you’re back on the wagon.

One is an introduction into beekeeping thanks to the Capital City Beekeepers. There continues to be a growing interest in keeping these little pollinators and their sweet byproduct, honey.

Composting Animal Mortalities is a stop where Ira Linville, Franklin County Conservation District, and Ben Mefford, UK ANR Intern, will explain the natural process that the county is changing over to deal with dead animals.

As mentioned earlier, Matt Craig will talk about Saler and their herd operation. John Hancock from UK will bring their modified tractor and talk about the program that alters tractors, farm equipment and vehicles to allow farmers with limited mobility to continue to farm safely.

As always, we’ll end up at the display area under the tents for the signature ribeye sandwich cooked by the Cattlemen’s Association and complemented with all the sides provided by the VFW Post 4075.

Remember this is a Waste Free event now so pay attention as you toss your “trash” and make sure it goes into the correct receptacle. While visiting the booths and displays, take a moment to thank our sponsors and supporters. 

It takes more than 100 community volunteers to make this event successful including parking, tractor driving, serving food and cleaning up.

The Field Day is presented to you by the Chamber of Commerce, Conservation District, UK Extension and Farm Bureau and made possible by more than 30 groups and businesses that donate money or services.

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  • Thanks to everyone that makes this event possible. Special thanks to the Capital Area Master Gardeners!

  • This is an excellent community event, one all Franklin Countians should be proud of, educational and fun for all ages. Kudos to all that make this happen.