Keenan Bishop has given you a bit of the history of the Farm-City Field Day here, now in its 56th glorious year. I will give you a bit more of the day’s personality.
First, I continue to maintain it’s the Best Say of the Summer — even if it is just four hours that are sometimes steamy, sometimes cool, sometimes very wet. It’s on this day folks come together, albeit not the crowd of near a thousand that Field Day Founding Father Paul Gray used to claim, but nonetheless a few hundred of my best friends.
My first Field Day was sometime back in the early 1970s when then-grocer and now famous gardener Wayne Parrish took this old city boy somewhere in the county to see what was shakin’ on a working farm.
And, my how things have changed since then!
If there were five “stops” then, four of them focused on raising burley tobacco. More than half the people riding the tractor-drawn wagons in those days puffed while we went — and no one thought a thing about secondhand smoke or all the damage we were doing to our health.
But, as Keenan writes, times have changed and with those changes so has the Field Day, at least when it comes to the focus of the stops.
At it’s beginning there were a lot of full-time farmers in our county. Then there was a real divide between “living in the country” and, as they said, “living in town.” It was an amicable difference and Gray’s hope was to help “city folks” better understand what it takes to run a farm and, too, let farmers see first hand some of the cutting-edge technology and innovation from the University of Kentucky.
Gray’s fish fry — changed to a ribeye steak sandwich lunch when Roger Sparrow was county agent — was always well hidden so that folks would “take the tour” and not just come to eat the fish!
The late Winston Williams rang a cowbell to call visitors to the wagons.
Ken Wells from UK’s College of Agriculture always spoke at the first stop about the farm’s history. One year, when we were between agents, Ken even ran the Field Day.
Many of the faces have changed with the passage of more than half a century but the spirit remains the same.
And that makes the Field Day the Best Day of the Summer!