On the third Saturday after Labor Day Weekend the grounds of The Woodstock Fair once again come alive with an event that continues to grow every year and attract ever increasing crowds. This was Celebrating Agriculture 2017. This event was the 17th in the series that began in 2001 when a group of local citizens got together and decided to sponsor an event that would showcase agriculture in northeast Connecticut. The event they envisioned would be focused on agriculture alone. There were no competitions but there were many booths and displays representing the many different segments of Connecticut agriculture.
One of the big draws of the celebration is that there is no admission or parking fee. This year the Ekonk Grange of Sterling, CT offered a hearty farm style breakfast prepared by members of the Grange. It should be noted that during the course of the year the Grange prepares several dinners on Saturday evenings offering a variety of featured dishes.
One attraction that is a crowd pleaser is tractor drawn hay wagons that take visitors from the fairgrounds to the adjoining Fairvue Farm which has the largest milking herd in Woodstock with some 1,100 milking cows. This farm is owned by Paul and Dianne Miller, members of the Farmers Cow group. This is a group of six dairy farms located in northeastern Connecticut who banded together to pool their milk and have it bottled and sold under the Farmers Cow label. This method of marketing allows the participants some relief from the predictable fluctuations in the price of milk. The Farmers Cow group had a booth at the event selling ice cream and other dairy products.
On entering the display area, bleachers were set up to allow spectators to sit and watch area loggers and lumberjacks demonstrate the wide range of activities they engage in on a daily basis. One of the best demonstrations was the pole climbing. Several telephone poles were set up and at the sound of a whistle the contestants showed off their pole climbing skills. Chain saw skills were demonstrated as were the more basic tools of the trade. Nearby a chain saw artist showed off his skills in crafting models of many different creatures.
In the sheep barn several exhibitors had displays and booths, some with homemade products for sale while others had current information to hand out to those strolling by.
An alley in the cattle barn was devoted to the work of local ladies who spent hours crafting beautiful rugs and quilts that were hung to be viewed by admirers. In the same building were representative animals found on local farms — cows, alpacas, goats and sheep — all of whom contribute to the diversity of local agriculture. The FFA Chapter from Mansfield had a table where members were busily engaged in arranging flowers, a skill they were learning in their Floriculture Classes. At the north end of the barn a country music group, Peter Lange and the Hickory Wind, entertained to the enjoyment of those passing by. Tables were set aside for children’s activities such as drawing, coloring and games. Each of these activities seemed to have a farming theme.
A group of local horse enthusiasts were located outside with scheduled demonstrations of various equine activities that horses are required to perform when competing at horse shows. The experienced crew on hand were willing and able to answer almost any question that was asked of them by those in attendance.
For those who had never eaten a Bison burger this event provided the perfect opportunity. Up from Brooklyn came Creamery Brook Bison Farm to grill their product and provide an opportunity for many. Nearby local nurseryman Paul Larson had a display of chrysanthemums for sale.
This show has grown into a regional affair and to make it all happen the committee depends on the support of many organizations, firms and individuals. The response has been excellent. Without it this program would not be able to show off the diversity that is Connecticut agriculture. Much credit is due all of those who contributed in any way.