by Jennifer Wagester
AVON, NY — Although the day was rainy, record crowds were noted for the 2013 Livingston County Farm Fest. An estimated 1,200 attendees enjoyed this longstanding tradition that allows families to experience the wonders of farm life. Livingston County Farm Bureau hosts Farm Fest with help and support from the agricultural community. Over 47 sponsors donated their time and resources to make the day a success.
Advertising on the radio, billboards, and Facebook, in addition to newspaper adds, helped boost attendance. WBEE was onsite to provide live coverage of the event.
Farm Fest is held at Coyne Farms on Route 5 and 20. The farm’s location near I-390 makes it a convenient stop for those coming from Rochester or outlying areas.
The Coyne family dairy started in 1922 with 20 Guernsey cows that were milked by hand. Today, Coyne Farms milks about 700 cows at the main farm using modern milking technology. Farm Fest attendees could tour the milking parlor and meet the cows. From a seat on the hay wagon ride, they were able to see feed mixing and distribution. A tractor equipped with a loader bucket scooped feed into a large gravity wagon that transported it to the barns. For many youngsters, this was their first encounter with big farm machinery.
Farm Bureau members and volunteers staffed the wagon rides and talked about what cows eat and how much milk they produce. They also described each part of the farm and how Coyne Farms’ partnership with Worm Power has been positive. After viewing the farm, the wagon ride proceeded down Jenks Road to Worm Power.
Participants could tour Worm Power to see how manure from the Coyne family’s cows becomes organic fertilizer. Eight parts manure solids, one part moldy silage, and one part finished compost are mixed together. The mixture is then placed into large crates that are specially made to aerate the mixture and bring it to a temperature of 140-150°F to kill weed seeds and harmful bacteria. After two weeks, the mixture is moved to another crate to repeat the process before being placed into the top layer of the “worm beds” for conversion into fertilizer. Kids and adults alike could search the top layer of the beds for worms while Worm Power employees explained the process.
At the farm, youngsters could try calf roping, pet farm animals at the petting zoo provided by Sarah Batzing Cole, navigate a straw maze, or jump a horse through an event course. SUNY Geneseo Equestrian Team coach, Kim Sanford, and team members were on hand to help kids pick their stick horse mounts and successfully complete the course. J & A Farm Market & Greenhouses also provided each youth with a free pie pumpkin, and CG May FFA student volunteers hosted a variety of activities and games.
Participants could enjoy a free container of milk courtesy of Upstate Farms while listening to music by Kellys Old Timers, Western New York’s oldest round and square dance band. Nearby, booths showcased agricultural products.
Parents could stop by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department mobile station. Officers and staff were present to issue Safe Child ID cards to parents and guardians. The cards contain a child’s picture, name, biographical information, and fingerprint images of both index fingers.
Next to the station, large tractors and farm machinery were on display. Visitors climbed into the cabs for a bird’s-eye view and to learn more about how technology has changed farming tools. They also could see tractors in action as they pulled hay wagons for the farm tours.
Livingston County Farm Bureau sincerely appreciates Coyne Farms, Worm Power, and J & A Farm Market for hosting the event and the many agriculture-affiliated organizations and businesses that came together to make the day a success! Over the years, teamwork and hard work have helped Farm Fest grow and connect families with agriculture. Farm Fest 2013 was fantastic and plans are already being made to make 2014 even better!