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LaRue ag event among nation's best

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AGstravaganza one of 24 recognized nationwide

By Linda Ireland

LaRue County’s celebration of agriculture, AGstravaganza, is one of 24 programs nationwide to be recognized by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

It is among the most “innovative program ideas” to be highlighted during AFBF’s 95th annual convention in January in San Antonio, Texas.

Price Smith, agency manager of LaRue County Farm Bureau, said the organization is “very honored and pleased to have been nominated and to have received this recognition.”

“We’re especially appreciative of all of our sponsors that helped make our event a success,” Smith said.

AGstravaganza was the brainchild of Dale Dobson, Farm Bureau board member and safety administrator for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

The Aug. 10 event drew about 400 visitors to five farming operations in the county.

Dobson said the event was “a way to put farmers and the public together at the public’s convenience.”

“We catered the day not to farmers, but to the public,” he said. “They got to pick and choose what time – and what farm – they visited.”

His committee spent about 18 months organizing AGstravaganza.

Tour locations were Gaddie’s Hay and Cattle, Hinton’s Orchard and Farm Market, Homestead Family Farms, Bivens’ Fresh Start Farms, Lee’s Garden Center and Shady Rest Farm.

Participants got to see show cattle, large farm equipment, grain operations, barns and silos, a pig farm, retail establishments and orchards. The event ended with a petting zoo and other activities for children, a trade show, board meeting, free meal and concert by country artist J.D. Shelburne.

Misty Bivens, a board member, co-chairwoman of the AGstravaganza committee and agriculture teacher at LaRue County High School, said Dobson came up with a “way to make our Farm Bureau annual meeting more about educating the public about agriculture. We were very fortunate to have several sponsors in the community that worked with us to make this event happen.”

Dobson said he began with an idea of “sights, sounds and smells” of local agriculture. Bivens came up with the AGstravaganza theme.

“My advantage was that I travel across the state (putting on safety demonstrations) and brought back ideas from other groups,” he said.

“The board all stood behind me,” he added. “I couldn’t do it without them.”

The County Activities of Excellence program acknowledges and shares successful county Farm Bureau programs and activities in the areas of education and ag promotion, member services, public relations and information, leadership development and policy implementation.

Nelson County’s Ag Day at the Fair also was honored, along with winners from 14 other states.

John Torres, director of leadership development for AFBF, provided criteria for the County Activities of Excellence Award Program:

  • Any county Farm Bureau in the United States is eligible to apply for the award. Counties may apply for one award per year through their state Farm Bureau office. Counties may not win the award more than two consecutive years. If they have won two consecutive years in a row, they must sit out a year before applying again.
  • Only 24 applications are selected for recognition by the AFBF. Applicants are judged alongside other applicants in the same membership category which is based on the size of membership of the county Farm Bureau.
  • All winning applicants are invited to display at the AFBF Annual Convention Tradeshow. Winners receive a $2,250 cash stipend to help defray the cost of travel to the convention.

AGstravaganza 2014 is set for Aug. 9.