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Henry County Harvest Showcase

Annual agricultural event
shows a sense of community

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

NEW CASTLE, Ky. (July 2006) – After retiring following 30 years of teaching in Jefferson County, Bonnie Cecil and her husband, John Grant, decided to experience a little bit of the country by moving to Henry County. They expected a slower paced lifestyle and the opportunity to raise a few farm animals and grow a small garden.

Photo courtesy of the Henry Co. Extension Office

Visitors to the Henry County
Harvest Showcase enjoy a scenic and
relaxing horse and wagon ride.

What they didn’t count on was immediately falling in love with their surroundings, to the point where they wanted to actively help preserve a swiftly fading rural lifestyle. The couple moved to Henry County at a time when agricultural preservation was on the minds of many farmers in the county. After speaking with local farmer and now Judge-Executive John Logan Brent, Cecil realized they shared the same ideas about the local farm economy and farming heritage.
Brent was instrumental in involving local farmers in his plans to organize a community showcase to pay tribute to the agricultural heritage of Henry County. With backing from the Community Farm Alliance, Brent, Ed Nelson and Chuck Smith organized the first Henry County Harvest Showcase in 1999. Now in its seventh year, the showcase promotes agricultural-related businesses by displaying and selling homemade products and the work of local craftspeople.
The seventh annual Showcase and lunch at the Farmers Market will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 29, at the Henry County Fairgrounds. Located on Hwy. 421, the fairgrounds is between New Castle and Pleasureville.
“We believe it is one of the largest local agricultural festivals in the state,” said Henry County Extension Agent Maryellen Garrison. “And it keeps growing every year.”
Included in the Farmers Market section will be various booths with offerings from the 20 members. This includes locally grown corn, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, peppers, cabbage, okra, kale, beets, heirloom tomatoes, peaches, blackberries, apples, pears, blueberries and melons.
Additional offerings from the approximately 100 vendor booths will be homemade products such as zucchini breads, fried apple pies, apple dumplings, jams, jellies, preserves, pickles, ice cream, homes, beeswax, and homey-based soap and lotions. Herbs, daylilies, ornamental grasses, flowers and farm-made trellises and flower hooks will be for sale.
“Henry County is home to some of the best farmers in the state and this lets them show it off,” said Garrison. “It is a chance to go back in time to relax, visit neighbors, buy fresh produce. It is fun, educational and entertaining.”
“A wide variety of arts and crafts will be displayed,” said Cecil. Demonstrators expected to be on hand include local weaver JoAnn Adams and traditional broommaker Donna Williams.
Children’s activities will include a petting barn, hayrides, scarecrow making, games led by the Henry County Care Team, and a youth Boer goat display. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture will supply its mobile classroom.
Breakfast will be available from the Henry County Chamber of Commerce from 7:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. A variety of offerings will be available for lunch, including selections from the Patron Restaurant in Louisville. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the New Castle Deli, Henry County Band, Henry County Cattlemen’s Association and the First Baptist Church will have food items for sale made from local commodities.
After becoming involved with the organization of the showcase, Cecil and her husband have become more serious about their own farming efforts. “I want to make my farm productive,” said Cecil of her farm that is located in the Turner’s Station vicinity.
Her vision is for Henry County to develop its agricultural efforts further and for future farmers to “have farming options and preserve these farms,” said Cecil. She has spoken with many young tenant farming couples who want to have a future in farming, but are worried about how to succeed in a vocation that has dwindled drastically in the last decade.
Cecil says the greatest impact of the showcase is on “people who live just beyond our (county) borders.” While she really can’t gauge how it affects people in the county, she does see the same familiar faces returning year after year from Jefferson and other counties. “It really impacts them,” she said of the 4,000 visitors to last year’s showcase. “Many families have made it a tradition to return.”

• For more information, contact Maryellen Garrison at (502) 845-2811.

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