Henry County Harvest Showcase

Local farmers market plays
big role in annual farm show

Chamber provides
breakfast for the early birds

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

NEW CASTLE, Ky. (July 2011) – After leaving a full-time job to take a part-time position with the Henry County school system, Melissa Blankenship thought she needed to occupy herself with seasonal summertime work. Having been a faithful supporter of the local farmers market, she decided to participate as a vendor.
“I really liked the idea of buying locally grown, fresh produce,” she said. And I’ve always loved to grow things – anything! Flowers, house plants, wildflowers and vegetables just fit right in.”

Melissa Blankenship

Photo provided

Melissa Blankenship
and husband, Troy,
produce and sell items
from their Drennon Hill
Farm in Henry County.

Blankenship and her husband live on 20 acres near Drennon in Henry County.
Blankenship has been part of the local farmers market for four years. She is in her second year serving as president and said that, “amazingly, there are still folks that don’t know about the Henry County Farmers Market or when we are open.”
In the time she has been involved in the farmers market, she has “seen growth in our vendors in terms of offering more of a variety of produce, fruit, plants, eggs, honey, herbs and other items, as well as more value-added products like jams, jellies, baked goods, crafts, etc.”
The Blankenship’s have begun raising hogs, having tripled their stock for this year. They produce sausage through a USDA-certified facility. They also sell half-hogs and Blankenship said, “Interest in locally-raised pork has been surprisingly strong.”
Blankenship will have sausage from her Drennon Hill Farm for sale and will take orders for hogs at the 12th annual Harvest Showcase and Lunch at the Farmers Market on Saturday, July 30. Open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., this free event will feature music, food and fun at the Henry County Fairgrounds located on Hwy. 421 between New Castle and Pleasureville.
“Henry County farmers, craftspeople, local and regional chefs and ag business people will be showcasing their agricultural products,” said Henry County Extension Agent Maryellen Garrison, who helps organize this event. The Showcase will also “hold lots of appeal for children who will enjoy the old-time games, visiting the Livestock Pavilion and milking Kentucky Kate.”
Vendors and early birds will have the chance to get breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. at the Fairgrounds kitchen. The menu includes locally cured country ham, eggs from Lazy Hen Farm, homegrown tomatoes, coffee, orange juice and water for $8 a plate. Biscuit and ham sandwiches with a drink will be available for $5 or two for $6.
This breakfast is “sponsored by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce but is open to anyone who wishes to share our breakfast,” said Pat Wallace, Executive Director of the chamber. The food is cooked by Jason Scriber and his family and friends. Many chamber members donate drinks and other items and take orders.
“Originally, we did the breakfast as a service to all the vendors who had to come early, but it became very popular and so we hope anyone who wants a good country breakfast will come,” Wallace said. “The chamber is a big supporter of our farming community.”
An Antique Tractor Show and kids games will begin at 10 a.m. In addition to farm fresh produce, hay, straw, flowers and much more, a Corn Eating Contest will be held along with local musical entertainment. A Tractor Show at 4 p.m. will close out the Harvest Showcase.
A newly formed regional farmers group, sponsored by Henry County Farmers, will meet at 1 p.m. “This event is a grassroots attempt to promote the agricultural economy to local residents and also an opportunity to reach out to our city neighbors and help them to reconnect with the land,” said Garrison.
Last year, the Harvest Showcase saw more than 4,000 people in attendance from various Kentucky counties, Ohio and Indiana.
For Blankenship, the farmers market and the Harvest Showcase are inseparable. The showcase provides a regional venue to display the farmers markets’ vendors’ homegrown, handcrafted goods. “The Harvest Showcase introduces us to new customers in our own county and encourages customers from surrounding counties to come see us,” she said.
There is a lot of value in the farmers’ market products and what you’ll find at the Harvest Showcase, said Blankenship. Not only extremely fresh, the produce and various products are grown “by people you know and can trust. There is a trust between our vendors and our customers, and we build relationships.”

• For more information, contact the Henry County Extension Office at (502) 845-2811.

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