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Kutztown Farmers’ Night celebrates farming community

The 87th Annual Farmers’ Night celebration at Lyons Fire Company honored members of the agriculture community and showed appreciation for their work during an evening of fellowship, food and speakers on Feb. 15.

The event is co-hosted annually by the Kutztown Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Fleetwood.

“From the hardworking farmers and viticulturists to the skilled honey producers and nurseries, last night was a celebration of agricultural excellence,” the Kutztown Rotary posted on its Facebook page after the event. “It was inspiring to see FFA students alongside Rotarians and elected officials, all coming together to support our vibrant agricultural community. With vocational service at the heart of it all, we honored 161 individuals who dedicate their lives to feeding and sustaining our nation.”

The 87th Annual Farmers' Night Celebration, co-hosted annually by the Kutztown Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Fleetwood, offered an evening of fellowship for Rotarians and farmers at Lyons Fire Company on Feb. 15. (Photo courtesy of Amy Sheller, Kutztown Rotary Club)
The 87th Annual Farmers’ Night Celebration, co-hosted annually by the Kutztown Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Fleetwood, offered an evening of fellowship for Rotarians and farmers at Lyons Fire Company on Feb. 15. (Photo courtesy of Amy Sheller, Kutztown Rotary Club)

Farmers’ Night consisted of dinner, happy hour, music, speakers and recognition of a farm family of the year and agricultural students of the month.

“The Kutztown Rotary Club is 98 years old and for 87 of those years has organized Farmers’ Night. We are proud to carry on the tradition of honoring our agricultural professionals,” Kutztown Rotary Club President Kurt Rohrbach said in a statement.

“Farmers’ night is an annual celebration of vocational service, which is contributing to society through one’s work life,” he continued. “A perfect example of this is the work of farmers who feed us, care for our land, contribute to our economy and preserve our heritage.”

Along with the Taste of Kutztown festival, Farmers’ Night is one of the club’s premier annual events intended to enhance life in the community.

“The presence of over 20 sponsors and regional dignitaries highlights the importance placed on this event. It is also a lot of fun, a reunion of sorts,” said Rohrbach.

“Our Farmers’ Night Committee raised the bar on vocational service with this 87th Farmers’ Night,” said longtime event chairman and Kutztown Rotarian Robert Hobaugh. “All farmers, sponsors and students expressed their appreciation for being honored and having a night of fellowship.”

Those in attendance included 66 farmers, 42 Rotarians, 31 special guests and 10 sponsored guests, including local agriculture students.

“We hope that our guests, both farmers and agriculture students, feel honored and appreciated for their farming work,” Hobaugh said.

Vocational service is one of Rotary International’s five avenues of service.

“That means, recognizing the value of all honorable trades and professions,” Hobaugh said. “The Rotary Club of Kutztown has celebrated farming each year since 1938. We enjoy farming in our community for the quality of life and economic impact that it provides.”

This event celebrates farming and related commercial activities in the East Penn Valley. Those activities include dairy, cattle, poultry, grains, organics, specialty produce, honey production, viticulture and nursery products, Hobaugh said.

Recognition

“A special highlight was the recognition of outstanding students from Kutztown Area School District, Brandywine Heights Area High School and Fleetwood Area High School, alongside honoring a local farm family of the year,”  Hobaugh said. “This event truly showcased the dedication and talent within our community.”

Kutztown Rotarian Doug Wunder presented an award and gift certificate to Brandywine student Samantha Griffing and Kutztown student Katelyn Heckman. Fleetwood Rotarian Frank Brown presented an award and gift certificate to Oley Valley FFA student Allison Riley.

Kutztown Rotary Club honored the Schlegel family of Oley, who operate the R-Lost Creek Farm, as Farm Family of the Year. The family includes grandparents Richard and Janet, son Kevin, daughter Heidi Berger and her daughters, Heidi and Sarah. Rotarian Kaleigh Grim presented them with a $200 gift certificate to the Yellow House Hotel.

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Speakers

Sen. Judy Schwank spoke about legislation affecting agriculture and Rep. Jamie Barton spoke about the proposed budget of Gov. Josh Shapiro.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved in agriculture in Pennsylvania!” Schwank said in a statement. “We are working on the 2024 Pennsylvania Farm Bill and have a budget proposal in front of us that integrates agriculture into the commonwealth’s economic development strategy.

“Our unique distinction as the sole state with its own Farm Bill fills us with immense pride. This upcoming year presents us with the chance to continue investing in the agricultural sector and solidifying Pennsylvania’s position as a leader in agriculture nationwide.”

Sen. Judy Schwank speaks at the Kutztown Rotary Club's 87th Annual Farmers' Night Celebration held at Lyons Fire Company on Feb. 15. (Photo courtesy of Amy Sheller, Kutztown Rotary Club)
Sen. Judy Schwank speaks at the 87th Annual Farmers’ Night Celebration held at Lyons Fire Company on Feb. 15. (Photo courtesy of Amy Sheller, Kutztown Rotary Club)

Schwank said Farmer’s Night is an opportunity to connect with local farmers and FFA members.

“I love to learn about what these folks are doing and see how state policies are impacting them and how the state can better support them,” she said. “It’s a chance to reconnect with folks I consider friends. I’ve seen many of the same faces at this event over the years, so it’s just nice to check in and see how people you’ve developed a connection with are doing and what they’ve been up to.

“We are fortunate to live in an area with a rich agricultural history. I’m grateful to all of Berks County’s hardworking farmers for all they do to put food on our tables and help power Pennsylvania’s economy.”

Barton said Pennsylvania’s farm bill changed the trajectory of the ag industry. He also talked about broadband expansion and the steps being taken to cover all corners of the commonwealth. He relayed news about the repeal of what he described as outdated and inconsistent testing requirements for frozen dessert makers, Barton shared in a statement after the event.

Rep. Jamie Barton speaks at the Kutztown Rotary Club's 87th Annual Farmers' Night Celebration held at Lyons Fire Company on Feb. 15. (Photo courtesy of Amy Sheller, Kutztown Rotary Club)
Rep. Jamie Barton speaks at the 87th Annual Farmers’ Night Celebration held at Lyons Fire Company on Feb. 15. (Photo courtesy of Amy Sheller, Kutztown Rotary Club)

“I love that the community comes together to thank a group of people who work an incredibly difficult, often thankless job,” Barton said. “In a time when so many folks are struggling with food insecurity, we should be raising up the people that nourish our communities. Our farmers don’t just help feed Berks County, or even just the commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s farmers help feed the entire country. They deserve so much gratitude, and Farmers’ Night gives us a chance to thank them in person.”

He said he appreciates the chance to shake the hands of the men and women who help put food on our tables.

“Our farmers work from sunup to sundown for months on end, so it’s great to see them get a chance to relax with the community and their fellow farmers,” Barton said. “It’s also a perfect opportunity for me as a state representative to listen to their struggles, both on their farms and throughout their industries, to see whether I’d be able to help come up with some real solutions.”

Barton will be hosting his own agriculture appreciation event — a Blessing of the Balers to pray for a safe, productive and prosperous planting season — at C.J. Hummels Restaurant in Lenhartsville from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on March 6. Attendees are encouraged to bring their hitch pins. The event includes a breakfast to show appreciation for the hard work of 124th Legislative District farmers. RSVP by calling 484-660-3721 or visit www.RepBarton.com/Events.

Sponsors

Farmers’ Night sponsors included Albright’s Mill, LLC; Berks Farm Bureau; Danenhower Apiaries, LLC; Deer Country Farm & Lawn, Inc.; First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union; Fisher Agency, LLC; Fleetwood Bank; Fulton Bank; Gifts ‘N Things; Edward J. Hildenbrand Funeral Home, Inc.; Attorney Robert Hobaugh; Oley Valley Feed, Inc., and Setter Ridge Vineyards.

Setter Ridge supplied wine and Danenhower Apiaries, LLC, supplied honey included in centerpieces for guests. Tim Snyder of Fleetwood Bank spoke about its support for this event during the last 35 years.

The Farmers’ Night Committee includes Mike Collins, Marie DeFilipps, Holly Diefenderfer, Meredith Drumheller, Florita Hobaugh, Melissa Kirk, Ellen Overcast, Joni McPike, Kurt Rohrbach, Amy Sheller, Jim Springer, Chris Volk and Douglas Wunder.


Source: Berkshire mont

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