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Kutztown Rotary Club continues tradition of thanking farmers

The Kutztown Rotary Club continued its tradition of thanking the farming community during the Farmer’s Night picnic held at the Maidencreek Township Community Park in Blandon on Sept. 11.

“(Farmer’s Night) is an opportunity to bring the farmers of the community together and give a meal and recognize all they do for the community and the world at large,” said Kutztown Rotary Club President Tom Kulp. “With COVID, we’ve noticed that everyone needs farmers even more. I think it means even more now to recognize people who do go the extra mile to get the food to the tables of the people that need it. That’s the people we have here tonight.”

Kutztown Rotary has hosted Farmer’s Night for 84 years.

“I’m proud to be the next president in line to keep this tradition going,” Kulp said.

Although the Kutztown Rotary Club was not able to hold the Farmer’s Night Dinner like usual in February at the Kutztown Grange due to COVID restrictions, the Club decided to host the 2021 dinner as a picnic in September.

“This is our 84th year so we wanted to still be able to honor farmers this year; they’re such a big part of our community and of Berks County. They are so very important in this area,” said Melissa Kirk, Kutztown Rotary Club Secretary and Kutztown Rotary Foundation President. “So we did move it to a picnic… outside so a little bit safer in the current environment.”

Kutztown and Fleetwood Rotarians, FFA and 4-H youth, and members of the farming community gathered under a pavilion for a BBQ-style dinner catered by Moyer’s Catering.

“It won’t be quite as big this year as our last one, which was almost 200 people because some people couldn’t make it. It’s not really the best time of the year for farmers,” said Kirk, “but we really still wanted to have it to still honor the farmers and not miss the year — still keep the tradition going every year.”

Lizzie Bailey, PR/Membership Director for Pennsylvania State Grange has been a guest at the Farmer’s Night Dinner for the past couple of years.

“I think any time that we get together and we discuss what’s going on in our farms and our communities, it’s an educational component,” said Bailey.

Farmer’s Night gives farmers an opportunity to can network and share what they have learned through their own experiences.

Speakers included Sen. Judy Schwank and Rotary District 7430 District Governor Bob Hobaugh.

Schwank speaks at Kutztown Farmer’s Night every year so she is thrilled that the Rotary Club gathered the farming community and Rotarians together, especially considering COVID prevented the Club from hosting the event in Februrary.

“By doing this I think it brings people back together and gets the gratitude that we want to show to our agricultural community going again,” said Schwank.

Sen. Judy Schwank spoke at Kutztown ...
Sen. Judy Schwank spoke at Kutztown Rotary Club’s Farmer’s Night picnic. (Photo by Lisa Mitchell – MediaNews Group)

Her favorite part is talking to people she does not always see all the time.

“But maybe even more so is the fact that the 4-H and FFA students are usually here. I love to hear them talk and see them receive awards,” she said. “It’s just nice to see them engaged. Every year watching some of them grow and graduate and others come in, it’s very rewarding.”

Schwank updated attendees on legislation affecting the agricultural community, including milk expiration date labeling, solar panels, broadband and conservation funding.

She also discussed the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The theme of so many speeches she heard that day focused on unity.

“We have farmers in great need in the western part of this country,” said Schwank, noting fires and drought in the west while those on the east have received so much rain that fields have been flooded. “We need to be mindful how the entire agricultural community in this country is fairing and what we can each do to support one another.”

“We celebrate the farmers for what they do.” — Bob Hobaugh, District Governor, Rotary District 7430

Hobaugh spoke about Rotary International being based on the Five Avenues of Service including vocational.

“We honor all worthy professions and avocations. When we have a community as we do and a state as we do is predominately agriculture, we have to recognize who the major players are in our community. We celebrate the farmers for what they do,” he said.

Local agriculture includes not only crops, dairy and meat but also wineries, mushrooms, tomatoes and organic.

“That adds a lot of cultural value to our table,” said Hobaugh. “We have excellent food here in this community and throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We also have the money that agriculture brings to us and that adds to the quality of life that we have.”

A long-time member of Kutztown Rotary Club, for 25 years Hobaugh served on the committee that organizes the Farmer’s Night event. This was his first year not serving on that committee since he is serving Rotary in a new role as District Governor.

Rotary District 7430 District Governor Bob ...
Rotary District 7430 District Governor Bob Hobaugh spoke at Kutztown Rotary Club’s Farmer’s Night picnic. (Photo by Lisa Mitchell – MediaNews Group)

Hobaugh thanked the committee members that took over organizing the event this year: Marie DeFilipps, Nancy Hildenbrand, Florita Hobaugh, Melissa Kirk, Tom Kulp, Joni McPike, Ellen Overcast, Kurt Rohrbach, Jim Springer, Chris Volk and Connie Werley.

“We’re very fortunate to have the event this year. COVID made it impossible to meet in February as we normally do so I say, ‘Think outside of the box, have some fun.’ I’m grateful that the committee did this,” said Hobaugh.

Hobaugh was sworn in about three months ago as District Governor for Rotary District 7430 which encompasses five counties: Berks, Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks and Montgomery.

“The District Governor is a servant leader. I’m also a cheerleader for people,” he said. “My job in the first month is to meet with all of 47 Rotary clubs in our district and encourage them, try to make them the best Rotarians they can be.”

The picnic concluded with a performance by Berks County musician, composer and entertainer Dave Kline.

The Rotary Club anticipates hosting the 2022 Farmer’s Night Dinner in February when the event is usually held.

The 2021 Farmer’s Night event sponsors were Fleetwood Bank, Albrights Feed Mill, Fulton Bank, Berks County Farmers Bureau, Oley Valley Feed, Inc. and Spotts Insurance Group.

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Source: Berkshire mont

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