From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
It is hard to believe another year is drawing to a close. It seems like just yesterday we were planning for the Got to Be NC Festival in May, now we have also closed the gates on the annual Mountain State Fair and the N.C. State Fair.
I want to thank everyone who came out and supported these celebrations of agriculture. I am so proud that people continue to look forward to these events each year, and I am especially proud that so many people choose to participate in them.
Our fairs are designed to showcase the very best North Carolina has to offer, and we certainly saw that in the competitions. Entries were up in a number of categories and remained strong in some of our most popular classes.
Junior livestock comp-etitions were one of the strongest categories, which I consider to be a positive sign for the future of agriculture. On our Deep Fried at the N.C. State Fair blog, we highlighted a 4-H group from Franklin County that had members showing for the very first time at the State Fair.
That will be an experience those young people will remember for the rest of their lives. It is hard to say whether any of them will pursue an agricultural profession, but they now have a greater appreciation of where their food comes from and the responsibility involved in raising livestock. We need more young people like the Franklin County kids to take an interest in agriculture.
I think the most important message I took away from following these articles is how the agricultural knowledge and experience is being passed down from one generation to another, and even at times being shared from peer to peer. I was impressed how more experienced teens such as Joey Moore, Ted Noe and Jacob Noe were able to help first-time 4-Hers learn to care for an animal and learn how to show those animals in competition.
And it was great to see Bunn sheep farmer Carvel Cheves, a 2010 State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame Inductee, and 4-H leader Alesia Moore offering these young people guidance and advice to help them learn more about animal agriculture.
I applaud the commitment of everyone involved -- from parents who saw that their children were at weekly meetings and the kids eager to learn, to the mentors and 4-H leaders who kept everyone on track.
Our blog highlighted just one group in its efforts leading up to the State Fair, but there are many, many more 4-H kids and leaders and livestock leaders who have similar stories to tell.
In fact, this year a total of seven people were inducted into the Livestock Hall of Fame at either the Mountain State Fair or State Fair. This has been a way to recognize and honor the contributions of the many livestock contributors who have helped make the fair shows successful.
Inducted this year into the Mountain State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame were Glen "Corky" Boyd of Haywood County, Dr. David Waldrep of Asheville, and Neal and Shirley Stamey of Haywood County.
Boyd, who was honored posthumously, raised prize-winning Limousin cattle and provided cattle for youth participants for many years. Waldrep, who is a regional field veterinarian with 28 years of service with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has checked in thousands of cattle, goats, llamas, sheep, swine and poultry during his tenure. His efforts have helped ensure healthy animals in competition.
The Stameys have been an integral part of the Mountain State Fair Beef Cattle shows, where Neal has served as superintendent of the show for 18 years with his wife's assistance. In the past, the couple also opened their farm for showmanship clinics for youth.
Inducted into the State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame in October were Kenneth Vaughan of Statesville, Dr. John C. Wilk of Raleigh and Joyce Wilson of Zebulon.
Vaughan, who was also inducted posthumously, had been involved with the dairy shows for more than 30 years, serving as superintendent for the past 14 years.
Wilk is a professor emeritus in the N.C. State University Animal Science Department, where he has served as an adviser to the Animal Science Club, coached the college team and provided Jersey cows for competition.
Wilson was recognized for her involvement with horse shows. She started working with them in 1982, serving as both assistant horse show secretary and head horse show secretary. This year, she was the manager for the all-breed horse shows.
We should all be proud that so many people are willing to share their expertise and time to help make livestock shows at the fairs so successful.
Congratulations to all who competed and to those who were inducted into a hall of fame, and thank you for all who helped with these shows.
Happy holidays to you and your family!