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Harvest Festival celebrates area’s ag history
September 09, 2010 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
Now in its 14th year, the Harvest Festival, sponsored by the Farm And Ranch Museum (FARM) in Gering, is a weekend to showcase the impact agriculture had on the area.

FARM volunteer Jack Preston said that while they keep loose track of visitation, several thousand people attend the Harvest Festival. This year’s event is Sept. 18 and 19 throughout both days. Preston said visitors not only come from the local area, but also from Colorado, Wyoming and other parts of Nebraska.

Harvest Days features working demonstrations with both mechanized and horse drawn equipment. This year’s featured crop is corn. On both days, FARM volunteers will plant both check-row and list corn, cultivate corn, pick with three different kinds of corn pickers and by hand, as well as grind and shell corn. They also plan to thresh wheat and will have potatoes for the public to dig.

Each day will also feature a parade of tractors and horse drawn equipment, as well as hay rack rides. Stationary engines will also be on display and blacksmithing demonstrations. Each morning, a cowboy campfire and coffee will be available. And the Kiwanis will sponsor a pancake breakfast both Saturday and Sunday mornings at 7 a.m.

The Harvest Festival is scheduled on Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday activities start off with a church service from 9 – 10 a.m. Both days, FARM’s small herd of longhorn cattle will also be on display.

“We do the Harvest Festival each year to preserve the agricultural heritage of the valley,” Preston said. “We hope to educate both adults and children on the changes we’ve gone through, from horse drawn to mechanized equipment, in bringing food to America.”

He added they also schedule the Festival for fun. Many members remember farming as children with new equipment that is now antique. “We get a lot of people who are interested in how our agriculture evolved,” Preston. “We also get draw people who are hobbyists and collect antique tractors. When we did our program on sugar beats last year, a lot of people wanted to know why and how. I don’t know if you can really call it education. It’s more curiosity.”

In advance of the Harvest Festival, FARM is hosting a program on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. with John Smith and Drew Lyon from the University of Nebraska Research and Extension Center.

We’ll be talking about the development of machinery in ag production and demonstrating how it works,” Preston said. “It’s more technically oriented, but the public should find it interesting.”

Admission to the Harvest Festival is $3, with FARM members, exhibitors and children under 10 free. Food concessions will also be available during both days.

FARM is located west of Gering on Old Oregon Trail, on the way to the Scotts Bluff National Monument. For more information on the schedule of events, call them at 436-1989.
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