Farm-City Week celebrated in Bladen County

By: W. Curt Vincent -

ELIZABETHTOWN — About 125 people attended the annual Farm-City Week Banquet at the Powell-Melvin Agricultural Service Center on Tuesday to pay homage to the history and future of agriculture in Bladen County.

The evening was sponsored by the Elizabethtown Kiwanis Club, Smithfield Hog Production, Bladen County Farm Bureau and several others.

Farm-City Week is observed each year during the week prior to Thanksgiving and annually receives a proclamation by the president of the United States asking residents to give thanks to those who contribute to the country’s agriculture.

“It’s important we take time this week of Thanksgiving to show our thanks for all we have here in Bladen County,” said Keith Walters, the Southeast District Extension director. “We realize about $383 million in agriculture receipts here each year, and a lot of those dollars stay here in Bladen County.”

Walters went on to point out some of the crops that Bladen County ranks in the Top 10 statewide — including Hogs and pigs at No. 3; livestock, dairy and poultry at No. 4; vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries ant No. 5; and peanuts at No. 6.

He also told the crowd that a name change will be coming soon for the Extension Service. Once known as the Agricultural Extension, it has been known most recently as the Cooperative Extension — and soon will become the N.C. State Extension.

After Jeff Futrell, president of the Elizabethtown Kiwanis Club, spoke briefly about this being the 100th anniversary of Kiwanis International, he turned things over to Mary Winfree of Lumberton, who serves as the lieutenant governor of Carolinas District 26.

“Kiwanis International has been going through the Eliminate Project, which provides the tetnus vaccine to those children around the world who need it,” she said. “And just think … for just $1.89 a life can be saved.

“And here in Elizabethtown, one member of the local club stood out for his generous contribution to the Eliminate Project,” she added. “And tonight I want to recognize Michael Aycock with the Walter Zeller Fellowship award.”

Following the award presentation, nine members of the Bladen County 4-H took turns talking with those gathered about various projects the organization works with its youth members on — including the Quiz Bowl, livestock judging, raising and exhibiting an animal, the regional chicken project, youth leadership and Ag’em Up Days.

“We want to teach children how to raise animals safely and humanely, as well as how to properly show livestock and promote sportsmanship,” said Becky Spearman, an agent with the Extension Service.

Sandra Cain, the director of the Bladen County Extension Service, concluded the evening by emphasizing the importance of agriculture to the county.

“This week, as we gather with family and friends around the Thanksgiving table, it is fitting that we count among our blessings the vital Farm-City partnerships that have done so much to improve the quality of our lives,” she said.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent