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  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: Modern vs. Vintage Farming

article number 501
article date 11-10-2015
copyright 2015 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Faces On Our Farms, 1976, Part 2: Rural and Agricultural Events
by USDA
   

From the USDA 1976 Yearbook of Agriculture.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pictures are placed after the text which refers to the picture.

* * *

One thing about waiting for a parade in a small town—you know you’re going to recognize most of the people in the parade. Chances are good they’ll be related to you.

It’s fun to call out at a big sister strutting in front of the high school band to see if she’ll blush. Wonder what Ed will look like this year?

It takes only a few minutes to walk or drive to a good spot along the parade route . . . another few minutes to get home afterward. They have chairs for spectators at the Clio Fall Festival in Iowa.

   
Photo by Duane Dailey.

Farm people celebrate their accomplishments with a variety of special events, many of them traditional affairs held year after year, “as long as anyone can remember.” Weather, crop conditions, and livestock prices are invariably topics of conversation. Farmers also exchange ideas and pass along production tips.

There comes a time in every fair visit when sitting down is the thing to do—preferably in the shade.

   
Photo by Angus McDougall.

Banquets and other special dinners are a regular part of a farm family’s life. Associations of farmers with common interests, such as Illinois farmers who breed Berkshire hogs, meet annually or more often to talk over the state of the art. Such meetings provide an opportunity to get away from the farm if only for awhile.

   
Photo by Michelle Bogre.

There’s a lot of pride in farming . . . pride that is fed continuously by competition . . . competition that is mental—getting the most out of the marketplace, out of the animals and machines you work with—and competition that is outright physical.

Long hard work builds up muscles that strain to be tested. Frontier wrestling was part of the tradition. So have been horse races and horse pulling contests. Nowadays tractor pulling contests have been booming in popularity.

In a horse pulling contest, horses are skillfully urged to pull heavily-weighted stone boats or sleds representing plows or heavy wagon loads. Weights are piled on after each effort until the horse finally fails to pull the load.

   
Photo by George Robinson.

Tractors pull against a steadily increasing load that finally stalls the engine or makes the wheels spin uselessly.

   
Photo by Gordon Baer.

During July and August last year there were 34 sanctioned tractor pulls in 10 states and the prize money exceeded $250,000. There were 4,500 members in a national tractor pullers’ association last year, compared with just 150 in 1969.

Farmers with field tractors are still in many of the contests but people with tank engines, airplane engines and even jet engines are pulling in the contests too. There are three main classes for tractors: farm stock, superstock and modified, with further categories according to weight.

   
Photo by Gordon Baer.

Farmers will fine tune their engines, perhaps even make some other adjustments in their farm shops, then put on tires that are about half worn out and adjust the hitch to the best advantage before heading for the contest. The idea is to apply the most horsepower in the lightest machine that can provide adequate traction.

   
Photo by Gordon Baer.

The Hulett (Wyoming) Roping Club’s annual steak fry attracts more than 1,000 people from Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. They turn out for good food and hearty fun—which includes a rodeo. J. D. Proctor lost his hat and is about to lose his seat on the back of a bull.

   
Photo by John White.

The Missouri State High School Rodeo Clinic, in Greencastle, offers bronco-busting, bull riding and calf roping. They refer to it as the three R’s of high school rodeo: ridin’, . . .

   
Photo by Duane Dailey.

. . . ropin’, . . .

   
Photo by Duane Dailey.

. . . and rubbin’ alcohol. Missouri has had High School Rodeo for 20 years, but this clinic, with rodeo professionals as instructors, was new last year.

   
Photo by Duane Dailey.

Livestock breeders like to compare their best animals with the best animals of other breeders. The ultimate test is in the records—the quality and quantity of progeny—but breed shows that compare individual animals in terms of the latest desirable characteristics have strongly influenced the continuing improvement of breeds.

Breeders are always trying to upgrade their stock animals. They attend show after show, exhibit after exhibit, in hopes of finding a better animal to buy. Or, there may be an opportunity to sell some animals to other breeders.

Berkshire hog breeders have been organized in the U.S. since 1875. Shows and sales at the centennial conference of the American Berkshire Association in Springfield, Illinois drew the same intense interest as in past years.

   
Photo by Michelle Bogre.

Sam Shuey is proud that he has taken care of his animal for months. Now he’s going to prove how good he is at it—at the Ohio State Fair. Like thousands of other youngsters in 4-H and Future Farmers of America programs, he’s learned a lot about farming while raising his animal . . . learned a lot about life, such as responsibility. Now it all boils down in the show ring. Both Sam and his animal are ready.

   
Photo by Gordon Baer.

You have to get up early in the morning if you plan to stick with 6-year-old Heidi Evans when she’s showing sheep at the Ohio State Fair.

   
Photo by Gordon Baer.

During the day she’ll feed and water her prize lambs . . .

   
Photo by Gordon Baer.
   
Photo by Gordon Baer.

. . .and watch hopefully as they’re judged in the show ring.

   
Photo by Gordon Baer.

The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. DeWitt Evans, of Jamestown, Ohio, Heidi—like her sheep—comes out a winner.

   
Photo by Gordon Baer.

Wendy Morrison leads the high school band through Limon, Colorado, during the Harvest Festival parade. In the Fall, many rural communities hold special events. Limon, Colorado, is typical. Besides the Harvest Festival parade there is a fly-in by the area’s flying farmers and ranchers, a cricket race, a tail-wagging contest among pet dogs, food galore, and a melodrama performed inside a large farm storage structure.

   
Photo by John White.

Indian boys join with adults during the Harvest Dance, a variation of a corn dance. “A dance is a prayer, and this dance is a prayer of thanks for a good harvest,” they explain. Ceremonies take place at San Ildefonso, New Mexico.

   
Photo by John Running.

Like so many small towns in rural America, the heartbeat of Norborne, Missouri is its farm trade. The community observed the Bicentennial with a special flag ceremony, as the high school band played and the Lutheran Church choir sang. Officials who spoke included a congressman and the state’s lieutenant governor.

   
Photo by Michelle Bogre.

The tune is familiar. Grandma used to sing it softly while she rocked in her chair. It was about young lovers and something terrible happening to them. It was hard to imagine Grandma was young . . . even in love . . . maybe silly sometimes.

The man with the fiddle, Carl Sorensen, knows the tune. He remembers. The folks in Limon, Colorado remember, too . . . and tap their toes.

   
Photo by John White.

Any good reason will do for a little fun. The annual Hobo Dance of the B-Lo-C (Below Sea) square dance club is held on April 15, to “commemorate” the date when taxes must be paid. Event is staged in El Centro, California.

   
Photo by Charles O’Rear.
   
Photo by Charles O’Rear.

The Jackson Grange Fair, in Jackson, Maine, includes two events that farm kids and grown-ups never seem to tire of: apple-dunking . . .

   
Photo by George Robinson.

. . . and horseshoes.

   
Photo by George Robinson.

The women’s sack race is just part of the fun at the Fall Festival in Clio, Iowa. Such small town events are often
called “homecomings.” There’s a parade, tractor pull, bubblegum blowing contest, horseshoes, and foot races. First place in all events at Clio is a “crisp, new dollar bill.”

   
Photo by Duane Dailey.

It was predictable that the second annual Piedmont Market Hog and Trade Show in Farmville, Virginia would include a greased pig contest and ham raffle in the afternoon. At lunch, the Virginia Porkettes had offered pork burgers and sausage sandwiches while supper was to feature pork barbecue.

   
Photo by Murray Lemmon.

Hard work can take you a long way. The Mills County (Iowa) 4-H Club ran the refreshment stand at the county fair, held bake sales, and conducted other money-making ventures so the club would have enough cash for a week-long trip to Washington, D.C.

   
Photo by Angus McDougall.

In the nation’s capital, the 4-H youth and their sponsors toured the city . . .

   
Photo by Linda Bartlett.

. . . and saw the sights, . . .

   
Photo by Linda Bartlett.

. . . and posed on the Capitol steps for a photograph with their congressman. Much like the thousands of other farm people who visit Washington annually, the young Iowans were thrilled with what they saw, but “it was good to get back home.”

   
Photo by Linda Bartlett.

Queen contests are held in every section of the country, and in most instances honor a certain commodity or product raised by farmers and ranchers in that area. The queen contest is often the highlight of a special event.

   
Photo by Charles O’Rear.

In Crowley, Louisiana the commodity was rice and the queen was Patricia Ann Cran, flanked by Sally Wilson, and Glenda Davis, runners-up.

   
Photo by Roland Freeman.

In Imperial County, California Paula McConnell reigned as queen of the annual Farm Bureau picnic.

   
Photo by Charles O’Rear.

Something about antique farm machinery fascinates young and old alike. Old thresher reunions attract bigger crowds than ever before, and these colossal steam-driven engines recall a time when agriculture was just beginning to flex its muscles.

   
Photo by Fred Witte.

Today tractors half the size do ten times the work, but they don’t hold the romance of the old-time machines. Maybe someday they will, as they, too, become antiques.

Rural Americans celebrated the nation’s Bicentennial in a thousand different ways. In Roseberry, Idaho, Mrs. Ted Burgess lit the candle on the “Happy Birthday, U.S.A.” cake, . . .

   
Photo by Nicholas deVore.

. . . and joined others of the community who caught the spirit with covered wagon rides and clothing of yesteryear, at their annual Bean Bake.

   
Photo by Nicholas deVore.

Patriotism is a serious thing for rural Americans, who love and respect their nation’s flag and what it represents.
Their ancestors hacked a nation out of a wilderness. In this flag ceremony in Hulett, Wyoming, the town’s youngest citizen, Will Mahoney, and its oldest citizen, Mrs. Della Grant, presented the Stars and Stripes.

   
Photo by John White.

Farmers and ranchers still work hard and put in long hours even though they have modern machinery. Perhaps that’s why they enjoy their local community get-together so much, or the state fair. The midway with its gaudy lights and whirling rides offers thrills for the young and memories for the old.

   
Photo by Michelle Bogre.
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