North-central counties readying local history events
By Jeremy C. Nagel
Right at the start of the big spring thaw, I visited a few counties just before the winter meeting season wrapped up. In the months to come I’m looking forward to more road time spent assisting county Farm Bureaus’ Local History Teams as their plans take shape.
My first stop was Falmouth, where members of Missaukee County Farm Bureau’s Local History Team met to discuss details of their April 23 event at the BARN (Born Again Raised New) event facility.
Attendees that day will enjoy a catered meal amid displays of historic memorabilia and artifacts documenting the region’s farm legacy.
Organizers are planning a pre-event media blitz, with articles and photos of members sharing their Farm Bureau stories and how their involvement helped them build relationships across the region, state and nation.
To that end, Cadillac News Reporter Bryce Airgoodwas present to meet Missaukee’ key players and familiarize herself with their plans.
“We’re doing personal contacts instead of emails or calling people on the phone,” said Ellen Vanderwal. “We’re seeing a lot of people in their 70s and 80s, and when they’re gone we’re gonna lose all that history.”
Missaukee’s Local History Team is also reaching out to Community Action Group members, hoping to mine their deep memories to enrich what they have planned next month.
In Reed City I met Tom Burnosky at one of his regular haunts, the Reed City Area District Library, where he serves as director. As the bond between the county Farm Bureau and a vital public information center, Burnosky embodies the close relations between Osceola’s farm and non-farm communities.
That will lead to agricultural exhibits this year in the Reed City, Evart and Leroy libraries. Burnosky’s begun collecting digital resources for patrons to peruse, and solicited historical documents from the private collections of members across the county.
His team has also launching an oral history campaign with an initial batch of 10 member interviews, starting with the county’s two remaining community groups, Up and Doing (Evart) and Chat ‘n’ Chew (Reed City.)
The next day I headed to West Branch, where Ogemaw County’s Local History Team was meeting at the county Farm Bureau office.
Like Missaukee, Ogemaw is also looking for media coverage, so representatives of two local papers—competitors any other day—were both present to contribute thoughts and pledge services in the name of supporting local agriculture.
Ogemaw’s focus is on August, home of two other farm-friendly events: a rodeo in downtown West Branch and the county fair shortly thereafter.
The county Farm Bureau is tapping its close relationship with area schools and the chamber of commerce to (a) launch a farm art contest in area schools and (b) display the resulting masterpieces in storefront windows throughout downtown West Branch.
Lastly—to make things official—Super Volunteer Peggy Zettle is proposing the county commissioners adopt a resolution declaring August to be Ogemaw County Agriculture Month.