Arkansas Division of Ag Day celebrates land grants
Hundreds of Arkansans took part in a burger-eating, cotton-picking, gospel-singing, mud-running celebration of Division of Agriculture Days at University of Arkansas research stations statewide.
Gov. Mike Beebe proclaimed Oct. 20 as Division of Agriculture Day to mark three anniversaries significant to public education in Arkansas:
--The 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act that opened the way for land grant universities such as the University of Arkansas;
--The 125th anniversary of the Hatch Act, which funded the nation's agricultural experiment stations; and
--The 50th anniversary of the McIntire-Stennis Act, funding forestry research.
The research and Extension stations marked the occasion on Oct. 12, Oct. 20 and Oct. 27, opening their doors to their neighbors with a day of family fun that included cookouts, gospel singers, antique farm equipment, shooting sports, fishing and educational activities.
On a crisp Oct. 27 morning at the Southwest Research and Extension Center in Hope, "We had more than 640 attend," said Vic Ford, station director. "We served 400 hamburgers, 300 hot dogs, 450 fried pies and 400 bags of chips. Hot chocolate and coffee were popular."
In addition to shooting sports and education activities, SWREC hosted a fishing derby and invited clients of Rainbow of Challenges, which serves developmentally disabled, to drop a hook.
Some 300 people took part in the celebration Oct. 20 at the Lonn Mann Cotton Station in Marianna.
"The kids had a ball with face painting, picture taking, and two four-wheeler trains that pulled them around," said Claude Kennedy, station director. "For the adults we had antique tractors and cars."
Kennedy's station offered some unique agricultural fun--pea shelling and cotton picking.
"Don't let me forget pea shelling--the peas were used with the many door prizes given away," Kennedy said. " I was pleasantly surprised the many family pictures made which will be long remembered."
The Rice Research and Extension Center at Stuttgart capitalized on the watery fields that grow its signature crop by holding a mud run--won by a couple of seventh graders. Center Director Chuck Wilson said the two winners earned gift boxes from Riceland and Producers Rice Mill "and a shower from the hose of the fire truck."
At the Rohwer Research Station, Chicot County Extension Staff Chair Gus Wilson said some 250 came out.
"We had a gospel group from the local church and that's what got the crowd," he said. "We had a cake walk, two bounce houses, an antique tractor show and had a horse-driven buggy ride and a little kids' train.
"The weather was beautiful," he said. "It was fun!"
For Don Hubbell, director of the Livestock and Forestry Station at Batesville, the event was a chance for the public to see the station in a different way--not simply as a place for research and classes.
"I did enjoy having the opportunity to let people see the station and see information about what we do, " he said.
The Batesville event included horse-drawn wagons.
"We wore out two teams and wagons giving rides," he said. Other crowd pleasers were the antique tractor show and the food. "We had lots of people ask 'are you going to do this again?"