'Downtown on the Farm' Concept Comes to Life in Bedford

9/22/2012 7:00 AM
By Linda Williams Southwestern Pa. Correspondent

BEDFORD, Pa. — It was a gorgeous late summer evening when a first-time event, known as “Downtown on the Farm,” was held in Bedford, Pa. The event was organized by the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Bedford Grange Mutual Insurance.

The family-friendly event took place on Thursday, Sept. 13, and helped to demonstrate to the local community the importance of agriculture and agriculture-related businesses to the economy of the area.

Overall, the attendees, estimated at several hundred, enjoying an evening of pleasant weather, conversation, music, food, farm produce and getting to see a few live animals.

An assortment of local farmers and others involved in agriculture set up booths and activity areas to interact with the public.

Farmers Craig and Amy Rose of Gravity Hill, Pa., said they came at the last minute to set up a booth, but were happy they did. Their 2-1/2-acre produce farm did well this year even considering a dry end to summer.

“We do have irrigation and that helps,” Craig said. The Rose Family Farm also has 2-1/2 acres of sweet corn. It keeps the whole family busy including their four kids, ages 6, 7, 9 and 10.

Vendor Darlene McCloskey has a Christmas tree farm in Centerville, Pa. During the summer months she raises apples, peaches, cherries, plums and nectarines. They also sell maple syrup, cider, apple butter, pumpkin butter and sweet corn. Her business was in full swing at the downtown festival.

Bonnie Kunkle had a colorful booth with fresh cut flowers, herbs and added plenty of aroma with the herb called sweet Annie. Kunkle also raises capons and was taking orders for Thanksgiving.

Wagon rides were offered throughout the event by Misty Haven Carriage of Davidsville, Pa., a company owned by Ernie Alwine. The carriage business was brisk and adults and children alike waited for a trip about the picturesque town of Bedford.

Farmer Connie Claycomb and daughter, Julie, vegetable vendors from Bedford, had a good array of tomatoes, squash, cabbage and other late season items for sale.

Before the event, the organizers had also notified local 4-H groups and FFA clubs and invited their members to get involved. A number of club members participated in different ways. Some ag businesses chose to simply hand out brochures and ag-related materials, rather than set up a stand or activity.

One talented student, Ben Hall, a senior at Everett High School and a resident of Clearville, Pa., who is a member of the Bedford Vo-Tech FFA Club, offered lassoing lessons at the downtown agriculture festival, teaching folks who might want to learn how to lasso a cow. Hall said he is also a licensed auctioneer.

Elizabeth Williams and Karla Foster, both of Bedford, are part of the Massey Hollow Farm and the Ruff and Tuff 4-H Club. They brought an array of animals downtown for children to enjoy, including a rooster and a large Boer goat. The animals belong to Haley Foster who rescued them from the Bedford Fair.

“Someone was going to eat them,” Haley explained.

She fell in love with both creatures and enjoyed sharing their affections. Other animals at the festival included bunnies to pet and a miniature pony.

The Sunrise Rotary Club sold pulled pork sandwiches, the Lion’s Club had hotdogs, and there was fresh dipped ice cream from Ritchey’s Dairy.

Several 4-H Clubs, FFA Clubs and local businesses offering information on farming. A local bank gave away fresh-baked cookies. There was music at both ends of the closed-off street produced by musicians Scottie and also Revised Additions.

As the evening progressed, children were invited to join in many games. A pie-eating contest topped off this first-time agriculture event.

Stores and restaurants in the historic town stayed open to offer shopping opportunities, pleasing both the customers and the store owners.

Bedford’s Chamber of Commerce is particularly interested in making the community aware of the importance of farming and agriculture. Bedford is a historic town which includes a history of President George Washington visiting the area to quell the Whiskey Rebellion.

The Chamber-sponsored festival also highlighted some of the town’s recent improvements such as iron benches donated by members of the community in honor of, or in memory of, loved ones or organizations.

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