By Cole Iaquinto
More than 250 attendees visited Bill’s Farm Market near Petoskey June 23 to help celebrate Emmet County’s rich agricultural history. Timed to coincide with Michigan Farm Bureau’s statewide centennial celebration, the event aimed to welcome the public onto a working farm to showcase the history of area agriculture, a consistently strong local industry for more than 100 years.
Upon arrival, many attendees’ initial attentions were drawn to the vintage farm equipment on display—exhibits of old tractors and horse-drawn implements, and old hand tools used for a variety of farm tasks. Modern tractors and equipment stood nearby for comparison.
Demonstrations of chair caning and wool spinning intrigued attendees of all ages, and a local 4-H racing pigeon club released several birds while explaining the importance messenger pigeons have played over time.
Young visitors were particularly captivated by the lambs, rabbits and kittens on site and available for up-close interaction.
Other educational booths featured local Farm Bureau Insurance agents; fire fighters; recycling center personnel; the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program; a writing workshop; MSU Extension; a Michigan Farm Bureau centennial video; and information about membership in the Emmet County Farm Bureau.
Inside Bill’s Market was an expansive exhibit of photographs and articles. For comparison these were paired alongside historic Petoskey photos, on-farm pictures and an exhibit of current commodity and census facts shedding light on today’s Emmet County.
Families enjoyed snacks, visiting with old friends and meeting new ones. Tractor hayrides ran throughout the event, with farm owner Bill McMaster narrating a guided tour of the many varieties of fruits and vegetables he raises.
A host of smiling volunteers from across the county Farm Bureau membership included board members, friends and family members, all working many hours to ensure the event’s success.
Membership Chair Ben Blaho initiated planning the event more than six months ago, assisted by the board of directors.
“To some this was a kind of Farm Bureau reunion, seeing old friends,” Blaho said. “For others it was their first time ever visiting a farm.
“We strove to highlight the ‘good ol’ days and the foundation agriculture brought to this area, but we also wanted to look at how farms today, rooted in those traditions.”
MFB Regional Representative Cole Iaquinto works with Farm Bureau members across the northern Lower Peninsula in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Otsego and Presque Isle counties.