June 11 was a rainy day across the western Upper Peninsula but that didn’t dampen Copper Country Farm Bureau’s enthusiasm at resurrecting one of its marquee outreach events. After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Michigan’s northern- and westernmost Farm Bureau carded a solid ‘win’ with the eighth iteration of Farm on the Town.
Organizers were unsure what affect the two-year break — and change of venue to Sunflower Books and Coffee in Hancock — might have on attendance. But at the end of the day more than 300 area young people and their families stopped by to enjoy some hands-on activities rooted in agriculture.
Through a Young Farm Hands activity they completed a craft project; planted flowers, ‘harvested’ fruits and vegetables, viewed a wool spinning demonstration, observed live honeybees, tasted fresh maple syrup, and met a variety of farm animals up close.
“I think the event was very successful. We were unsure with the new location — and the forecast — if people would come out, but I was very pleased with the overall turnout,” said Susan Mattila, Copper Country's Promotion & Education co-chair alongside Judy Szyszkoski. “Everyone enjoyed participating in the Young Farm Hand’s activity and seeing the animals.”
“This event would not have been possible without the Copper Country Farm Bureau volunteers who organized, set up, and ran the activities,” Mattila said, including local 4-H members who assisted at some of the activity stations; local businesses that donated items towards the youth goody bags; and the local farmers who shared their animals and their knowledge with all who attended.
Helping Mattila bring Farm on the Town back to life were Diane Staricha and Becky and Sharon Lampinen.
“I own the Sunflower Books and Coffee shop in Hancock,” Mattila said, “so when we started talking about having the event again I offered our parking lot and was on the committee with other members who had organized it when it had been in Houghton.”
Beyond those already named, a who’s-who of the Copper Country Farm Bureau turned out to lend a hand, including John and Diane Mattila and their family; Greg Staricha and family; Steve Palosaari and local Farm Bureau Insurance Agent Ryan Okalski.
“I thought it went very well,” said Copper Country President Anthony Lampinen, who also helped out that day. “Even with the rain and the new location it was well attended with people wanting to get out after the pandemic.
“The city officials really liked it too and are excited for us to be back next year.”
Several non-members volunteered and brought animals, including members of the local 4-H chapter and MSUE Tourism & Community Development Educator Will Cronin, who was on hand throughout to answer questions.
Local business sponsors and donors included Erickson Feed, Seed & Pet Supply; Festival Foods; Flowers by Sleeman; Tractor Supply Company; Walmart; Ward’s Husqvarna; WMPL and Tadych’s Marketplace. Kim and Sharon Lampinen donated items for the goody bags, and the Houghton County Fair donated the use of their animal pens.