Was this year’s Farmers Day celebration the best ever?
It may have been, according to reports from Jesup Farmers Day, Inc. board members. At the least, it will be “talked about for a very long time,” as Kevin West, Jesup volunteer firefighter, said after the event.
The celebration stretched out from its normal Thursday-Friday-Saturday to include Wednesday evening’s arrival of the 9/11 exhibit in Jesup.
Close to 90 motorcycles plus various emergency service vehicles made up the escort for the 9/11 Mobile Exhibit as it drove the final leg to Jesup, where more than 5,000 people went through the exhibit over the next few days.
The opening ceremony for the exhibit Thursday night was a moving tribute to the emergency services personnel that died on 9/11. Photos and publication of stories and speeches are included throughout this issue. The names of over 400 people were memorialized with signs on the grounds of the Presbyterian Church across the street from where the exhibit was parked.
These names were also carried in a somber procession at the Great Farmers Day Parade Saturday morning. About 380 sign bearers walked near the beginning of the parade led by, and followed by solitary bagpipers playing music, including Amazing Grace, which brought tears to many, if not all who stood in solemn salute to those who passed. Four retired New York City fire fighters were the Parade’s Grand Marshals, joined at the last minute by a young man, whose father died at 9/11, when he was just a baby. This young man carried the sign bearing his father’s name, John Marshall.
The parade lasted about 90 minutes, much longer than the typical hour-long parade at Farmers Day. It may have been the most poignant and memorable of any parade for many who witnessed it.
The parade started about five minutes late, because the four Grand Marshals, who were walking from the 9/11 Exhibit up to school to join the parade, were delayed by the crowds of people expressing their best wishes and gratitude to them. Another unexpected, but not unplanned for event, was a fire call coming in just minutes before the parade.
Bart Vogel found smoldering hay on his farm outside Jesup that morning, and despite knowing the firemen were leading the parade, couldn’t let the fire go. Jesup, Dunkerton and Fairbank firemen raced to the fire, later joined by Hazleton firemen, and kept the damage to a minimum at Vogel’s farm according to Kevin West. Both Dunkerton and Fairbank had vehicles in the parade. Jesup firemen literally ran to the fire station to fetch vehicles for the fire call.
The weather was virtually perfect. Although it was drizzling in Jesup Wednesday during the day, by the time the Escort arrived, the sky had opened up to a brilliant blue. Despite threatening weather in much of Iowa, the thunderstorms missed Jesup and the weather stayed warm and clear through Saturday. Sunday, after much of the celebration take-down had been completed, the rain came again.
Other Farmers Day events proceeded as planned, like clockwork, from the Thursday Children’s Parade and Prince and Princess contest to the final band Saturday night. “I wouldn’t change a thing,” concluded Farmers Day President Alan Wright, who gave credit to Mayor Larry Thompson and the city for stepping up with much additional help this year.
Even Thompson’s welcome at the 9/11 Opening Ceremony was memorable to several board members.
It certainly was a Farmers Day to remember.
After all, the theme was: “Never Forget.”
By Kathryn Koob
It is a pleasure to be with you this afternoon, and an honor to be invited to make a few remarks at this special occasion. I promise, I will be brief.
First I know you all join me in thanking so many people who made this happen. We owe a great deal to the Farmers Day Committee for bringing yet another very special event to our town. We also want to thank the Siller family for having the creative idea of making it possible for those of us who live so far from the Twin Tower site, to have a very real opportunity to remember in such a vivid way the events of 9/11/2001.
And we especially want to thank the Firefighters who accompany this exhibit for taking the time to travel the country telling their story and the story of their colleagues and their families. Welcome, again gentlemen. I know you will experience real Iowa hospitality during your stay here, and never again think of this part of the country as “fly-over” space.
The greatest thanks of all however is reserved for those who sacrificed their lives for all of us. There is no way in which we can adequately thank them or their families and loved ones for what they did for all of us.
Yet, there is a way in which we can acknowledge the work of these heroes, and that is by living our lives in the best possible way. Of being “real Americans:” people who are open, welcoming, supportive, understanding, and productive.
As many of you know, I’ve had the opportunity to live and work and travel in many countries. I am always amazed when people want to know about “real Americans.” Not the ones we see on TV or in films. Not the ones we read about in books and pop magazines, but, as they might say, “The people where you live.”
And believe me that is important. Now, in retirement, I volunteer as a conversation partner with international students who are studying English at UNI so they can pass their exams and become full-time regular students. I met with such a group yesterday. There were three nations represented at my table. We were talking about what each country was like. Early in the conversation, I said, “So, we agree that family life and families are very important in all of our countries.”
“No,” said one. “I don’t believe family life is very important in America.”
“Why not?” someone at the table asked.
“You kick kids out of the house when they are 18, and make them work on their own. In my country we live at home with our family for a very long time. We even have multiple generations living in one home.”
So I got to explain that 18 year olds were not necessarily “kicked out,” but that many were anxious to go out on their own, and that families still were connected generationally, and especially now with the possibility of electronic connections the ties were stronger than ever. Conversation led to a new understanding of our cultural values. It is important for us to listen to others, and inquire as to why they think of us as they do. We are not perfect, but often a perceived imperfection such as this can be understood in a new light.
The American Dream for many parents has been that their children will have a better life than they had. In our culture of plenty, that is difficult to achieve for we all have much, much more than we need to survive, and much of the world lives hand to mouth, often going to bed hungry at night. We can change that, but the better world we must work for is one that, while it does not mean economic deprivation, does mean that it is one that is safer, more comfortable, more accepting, more diverse and more knowledgeable than that in which we grew up.
It is no longer possible for us to hide – even in small town middle America. Our access to information is formidable, and we should use it to increase our understanding of each other – both ways – us of them, and them of us.
In the same conversational group that I spoke of earlier, we also talked about those things which we feared. I mentioned, among other things terrorism. Not surprisingly that was a common fear. One of the participants, a young man from Saudi Arabia mentioned that the people of his country were afraid of ISIS. In his words, “Terrorists disguising themselves as Muslims.” They had recently detonated a bomb in Medina, the second holiest city in Saudi Arabia, the one in which the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed is located. He went on to say, “People who act like this are not Muslims. They are using our religion to carry out their own plans.” It was clearly very important to him for us to understand this. He went on to talk about how Muslims ISIS had killed Muslims. It is important for us to know things like this. There are many more such examples, but I promised to keep this brief!
Freedom is a rallying cry – and it is one of the reasons people put their lives on the line every day to protect it. We want no one to tell us how we should live, and so we also must respect the right of others to live their own lives. One of the ways we protect our own freedom is by learning as much as we can about our sisters and brothers around the world and accepting them as they are. The answers that are right for us might not be the best way to do things in other places. We also must do what we can so others will learn the truth about us, and accept us as we really are. This is a great challenge.
It is not an easy task when we remember events like 9/11. But that event calls us to be the best we can be and in that way make the world a better place for all of us. God Bless the Best of America, and help us to make it even better.
Editor’s Note: Kathryn Koob is a native of Jesup. She was one of 52 Americans held hostage in Iran following the overthrow of the Shah in Iran in 1979. She was held for over 440 days until the hostages were released on Jan. 20, 1981.
It takes over $30,000 to put on the Jesup Farmers Day celebration each summer, according to records of the Farmers Day, Inc. Board of Directors.
Most years, the celebration has returned several thousand dollars in cash flow (income over expenses) to the Farmers Day bank account.
This money is kept on hand as a self-funded insurance policy to make sure all the bills can be paid for the event each year -- even if foul weather or disaster would strike, and all or most of the income expected from the event just wouldn't materialize. So even in the event of a disastrous year, Farmers Day would have enough money to pay its bills and continue on the next year.
Over the last several decades, Farmers Day has also been able to generate funds for a number of important investments in Farmers Day, and in the community.
1. Farmers Day paid for the building of the huge pavilion in the downtown "Land O' Corn" Park, where most of the Farmers Day activities take place.
2. Farmers Day paid for the materials for a storage building near the city's shed on Tenth Street. This storage building is used for Farmers Day materials. (Thanks to Rex Reinhart for providing the labor for this building.)
3. Farmers Day has paid for all or much of many other electrical, concrete and "additions" to the pavilion as needed over the years.
4. Farmers Day funds a scholarship for a Jesup High School senior each year through Dollars for Scholars.
5. Farmers Day has purchased many of the Holiday decorations used in Jesup over the years.
6. Farmers Day has purchased equipment needed to operate the funnel cake stand, investing thousands of dollars over a number of years.
7. Farmers Day paid all the expenses to have the old one-room school house moved to the Jesup School grounds, even moving the rocks from the original foundation into town and replaced them under the school. They also reroofed the old school and put in a new hardwood floor.
8. Farmers Day was in charge of RAGBRAI the year it came through Jesup.
9. Farmers Day made a donation to the Jesup Community School Band program.
10. Farmers Day made a donation to the new All-Weather Track and Football Complex project at Jesup Community School.
11. Farmers Day, in cooperation with the City of Jesup and local organizations, produced the entire Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2010, and the Quasquicentennial Celebration in 1985. Most communities have to fundraise for months to have an historical community celebration.
12. And last, but not least, Farmers Day provides the opportunity for civic and religious organizations to raise funds for a good deal of their annual expenses with their Farmers Day food stands.
However, over the past several years, Farmers Day has seen its largest income stream -- the beer garden -- drop in half.
The beer garden income normally represents 30% or more of the entire celebration's operating budget, enough to pay for all the FREE entertainment each year.
In the last two years, however, that income stream has dropped almost in half, resulting in an actual cash loss for Farmers Day in 2012.
The major income streams for Farmers Day each year are:
• The Beer Garden
• The Carnival, which pays a percentage of its income to Farmers Day
• Local non-profit organizations, which contribute 15% of their sales to Farmers Day;
• The Funnel Cake/Mini Donut Stand, which is operated by Farmers Day;
• The 5K Run
• Miscellaneous income -- which comes from souvenir sales, t-shirts (when available), history books, cook books, etc.
Expenses for Farmers Day include:
• Stage Entertainment.
This is the largest part of the Farmers Day budget each year, taking 30-50% of the income. Admission has always been free to every single Farmers Day entertainment event -- and frequently Farmers Day is the ONLY venue where a person can see these quality entertainers without paying an admission charge.
• Marketing and Advertising.
Farmers Day has successfully promoted this event regionally for many, many years, resulting in huge turnouts for the celebration each year. Less than 10% of the event's income is used for marketing.
• Cost of goods sold.
This is the cost of the beer and other beverages, the mix for the donuts and funnel cakes, beer licenses, t-shirts (when sold) etc.
A major expense for Farmers Day each year is insurance coverage.
There are many miscellaneous expenses each year. Prizes for the parade and domestic arts, printing of flyers, tickets, sign-up sheets, decorations and more.
The Farmers Day board decided to NOT offer t-shirts for sale this year because in recent years very little money, if any, has been made from the t-shirts.
It takes hundreds, maybe even thousands of volunteer hours to make Farmers Day happen.
President Alan Wright, and board members Dawn Quackenbush, Dale Rueber, Peggy Shaffer, Wayne Natvig and Kim Adams put in many volunteer hours planning the event each year. Chairpersons for each of the major events also spent a great deal of time planning, then carrying out these events. They include: Doug Frush for the beer garden; Sarah Curry for the Prince and Princess Contest; Wayne Natvig for the Great Parade; Dawn Quackenbush for the Talent Show; Teri Schares for the Children's Parade; Josh Zuck for the Children's Games; Pat McIntosh and Karen Frost for the Domestic Arts Show; Kyle Troyer and Steve Pedersen for the 5K run; Jerry and Donna Amfahr for the Square Dance; Paul Nagel for the children's Tractor Pull, Dave Sabers for all the seating in the pavilion and Alan Wright for everything else!
Each of the organizations that provides food or entertainment booths also have hundreds of volunteer hours involved. They include: St. Athanasius Bingo and Food Booth, Boy Scout Food Both, Lions Club Brats and Hot Dog stand; Jesup School Lemonade Stand; Friends of Library Popcorn and Ice Cream stand.
Request for Support
"We thank all the thousands of people who have supported Farmers Day over the years," Wright concluded. "We ask for your continued support this year."