You could see it in their faces. You could feel it with one look at the shirts that donned their family farm names. You could tell by listening to the stories they shared in the Century and Sesquicentennial Farm breakfast at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Farm families are proud of their long history, and hundreds of them showed up at State Fair to celebrate their farm heritage.
The event was sponsored by Hillshire Farm, longtime sponsor of the program, and Badgerland Financial, a part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, which is celebrating 100 years of service to farmers.
Farm families were greeted by Jayme Buttke, executive secretary/treasurer of the Wisconsin Association of Fairs.
Also welcoming the families was Interim CEO of the Wisconsin State Fair Kathleen O’Leary.
“We are here to celebrate the fabric of the state of Wisconsin and honor those families who have come so far,” O'Leary said.
John Yingling, chairman of the State Fair Park Board of Directors, introduced the board and also commended the families for their longtime dedication.
Alice in Dairyland Ann O’Leary recognized the importance of these family farms and said they are responsible for Wisconsin’s ability to ship Wisconsin products to 144 countries in the world.
“Carrying these farms from generation to generation is what makes Wisconsin agriculture so strong,” she said.
Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Gloria Kesler, echoed her comments and pointed out that these families are the ones who inspire songs like Rodney Adkins “Farmer's Daughter.” As a farmer’s daughter, Kesler described her family farm and the challenges they face being located next to a rapidly developing area near Appleton.
She said her family farm's land that is surrounded by industry, highways and subdivisions, and they literally farm land that has three roundabouts in the middle of it.
As for the fair, she pointed out that there are really three industries represented at the fair: entertainment, food and agriculture.
Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Ben Brancel told the families, “We are really celebrating your entire family history.”
He identified with the several generations of farmers present at the event, recognizing the pride they feel when the farm is passed on to the next generation.
“My son used to farm with me," Brancel said. "He doesn’t any longer. Now I farm with him.”
Pointing to the important job farmers have to feed the world, he described visits by dignitaries from many other countries, including South Africa, and said these countries are worried about food security. They recognize the U.S. produces an abundance of food and that it is safe. In many countries of the world, that is not the case. Instead, they are concerned about their ability to feed their people in the future.
“Every farmer I know takes a lot of pride in knowing he produces food for someone else,” he said.
Brancel pointed out that because of technology and a farmer’s hard work, a farmer is now able to produce enough to feed 182 other people.
At the conclusion of the program, State Representative and State Fair Board member Keith Ripp and Jayme Buttke introduced the farm families honored at the event.
Farm families from 42 farms were recognized for being in agriculture in the state for more than 150 years. Another 107 farm families were honored for having their farms in agriculture in Wisconsin for more than 100 years. They join 9,101 other farm families celebrating 100 years or more on the farm and 743 farm families celebrating 150 years or more.
Century Farm Honorees include Adams County, Eric Frank, Oxford; Ashland County, Bonitz Holsteins, Mellen; Barron County, JoAnne and Gary Crowe, Crow Bar Ranch, Barron; Sharon and Fred Jerome, Barron; Krista and Brent Knutson, Cumberland; Marjorie and Richard Pederson, Wintergreen Farm, Cumberland; and David Wille, Rice Lake. Brown County, Gabriel Hylok, L & S Land LLC, Suamico; Burnett County, Claire and Joel Johnson, Grantsburg; Buffalo County, Kay and Casey Miller, OM Farms, Alma; Carrie and Bradley Reuter, Reuter Dairy, Arcadia; Penny and Steven Schultz, Mondovi; Calumet County, Richard Buechel Family, Chilton; Sara and Tim Krueger, Brillion; Kelly and Mark Lemke, Chilton and Doug and Scott Ott, Brillion; Chippewa County, Rebecca and Travis Lueck, Bloomer; Charles Seibel, Seibel’s Organic Dairy, Bloomer; Columbia County, Carroll Peeper, Columbus; Betty and Marvin Plenty, Poynette; Margo and Barry Pufahl, Pardeeville; Shari, Terry and Randy Waterworth, Waterworth Farms, Randolph; James Elsa Yohn, Fall River. Dane County, Endres Berryridge Farms, Waunakee; Karen Brink, Verona. Dodge County, Darci and David Biel, Fall River; Tony Ebert, Beaver Dam; Gregory Machkovech, Beaver Dam; Robert Miller, Fall River; Eleanore and Melvin Pankow, Iron Ridge; Bernadette and Henry Pigeon, Linda and Patrick Hodgkins, Randolph; Mary and Carl Jr. Reible, Mayville; Waldemar Schliewe, Watertown; Nicole and Corey Welch, Beaver Dam. Door County Laten Foth, Sturgeon Bay. Dunn County, Rosemary and Dale Lausted, Colfax; Eau Claire County, Linda and David Acker, Stanley; Grant County Andrea and Mark McMahon, Lancaster; Green County Barbara and Jeffrey Bidlingmaier, Browntown; Heidi and Stephen Digman, Monroe, Joel Nall, Argyle, and Maria and David Wald, Monroe. Iowa County Hoch-Niedrig Farm, Arena; Jackson County Paul and Judy Olson, Taylor; Leota and Elmer Simonson, Oak Ridge Farm, Black River Falls; Tammy Svoboda and Loren Schleusener, Hixton; Jefferson County Lisa and Mark Groose, Sullivan; Alice and Ernest Wolff, Watertown, James Alexander, Lake Mills; Shirley Schneider, Whitewater; Juneau County, Lucille Jepperson and Donald Mentzel, New Lisbon; Kewaunee County, Aaron Salzsieder, Salzsieder Dairy, Luxemburg; LaCrosse County, Elizabeth, Brian, Paulette and Fred Hundt, LaCrosse; Audrey and Randall Garbers, West Salem; Sharon and Carl Holte, Coon Valley, Darla and Patrick Lucey, Rockland, Kay and David Pfaff, Mindoro; Lafayette County, Penny and Gary Debuhr, Sunny View Farm, Belmont; Daniel Holland, Gratiot; Langlade County, Charles Wild, Wild’s Dairy Farm, Antigo; Marathon County, Karen and Joseph Kudla, Mosinee; Manitowoc County, Judy and Mark Rahmlow, Mishicot; Marinette County, Myron Nasgovitz, Coleman; Monica and Jeremy Schwittay, Schwittay Farms, Peshtigo; Monroe County, Donna and Donald Justin, Sparta; Annette and Steven Trescher, Cashton; Steven Zirk, Kendall; Oconto County, Riewe Farms, Oconto; Outagamie, Larry Bentle, Appleton, Roger Knapp, Knapp Tree Farm, New London; Carol and Wayne Morack, New London. Pepin County, Mitchell Stein Farms, Pepin; Pierce County, Bruce Anderson, Plum City, Donna and Eugene Andrle, River Falls; Lorice Knutson, Knutson Family Farms, Beldenville; Polk County, Jane and Arnold Carlson, St. Croix Falls; Portage County, Lisa and Lary Adams, Stevens Point; William and Ralph Miller, Custer; Price County, Gloria and Wilbert Nelson, Ogema; Racine County, Kay and Richard Scott, Franksville; Richland County, Schweiger Farms, Hillsboro; Betty and Earl Wallace, Hillsboro; Rock County, Gordon and John Hill, Frosty View Farms, Janesville; Friedo Ludwig Hillmann, Milton; Sauk County, William Cummings, Baraboo; Ellen and Reid Patterson Family, Sauk City; Connie Schultz, Kathy Schultz, Bonnie Larson, Schultz Family, North Freedom; Sawyer County, Laura and Chris Gregory, Meadow View Farm, Stone Lake; Sheboygan County Ronda and Joel Goetsch, Random Lake; Francis and Earl Halbach, Elkhart Lake; St. Croix County, Alice and John Hanson, Hanson Family Trust, River Falls; Holman Family Dairy Farm, Baldwin. Trempealeau County, Baardseth Family Farm, Ettrick; Amy and Derrick Hammer, Galesville; Judith and Charles Hoff, Ettrick; Helen and Lloyd Schultz, Arcadia; Thomas Wik, Altoona. Vernon County, Victoria and Craig Dunnum, Westby; Margaret and Cedric Veum, Westby; Washington County, Curtis Becker, Beckerdale Farm, Hartford; Ann and Gordon Gilbert, Jackson; Lee Krueger, West Bend and Marilyn and Carl Schmidt, Jackson; Winnebago County, Jessica and Michael Bradley, Oshkosh and James Buehner, Oshkosh.
2016 Sesquicentennial farm families include Buffalo County, Carrie and Bradley Reuter, Arcadia; Calumet County Richard Buechel and Family, Chilton; Nancy and James Stanelle, Brillion; Chippewa County, Karoline and George Yeager, Boyd; Columbia County, Margaret Veum, Emily Nielsen, Andrew and Joe Currie, Lodi; Betty and Marvin Plenty, Poynette. Crawford County, Lola and Ronald Olson, Soldiers Grove; Lorrie and Todd Olson, Soldiers Grove; Dodge County, Cathie and Howard Bohl, Bohl Farms, Beaver Dam; Hammer and Kavazanjean Farms, Beaver Dam; Bernadette and Henry Pigeon, Linda and Patrick Hodgkins, Randolph; Mary and Carl Jr. Reible, Mayville; Nicole and Corey Welch, Beaver Dam. Dunn County, Kelly and Michael Nelson, New Auburn; Eau Claire County, Dyan and Donald Steinke, Osseo; Fond du Lac County Linda Struye, Malone; Green County, Margaret and Lyle Baumgartner, Monroe; Linda and Russell Block, Monroe; Donna and David Brown, Monroe; Jefferson County, Lisa and Mark Groose, Sullivan; La Crosse County, Sharon and Carl Holte, Coon Valley, Gerald Storandt, Mindoro; Manitowoc County, Richard Driscoll, Hill Lane Dairy, Newton; Kim and Steve Fischer, Manitowoc; Habeck Homestead Farms, Maribel; Paul Hahn, Reedsville; Sandra and Michael Siehr, Mishicot; John Thompson, Valders; Sandra and Dennis Voss, Cleveland; Joseph Welch, Reedsville; Ozaukee County, Keith Luft, Fredonia; Barbara and Aloysius Weyker, Belgium; Pepin County, Connie Anderson, Stockholm; Portage County, William and Ralph Miller, Custer; Rock County, Kathleen and Ronald Woodman, Janesville; Sauk County Dorothy and Gilbert Schroeder, North Freedom; St. Croix County, Alice and John Hanson Family Trust, River Falls; Trempeauleau County, Sheryl and Tim Byom, Ettrick; Washington County, Deanna and Roger Schmidt, West Bend; Lori and Tom Schoofs, Kewaskum; Waupaca County Diane and Dennis Gorges, New London and Winnebago County, Carla Kuhrt, Brenda Thums and Erma Bradley, Pickett.