ALGOMA - The 64th Farm Technology Days kicked off under blue skies in Kewaunee County Wednesday morning, much to the delight of the Ebert family who have been preparing for the event for the past three years.
“We’ve put in a lot of long days since we got the call three years ago, and like it or not here we are,” Jordan Ebert to the crowd gathered in the Family Living Tent for the opening ceremony. “This show has already changed our lives before it even started. We decided that since we only get to do this once, we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
Jordan, along with his sister, Whitney, and parents, Randy and Renee Ebert and grandparents Henry and Carol Ebert, welcomed the crowd to the three-day event that showcases the latest developments and technology in production agriculture and is held in a different county on a different family farm every year.
This is the first time that Kewaunee County has hosted the show.
Joining the Ebert family was Gov. Scott Walker who applauded the Ebert family and it’s small army of over 1800 volunteers who helped to plan and execute the show.
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“Farming is our heritage but I’m just as excited when I see the stuff today. It’s not just about our past, it’s about our future, and the multiple generations farming here in Wisconsin and about all the advances that you’re going to see here today,” Gov. Walker said. “It’s more than being successful economically because we all know that farming is more than just a job – it’s a way of life.”
And on behalf of the 5.7 million people in the state of Wisconsin, Gov. Walker presents a signed proclamation to the Ebert family declaring July 11-13 as Farm Technology Days throughout Wisconsin.
While only four members of the host family were up on the Family Living stage, the Ebert family was very clear that Britney – Whitney’s twin sister – still remained a big part of their lives and this show.
“Our family starts and ends with Brit. Although her time here was cut short, she touched so many people,” said Jordan. “She’s always with us and amongst us.”
Britney unexpectedly passed away last May at the age of 19. Although she had limitations from her condition known as hydrocephalus, the family recalled her spunky personality.
“Although there’s only two of us up here, she’s with us as well and probably wondering why all of these tents are out here in her backyard,” said Whitney. “Although the days may have been long for Miss Brit, she would have loved the constant rides in the Gator around the grounds.”
To honor her memory, the family named one of the streets in Tent City after Britney and created a display inside the Family Living Tent and a small memory garden outside the tent where the family released dozens of butterflies. As the winged creatures fluttered skyward, Renee Ebert blew a kiss heavenward.
Jordan said that while his parents prefer to work behind the scenes, they stepped outside of their comfort zone to be thrust into the spotlight as hosts of the show.
“They’ve poured everything they had into this show,” Jordan said. “But between the show being done and Brit not here anymore, I think they’re going to have to pick up a couple of hobbies to fill their time.”
Randy Ebert took a moment to thank his parents for their vision of keeping the farm in the family for the seventh generation and helping to shape him into the person he is today.
“These two people raised me on the tenant that you treat others the way you want to be treated. Simple as that,” he said. “Thank you, dad, for letting me make mistakes, as I still believe that’s the best way to learn.”
During the program, hundreds of cartons of milk were distributed to the crowd and were lifted in a toast led by Renee Ebert.
Raising her carton of milk high, Renee said, “Here’s to all of you that came out to share this event with us in Kewaunee County, to my wonderful family, valued employees and committee members who have been with us during this long journey,” she said. “To old friends and new friends we’re about to meet. And like Britney said, ‘Milk does a body good!’ Cheers!!”