The Anson County Farm-City Week Dinner kicked off what Robert Ross, chairman of the Brown Creek Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), called "a season of agriculture." Following Tuesday night's dinner, the 4-H Livestock Show was held on Friday and Saturday, with the Anson County Fair on display as part of People Fest on Oct. 10.
The dinner was catered by the Anson County Cattlemen's Association, hosted by Anson County Cooperative Extension and Brown Creek SWCD, and sponsored by Anson County Farm Bureau. Clinton McRae, South Central District director for N.C. Cooperative Extension, praised Anson County, saying, "You really know how to put a banquet together."
Among the several hundred in attendance were N.C. Sen. William Purcell, a representative from U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's office, and Anson County Commissioners Anna Baucom, Jarvis Woodburn and Bobby Sikes.
But the most special guests were the farmers and local businesspeople who support agriculture in the county.
After leading a game of agricultural "Jeopardy!", Anson County Extension director Janine Rywak gave out the first award of the evening, the Outstanding Farmer Award, to Allen Molaro. "During this producer's first encounter with Extension, he spoke loud and clear that he wanted to do things his way," Rywak said. However, when the cattle producer's heifers were grouped with others, his were the smallest. By working with other livestock farmers, he was able to transform his results into some of the best in the county.
"Now, he's open to trying new things and adopts the programs that work for him," Rywak said, adding that he also heavily supports the Cattlemen's Association's scholarship program.
"I don't feel I deserve this award," Molaro said when he accepted the plaque. "There are a lot of farmers out there that work really hard."
Up next was the Outstanding Agri-Business Award, which went to Dr. Danny Wright and Brown Creek Animal Hospital.
Anson County Chamber of Commerce executive director Lynn Edwards announced the award winner, touting Dr. Wright's humble beginnings with just a handful of employees. The practice has now expanded numerous times and serves a number of counties, including Anson.
Ross handed out the award for Anson County Conservation Farm Family of the Year to Milton Baucom and his family. Although the Baucoms live in Union County, Ross said, they have a cattle operation in Anson, as well as a chicken operation in Union.
The 2009 Small Business of the Year Award went to H.W. Little, Inc. hardware store in Wadesboro. Elbert Marshall, secretary of the Anson Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), announced the award, saying "it was a very close vote of 6-0."
H.W. Little has been in business since 1894, in the same location on Greene Street in uptown Wadesboro.
"I've always been impressed by the friendly faces that still greet me after [living here for] 19 years," Marshall said.
Although the patriarch of the business passed away in 2005, his widow Cynthia and daughter Carly have kept the business going and have both been very active in the community.
Carly Little, also president of Uptown Wadesboro, Inc., and vice chair of the Chamber of Commerce board of directors, accepted the award, stating that "we have a lot of fun at the store, especially with its backbone, Donnie Wall, and we look forward to another 100 years of serving."
Corporate Leader of the Year was presented to Coffing Hoists by AEDC chairman Don Scarborough. The company moved to Wadesboro in 1966, Scarborough said, and since then has undergone three expansions, most recently one announced in July that will add 65 new employees.
Bob Stowe, human resources, safety and environmental manager, County Commissioner Jarvis Woodburn and general manager of operations Joe Ombrello accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Others recognized during the banquet included:
• Brown Creek Soil & Water Conservation District Resource Conservation Workshop participant Cody Kiker of Peachland. One student is chosen each year to attend the workshop, held at N.C. State University.
• Anson County Farm Bureau— Brown Creek Soil & Water Conservation District 25-Year Sponsorship Award; and Carolina Farm Credit and Martin Brothers Equipment Company— Brown Creek Soil & Water Conservation District 30-Year Sponsorship Award.
• Daphne Mills, eighth grade science teacher at Anson Middle School, and Lanette Phillips, director of the Rotary Planetarium and Science Center in Wadesboro, who were recognized for competing in the Envirothon competition.
Chris Childers, resource conservationist with Brown Creek SWCD, ended the evening by reiterating the importance of agriculture in Anson County. "Anson County has always been at the forefront of agriculture and today is no different," he said. "It's more important than ever to take stock in our natural resources."