SIKESTON - Farming has changed considerably in the past three decades, but not the need to recognized those in agriculture.
This year's Farmers Banquet, set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 20, at the RaudMont Inn (formerly Ramada Inn), will recognize four farm families from the Bootheel along with others who make their livelihood in farming or agribusiness.
"The Farmers Banquet seeks to recognize those who have endured despite the whims of changing weather conditions, trying economic times and a movement from manual labor to mechanization," said Ken Williams, a long-time member of the banquet committee. "Much of what these people have accomplished has been with little government recognition of the good they have achieved in serving as stewards of our land, providers of jobs, risk takers and often the prime movers behind new ideas for the agriculture industry and improvements in producing food and fiber for our state of Missouri."
From Mississippi County, Donnie and Christi DeLine of Charleston will be recognized during the banquet while the New Madrid County honorees will be J.W. and Debbie Minehart of New Madrid. Selected from Scott County was Tony Johnson of Vanduser and Stoddard County Fleeman Farm's Harold, Mark and Phillip Fleeman of Puxico will be recognized.
Chad Crow, chairman of this year's Farmers Banquet, noted while each year as new families are honored the pool of potential honorees decreases, this year's honorees are "some of the best farmers around. They are well-respected in the community and come from a long history in agriculture. We couldn't have chosen any better."
In his fourth year of being affiliated with the Farmers Banquet, Crow described his favorite part of the evening as the films created by Sikeston High School students on the recipients. The short presentations detail each family's farm history and their farm operations.
In addition to recognizing the farm families, the Chamber will name a Farm Woman of the Year and the Agri-Businessman of the Year. Also the Sikeston Jaycees will present the Outstanding Young Farmer Award for 2003.
Cargill AgHorizons Diverse Marketing Strategy Award will be presented for a second year by the local company. The award is designed to honor a farmer who uses risk management solutions as a key part of a marketing plan.
Overall, Crow added the entire evening marks agriculture's role in Southeast Missouri. "It is important to recognize what has made our community what it is today," he said. "And to recognize farmers for the hard work that they do every year - putting food on our tables and clothes on our back. Too often we as a society take for granted the hard work that goes into a farming operation."
Another benefit, Crow said, is the opportunity to learn more about each other as area business people and farmers gather for the evening's activities. "Every year I go away having learned something new," he said.
And some of those attending will also walk away with a prize. The evening will include an auction conducted by auctioneer Mike McReynolds, a raffle of a toy tractor and door prizes.
Along with the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce, sponsors of the Farmer's Banquet are the Rotary, Kiwanis, Jaycees, the Sikeston Career and Technology Center and the Sikeston FFA Chapter.
Crow said it takes many committee members and sponsors each year to put on the event. "All the help is greatly appreciated. Sometimes there is a heavy workload but it is well-worth the benefits of seeing people get the just recognition they deserve."
Advanced tickets can be purchased from the Farm Credit Association, local banks, Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce and the following members of the Farmers Banquet Committee: Bill Aslin, Jerry Aufdenberg, Steve Baehr, Ed Barnhill, Donnie Beggs, Mike Bollinger, Louis Burge, Dawn Collier, Chad Crow, Doris Eftink, Cindy Farrenburg, Cindy Faulkner, Anna Ferrell, David Guehtle, Don Hastings, Jeff House, Dan Jennings, Tom Jennings, John Klueppel, Jonathan Maloyed, Dan Marshall, Mike Marshall, Chris Matthews, Tom Mock, David Murray, Peter Myers, Lincoln Scherer, David Reinbott, Hugh Robinson, Sandy Sitzes, Rick Smelser, Jeff Sutton, Priscilla Turner, John Wesemann, Gary Wheeler, Terry Williams and Krissi Crum. The tickets can also be purchased by calling Ken Walters, ticket chairman, at 471-0511, Ken Williams at 620-6800 or the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce at 471-2498.