MINER - Southeast Missouri's agriculture roots go deep. While in recent years the Bootheel has become more industrialized, those roots are still strong and those who cultivate them will be honored Nov. 15 by area residents.
Some 250 to 300 people will gather for the 31st Annual Farmers Recognition Banquet. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Ramada Inn in Miner.
"The Farmers Banquet is such an important event for our community in recognizing our agriculture heritage," said Missy Marshall, executive director for the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event. "And to be able to recognize in these modern times four successful farm families is a pleasure for the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce."
Bill Aslin, chairman of the Farmers Recognition Banquet Committee, added the annual event is also designed as recognition of the continued importance of agriculture to all of Southeast Missouri.
"It is a way of reminding us of how vital agriculture is to the commerce, industry and in dollars to the entire area. It is an opportunity to stop and honor their efforts," he said.
Aslin said his committee began working in April to organize the annual banquet and praised this year's committee members for their hard work in setting up the event and selecting the honorees.
Highlighting the banquet will be the presentation of farm families honored from Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid and Stoddard counties. This year's honorees are the Seiler families in Scott County, Britton and Anna Ferrell of Mississippi County, Robert and Diane Fowler of New Madrid County and in Stoddard County, George and Helen Cates and Janet and Kevin Johns.
Aslin has high praise for this year's committee selection.
"Certainly these are very excellent families, excellent farmers," said Aslin. "It is just amazing that we have been honoring farm families all these years and you hear how the number of farmers are dwindling but there are still so many excellent farm families working in our area."
As two big screen televisions play a video on each of the honored families and their farm operations, the honorees will be introduced and presented a plaque by the committee.
There are additional award recipients, who until the night of the banquet remain a secret. Again this year the Sikeston Jaycees will honor an area farmer with their Outstanding Young Farmer Award.
The SACC committee will announce the "Farm Woman of the Year." Aslin said the ag committee has narrowed the field of recipients to three applicants with the winner to be a woman who is highly involved in farming in Southeast Missouri.
"Farming any more is certainly a team operation," said Aslin. "Farming is a big business and a lot of women are involved in assisting their husbands, the committee believes it is vitally important that we recognize their efforts," A Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce Agri-Business Service Award will recognize an agribusiness from the four-county area for its contributions.
Even youngsters involved in agriculture are honored during the evening when Cargill Ag-Horizons presents the winners of their annual essay contest. The young winners will read their essays on farm safety to those attending.
Keeping the pace moving throughout the 31st Annual Farmers Recognition Banquet will be this year's master of ceremonies, Bill "Cousin Carl" Anderson.
Also setting the pace for the night will be auctioneers, Jeff Sutton and Jonathan Maloyed, who will direct the bidding during the "fun auction." Proceeds from the auction help fund the annual event.
Tickets for this year's event are $12.50 per person, which includes a buffet dinner. The tickets can be purchased from any members of the Ag Committee, at the Chamber of Commerce office or by calling Ken Walters at Progressive Farm Credit Services at telephone number 471-4059.