Farm City Banquet brings optimism

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 16, 2000

to disastrous crop year


Features Editor

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Nov. 15, 2000 10 PM

The year 2000 was one of the worst in history for Pike County farmers. Drought conditions throughout the spring and summer affected every phase of farming from corn, cotton and peanuts to cattle and poultry to timber.

Conditions were so bad that many farmers were tempted to put their John Deere in the barn and let the tires go flat.

But, most of them reached down into their reserve tank of hope and started planning for better days ahead.

To boost the county’s farmers spirits and to say thank you for keeping on keeping on, a record number of Pike Countians purchased tickets for the annual Farm City Banquet Tuesday night.

"Even though it was a bad year for farmers and, maybe because it was a bad year, people seemed to want to show their support for our agricultural community," said Jenniffer Barner, community development director of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. "We sold 475 tickets for the banquet and that is the most we have ever sold."

The banquet is sponsored annually by the Farm City Committee of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. The program is usually centered around the Farm-City Awards. However, this year, the committee decided not to present awards in the different areas of agriculture.

"It was a devastating year. Everyone was hurt in some way

– some more than others – but no one was completely spared," Barner said. "The committee decided instead of recognizing a few farmers that we should honor them all for their dedication and commitment in good times and, especially, in difficult times. We wanted to say thank you to all of them."

To bring words of encouragement and hope to the farming community and those who depend on it for food and fiber, Dr. George Mathison, pastor of Auburn United Methodist Church, was asked to be the featured speaker.

"Dr. Mathison’s words were encouraging and the Farm City Committee’s hope was that everyone went away with a lighter heart and a better feeling about the days ahead for

farming in Pike County.

Mathison’s words weren’t directed just to farmers. They had meaning for every person in attendance.

Mathison acknowledged that farmers are hurting right now but "this room is filled with people who are hurting."

Mathison said a wise pastor once told him that on every pew in every church on every Sunday, there will be someone who is hurting. He offered four keys to unlock the door of hurting and open it to a world of "sunny living."

The keys, Mathison said, are enthusiasm that is contagious, an attitude that is positive, compassion that is genuine and a faith that is real.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that nothing great is accomplished without enthusiasm.

"Enthusiasm is contagious" Mathison said. "Don’t you like to be around people who are enthusiastic?" No matter whether life is good or bad, life is what you make it. It’s what’s in your head that determines whether you are happy or sad."

Mathison warned that pessimism is contagious, too. A person’s actions affects the actions of others and he encouraged the Farm City audience to think positively about life.

He used Napoleon and Helen Keller to illustrate the difference a positive attitude can make in one’s life.

"Shortly before he died, Napoleon made the statement that he had never known six happy days in his life," Mathison said. "In contrast, Helen Keller said that she never knew life could be so beautiful. It all depends on your mental attitude."

Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are necessary for good mental health but they are not shields from sorrow, hurt and pain.

"No home anywhere is without its hurt," Mathison said, as he encouraged his audience to show compassion and caring for others during difficult times. "Caring is the most important thing in the world."

Through it all, Mathison said one must cling to a faith that is real.

By using the four keys Mathison recommended, the difficult year that farmers have experienced can be viewed with hope and promise of spring and with the faith that "next year will be a better year."