Lunch in the Elk Lake High School cafeteria is a social highlight for many of those attending or participating in Susquehanna County Ag Day each year. For the second year in a row, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation will cover the cost of the meal.
Photos by Rick Hiduk
Susquehanna Ag Day 2020 will be held on Friday, March 6 at Elk Lake High School in Springville, from 10 am to 3:30 pm. The event that began as Dairy Day has been expanded in recent years to cover a myriad of agriculture topics and draws hundreds of guests to the school when Mother Nature cooperates. Once again this year, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation is picking up the tab for lunch for all vendors and guests.
This will mark the 31st year for the event, which is largely a collaboration between the Penn State Cooperative Extension, Susquehanna County 4-H, and the Susquehanna County Dairy Promotion program. The involvement of youths and the strong educational component brought by the organizers have become hallmarks of Ag Day. Dairy royalty serve up ice cream, cheese, and cartons of milk, and the 4-H youths submit more entries to the pie contest and auction each year.
An additional 75 or more vendors showcasing elements of industries related both directly and indirectly to farming, forestry and other land uses, as well as government entities like the Pennsylvania Game Commission fill the gymnasium of the school. Non-profit organizations and local healthcare providers line the hallway to the cafeteria. The classrooms are brimming with displays and free ag-related workshops for children and adults.
This year’s workshops, presented by Penn State educators, Master Gardeners and other experts will cover seed starting, agronomical updates and pesticide credits, raising sheep and goats, risk management planning, Pennsylvania’s solar future, planting for pollinators, stress management for farmers, water resource management, right-sizing your dairy stock, basic food preservation, entomology, shale property owner updates, modern pig production, soil testing, and the evasive spotted lanternfly.
“Farmers are diversifying what they have to offer, and the evolution of Ag Day reflects that,” said Penn State Extension educator Linda Falcone. Current statistics indicate an increased interest in the region in raising pigs, she noted as an example, so a swine expert will be among the presenters.
Also new this year will be an Ag Producer Market. The Penn State Cooperative Extension is inviting local agricultural producers to sell goods made with locally sourced products. Interested vendors can contact Falcone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happening near the end of winter and just before the planting season, Ag Day is anticipated by many local residents as a day to get out of the house and gather with like-minded folks. “It has become a great social event,” Falcone remarked. “It’s a good day to catch up with what’s going on across the county.”
And one of the best ways to “catch up,” she noted, is over lunch in the school’s cafeteria. Prior to 2019, a nominal fee was charged for the meal. A snow storm in 2018 limited attendance, Falcone recalled, but the number of those eating lunch increased from about 650 in 2017 to more than 800 in 2019. Lunch time will be extended this year in anticipation of a further increase in participation.
“Cabot has helped us to expand the scope of the event and increase awareness,” Falcone said of the natural gas company’s generosity, which is a natural extension of Cabot’s ongoing involvement with Ag Day and strong relationships with landowners.
“Cabot is honored to support Susquehanna County Ag Day. The bond between agriculture and energy is tight,” said Cabot director of external affairs George Stark. “From the personal level of working with local farmers to the technical front to working with fertilizers, the interaction between our fields is one of reliability. We look forward to a bright future working together for years to come.”
Registration for lunch is strongly recommended by calling 877-345-0691 by Wednesday, March 4.