The 61st Annual Farmers Appreciation Fish Fry packed a large crowd into the rodeo arena at Hestand Stadium on Thursday evening to thank the members of the agri-business community for their positive impact on the area’s economy.
Sponsored by the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce, the event honored the Dale Davis family of Trulock Bay and Sherrill as the 2013 Jefferson County Farm Family of the Year.
Dale Davis and his family farm nearly 5,000 acres in northern Jefferson County near Sherrill, with his son Ricky Davis and grandson Corey Davis shouldering the majority of the tasks required to grow and harvest row crops that include corn, soybeans and rice.
Ricky Davis reflected on a successful season that had him guessing as to crop yields throughout the wet spring that delayed planting and the summer months that were ultimately milder than had been feared.
“We got a late start on the planting with the wet, cool spring that we had, but luckily the summer temperatures didn’t get too hot,” Ricky Davis said Thursday evening. “The corn crop was really good; the rice and soybeans were excellent. So the harvest went well except for that 4-inch rain we had in September that delayed things a bit. We had about 60 percent of the harvest in prior to that rain and got back into the fields as soon as we could after the rain to get the rest of the harvest out.”
Corey Davis also had good things to say about the year’s work.
“The wet spring set us back on the rice, but we ended up with great yields on the corn and the soybeans and the rice crop was fair,” Corey Davis said. “We also did pretty good with the 300 acres of purple hull peas. This was the first year for us to grow those, so I’m pretty pleased with the results. My grandfather farmed another 200 acres of purple hull peas. They grow well in the dry weather, and since the plot of land we had them in isn’t irrigated, that worked out well.”
Ann Williams is the director of the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“We sold a total of 775 $15 tickets prior to tonight and we will have a lot of people buy tickets at the door,” Williams said. “King Kat out of Carlisle, Ark. is amazing and we are always glad to have them provide the food for us. We have so many great volunteers who are chamber members serving the food.”
Nancy McNew is the event coordinator for the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber.
“This is all very new to me because this is my first large event with the chamber,” McNew said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without the great Agri-business Committee that we have. They showed me where everything goes and the layout. This event is really important to the chamber because agriculture is a huge deal here in Jefferson County. It provides a lot of income and a lot of jobs. We like to recognize people and thank them for their hard work. Farming is a lot more work than a lot of people think it is.”
Richard Metcalf of Relyance Bank is the chairman of the fish fry.
“The Davis family does an excellent job of farming and they are very representative of good farmers and what agriculture means to Jefferson County and the economy of this area,” Metcalf said. “They are really first-class people and we are happy to have them as our Farm Family of the Year.”