By Elsa Kerschner
(This article is excerpted from one that appeared in the March 18, 2004,
issue of Northwestern Press and is used by permission.)
More than 800 farmers from Lehigh, Northampton, Berks and Schuylkill
counties and other farm family supporters attended a Farm Family Appreciation
Celebration held at the Hamburg Field House on March 13.
The night, which offered free roast beef and chicken dinners for farmers,
also welcomed some 226 other guests who had paid a small fee to give
their thanks and support to the farmers. A hoedown with music by Lynn
Eckert and the Outlaws followed.
The Farm Family night out is sponsored by Diakon, the Lutheran Home at
Topton, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Ziegels Lutheran Church,
and the Lehigh-Northampton and Berks County Pomona granges.
The celebration for farm families began five years ago following a devastating
drought. It has been held four of the last five years. It is a true family
event, with all ages represented from babes in arms to grandparents and
The Rev. Gene Handwerk, associate of the bishop, says he thinks the evening
is a wonderful coming together of people who really care about farming.
Too often farmers are taken for granted, he said.
He recalled that when he was growing up, farming was considered a noble
profession for people who were proud of their ability to raise high-quality
food and they still want to do their share to make the world a better
place. Now it seems some people think the bottle of milk in the supermarket
comes from a machine and never think of the hard work that goes into
He said that farmers come to the appreciation celebration and feel that,
at least for one night, they are appreciated.
Many of the dinner attendees expressed the same sentiment, saying they
really enjoyed the night out, whether they were there for the first time
or had attended all four celebrations.
Lynn Eckert and The Outlaws provided the music for the hoedown. The Schnecksville
Grange supplied the flowers. Chocolate coin candies came from Palmer
Candy in Reading, and Johanna Adams provided a favor for each place setting.
Big John’s Catering provided the meal, with leftover food packaged
in meal-size portions that could be taken home by attendees.
Master of ceremonies, the Rev. Thomas Reinsel, who represented Diakon,
said residents should try to “buy Pennsylvania.”
“If we don’t take care of the small farm family and buy from them,
they may disappear.”