A community reunion: 2019 Farmers Day takes on heat for annual festival

Published 12:10 am Sunday, July 21, 2019

By Liz Moomey

CHINA GROVE — Farmers Day has a tradition: it’s always hot.

This Saturday’s festival was no different as meteorologist warned of a heat index up to 105 degrees.

Vetra Culp, of Rockwell, said she was initially hesitant about attending this year due to the heat, but was glad she attended.

She ate a barbecue sandwich as she watched a band with her husband. Culp also watched the Little Mr. and Miss Farmer Contest, picked up a couple freebies from the various booths and talked to other attendees. Culp said she enjoys being a part of the fellowship that comes with Farmers Day.

“It doesn’t cost,” Culp said. “That’s a big plus. It’s free. Just come on out.”

Attendee Joyce Deal came with her friends, Brenda Richards and Mike Lanning. And Deal found relief from the heat on a bench in the shade. She joked that she comes every year because she’s a glutton for punishment. And she continues to come to Farmers Day to see people they generally don’t get to see.

“We don’t get out on the front porch like we used to,” Deal said.

The friendliness of the festival keeps her coming back, too, Deal said, as she invited a passerby to join her on the bench to take a break from the hot summer day.

Heat or not, China Grove’s Famers Day is a tradition for many — one that parents pass down to their kids and those kids pass it down to their own children. Some have returned every year since it first started in 1982.

Nathan Eagle came to Farmers Day on Saturday with his wife Kasi and their two children, Abram and Amalie. Nathan first came to the festival in 1985, starting a tradition with his father. And the last time Nathan saw his father was at Farmers Day several years ago, shortly before he passed away.

Coming from Charlotte, the family saw the firetrucks and tractors and got an ice cream treat along with a barbecue sandwich.

“We still get to make this a tradition,” Nathan Eagle said.

Nathan Eagle grew up in China Grove, and he said returning year after year gives him the opportunity to see old friends from high school and church.

China Grove Mayor Lee Withers  on Saturday called Farmers Day a community and family reunion.

Like many others, Withers said, he has only missed one or two Farmers Days over the years. It’s a festival that allows attendees to step back and see his elementary school teacher or a person he graduated with. When his children were younger, they thought Farmers Day was a holiday, Withers said.

“At the end of the day, it’s our own holiday,” Withers said.

And when he goes to Farmers Day, Withers said he has a specific agenda, which includes getting apple pie from Lutheran Chapel Church, eating ice cream from South Rowan High School FFA and entering a raffle for a car.

Meanwhile, attendee Mike Hinson helped his two children, Will and Sarah Grace, construct a zucchini car at the Grace City Church to race later. Mike also came as a child.

The festival was something he looked forward to during the summer to reconnect with friends during the school break, Hinson said. He now enjoys bringing his kids.