Harvest Showcase not about politics
As volunteer members of the Harvest Showcase Committee, we would like to respond to the letter in last week’s paper by Republican chair, Jon Park. In his letter, he questioned why candidates were not allowed to introduce themselves at this year’s Harvest Showcase. He went on to call this “censorship” and blamed our Committee chair (the Judge Executive of Henry County) for the decision, calling it politically motivated.
The Showcase agenda is set by a committee, which consists of a dozen or so committee members who meet throughout the spring to plan the event. Because this year was the 15th anniversary, the committee wanted to plan something special. It was voted unanimously to contract for a Chautauqua performer, Mr. Robert Brock, who portrayed Mark Twain. This performance took place at the noon hour. While it is true that candidate introductions, as well as contests, raffles, and other events have taken place in the past at noon, that was not the schedule for this year’s event.
Fifteen years ago the Showcase was started with two goals in mind: to promote local farmers and craftsmen and to show off Henry County to the region. Through the years we conservatively estimate that over 40,000 people have entered our fairgrounds on Showcase day, at no cost to the visitor. The Showcase has allowed over $10,000 in scholarship money for local students to be raised by the Henry Co. Cattlemen’s Association and the Rotary Club, who sell local beef and local ice cream. More than $40,000 has been donated by private individuals, local businesses and agencies to help with advertisement and promotional costs of the event. Ball teams, Boy Scouts, and FFA groups who work with the Showcase have received direct financial benefit from this. There has been hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct sales by local farmers, ag businesses, craftspeople, and food vendors on the day of the event, with no charge whatsoever to participate. Many more dollars have been generated for local businesses by people traveling to and from the Showcase.
There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the last Saturday in July. As committee members, we play varying roles: scheduling, farmer-to-restaurant coordination, fundraising, advertising, promotion, farmer and animal recruitment, layout, parking, set-up and take down. We do the Showcase because we are proud of our farming culture and want it to prosper. We do it because we enjoy seeing you catch up with people you only see once a year. We do it because we like eating homemade ice cream and Henry County food. We do it because we love Henry County.
With that said, we do take insult with the fact that an attempt has been made to politicize an event like the Showcase.
For all of those who came and supported this year’s Showcase, thank you for attending!
— Henry County Harvest Showcase Committee, Bonnie S. Cecil, Secretary