After a challenging 2020, the result of a global pandemic and difficult financial ramifications of shutdowns, the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce's Agricultural Committee were back in the saddle in hosting their third annual Banquet In a Field: Western Style.
The event took place on the local family farm of the Ridl family, on Tuesday, July 13, and featured a deliciously educational summer opportunity for agricultural producers to sit down with non-agricultural consumers and converse about how production agriculture gets to the dinner plate.
"It sparked many conversations and we hope that the conversation continues, and consumers continue to ask questions," Arthur Ridl said. "Thank you to the Chamber and the Ag Committee for all their hard work. We have received so many positive comments and thank you’s after the event; it truly was a success.”
The event, which featured more than 140 guests, provided the Ridl Farms with a chance to set aside the combine for a day and host an evening which included a social hour, al fresco dining, farm tour, locally brewed beverages, live music and more.
The Ridl Farms partnership consists of brothers Kurt, Arthur, and Arthur’s sons Joe and Rusty Ridl. The Ridl boys delighted in the opportunity to share their family story with guests on growing flax, oats, canola, soybeans and crambe in years past, while highlighting their current crops of spring wheat, malt barley, corn, sunflowers and hay crop.
Much like other farmers in the western part of North Dakota, the Ridl's also dabble in ranching — and by dabble, they mean a 900 head feedlot for backgrounding with holstein steers.
Rusty leads the charge of the family's registered Angus cow herd, and highlighted with guests the Ridl Farm mission to provide high quality customer service, production cattle and maintain a refined, distinguished cow herd for years to come.
“It was an exciting opportunity to host this year’s Banquet In A Field event," Arthur Ridle said. "We are hoping that it helped in bridging the gap between the producer of food and the consumer, from the farm to the table."
For attendees, the moment the picturesque backdrop of ripe crops and rich pastures at Ridl Farms came into view, they knew they were in for a memorable experience. The evening not only showcased the production agriculture at the farm, but provided a first-hand look at scenic Western ND.
After being welcomed by the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce staff and Ag Committee volunteers, guests were guided to the evening’s social where for an hour attendees went from station to station, visited crop plots, ate appetizers, listened to live guitar music by Jessie Veeder and engaged with the Ag producers with questions and answers.
After the social hour, guests were seated at round tables decorated with centerpieces, courtesy of 701 Design + Events.
Guests feasted on a multi-course formal meal, featuring three different meats prepared by North Dakota State University's BBQ Boot Camp and Carnivore Catering and Sodexo. The meat featured beef top round kabobs, lamb leg kabobs and pork tenderloin medallions.
Twelve different North Dakota commodity groups were represented and provided guests with appetizers showcasing the diversity of North Dakota’s agriculture. The stations included barley, canola, corn, grapes, pulse and flax, sunflowers and wheat. Nearly every station provided guests with an appetizer made with the featured food ingredient or meat.
The event would not have been possible without the event staff, which included 10 Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce volunteers and a dozen North Dakota 4H members as servers.
“At the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, we connect business and community, and we reach outside of city limits," Carter Fong, executive director of the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, said. "Farming and ranching isn’t just a business; it’s a way of life that often spans generations. We saw that in our hosts, the Ridl Family."
Fong added, "In an era where we allow others to do more of our cooking and even our grocery shopping, we cannot lose that hunger to understand everything that it takes to bring food from field to table.”
The educational element was a centerpiece of the event.
“Agriculture is such an important industry. Banquet In A Field: Western Style is a great way to help educate the consumer and showcase the many commodities we grow right here in our backyards in southwest North Dakota," Lavy Steiner, Dickinson Area Chamber Agriculture Committee Chair and Commodity Insurance Agency (CIA) Insurance Agent, said. "We hope after attending BIAF, our guests will even be able to recognize the different crops they see growing out in the fields and associate them to the foods they are putting on their tables.”
With the successful event in the books, the hunger for next year's event is already growing. The Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce's Ag Committee have begun making plans for next year's fourth annual event, which they hope will be a key community resource going forward, for those who want to learn more about how agriculture impacts their daily lives.