Banquet in a Field: Dickinson's Farm-to-Table event hits record turnout
The Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculture Committee hosts an evening centered on local produce and agriculture for a fourth successful year.
DICKINSON — The farm-to-table continues to gain momentum as more and more people are understanding the vital importance of locally sourced foods. In Dickinson on Tuesday, the movement was directly highlighted by the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculture Committee who for four iterations have promoted local agriculture by providing attendees from surrounding communities with an opportunity to speak with local farmers and ranchers in an effort aimed at connecting those unfamiliar with agriculture with those whose labor starts in the lush fields of southwest North Dakota and end up on a plate on a dining room table.
The chamber chose to again pair with the Ridl family, who have hosted for a few years and operate a farm just northwest of Dickinson, to celebrate the fourth annual Banquet in the Field.
The 2022 iteration featured the largest attendance in event history, serving more than 160 guests with delicious foods with a side of fun.
“This event focuses on networking and combining Ag education with the conversational level during an appetizer social and then at the banquet tables themselves,” Carter Fong, executive director at Dickinson Area Chamber Of Commerce, said. “We think it is a great opportunity for people in farming and agriculture to meet others from the community who work in other industries and to share ideas.”
The event’s social encompassed live music from local country artist Jessie Veeder, with an opportunity to mingle with local farmers, ranchers and gardeners around any of 10 appetizer stations plush with locally produced delicacies made with all-local ingredients.
“I love attending events like this where you get to talk to public figures and people who deal with the community on an everyday basis, because those people like that are the ones who truly access people who aren't in Ag,” Paul Schroden, Barley Agronomist for Anheuser-Busch and an avid Beer Enthusiast, said. “I think barley is a perfect example of something that has a direct relationship with the food that we eat and the beer that we drink essentially. North Dakota is one of the top three producing states for malting barley and barley in general… Not many people realize this and we really love bringing that up to the community and it's a great event to show that with.”
Schroden shared with guests that the Ridl farm has barley crops that once raised will end up in their supply chain and could very well make a full circle back to the state in one of North Dakota’s most prominent beers such as Busch light, Budweiser and Bud Light.
Mel Dukart, of the Happy Hooves Farms, said she was happy to see so many people trying their lamb during the social and witnessing first hand the smiling faces light up with the realization of the tastefulness of a lesser indulged meat source.
“There is some misconception about lamb out there and it's good when people try it. Hopefully they go to the grocery store or find a producer that they can purchase from and buy some lamb and eat more of it,” Dukart said. “It's good when people have that connection with the producers and know where their meat is coming from. From pasture to table is vitally important.”
Dukart also emphasized the importance of farmers markets, herself an operator and proprietor at the local farmers market in Dickinson. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, farmers markets are the No.1 trusted source of produce in the nation according to confidence polls.
As the mingling moved on to dinner and music, guests toured the Ridl farms via wagon provided by the NDSU Dickinson Research Extension Center and saw firsthand the process behind the farm's sizable operation.
“I grew up on a farm and I am still a little bit naive about how disconnected the public is. This is a great opportunity to try and showcase what we do as farmers and ranchers and not only show them what we do, but that these are the same products that you buy at the grocery store but better,” Chris Augustin, director of Dickinson Research Extension Center, said. “There are a lot of people that know what a wheat plant looks like, but they may not know what a barley plant looks like and having things like that right next to each other I hope helps people to connect the dots on what we are trying to do.”
As the Western Edge’s stars dotted the skies and meadowlarks rang in the departing hour, guests saddled up and left the farm for their own homes in communities across southwest North Dakota — all agreeing that the annual event was another rounding success.