Home » FFA Festival highlights town's farming roots

FFA Festival highlights town's farming roots

PINE PLAINS — Stissing Mountain Middle/High School has one of the more involved and active agricultural programs in the area. Last weekend highlighted that, as the district’s FFA chapter’s annual Fall  Agricultural Festival was held Oct. 8 and 9.

It was a community event with antique tractor pulls, flower shows from the Pine Plains Garden Club and food vendors, among others. Saturday morning’s parade attracted hundreds of residents and visitors who crowded along the parade route. Winding from Seymour Smith Elementary School to Stissing Mountain High School, dozens of floats made their way down Route 199 in a salute to agriculture ranging from a marching band to local farmers proudly driving their farm equipment.

While there was plenty to do during the festival, the focal point of the weekend’s activities was the school’s FFA chapter. Students participated in livestock and small animal judging competitions, as well as arts and crafts exhibits for  younger participants. Friday night a large roast beef dinner was held in the high school cafeteria; the tradition is one of the FFA’s many fundraisers.

One of the most popular activities for FFA members involves working on farms with cows, which led up to the dairy show held on Friday.

“I’ve been looking forward to it,” said 9-year-old Emma Schaeffer, “Once you get in fourth grade you get to do it.”

This was Emma’s first year working with her cow, Riley.

“The hardest part is when you’re walking them on a Monday and they don’t remember the things you worked with them on from the last week,” she continued. “It’s kind of bad when you don’t see them every day.”

Some of the students in the program sponsor animals from area farms while others have their own.

Faith Maskell, a 9-year-old from Milan, owns a chicken and a goat. Both were in competition Friday, and Faith walked away with a first-place ribbon for her market goat.

“My chicken already laid an egg today,” she excitedly told her friends gathered around the cage her Australorp was in.

The larger animals were judged in competition based on the physical attributes of the animal as well the handler’s ability and control. This year’s judge was Chris Smith, who is a 2006 graduate of Stissing Mountain currently attending Cornell University for agricultural education in hopes of becoming an ag teacher.

This year’s FFA chapter president, senior Jonny Weinberger, said that the annual festival is such a success every year because of the way it involves the community.

“It’s really a salute to agriculture,” he said Saturday morning after the parade. “I think it brings the community together over a common ground and everyone seems to contribute, not just the FFA. Everybody helps out because everybody cares.”

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