A small church between Sterling and Polo was once again the site for good food, family entertainment, and a history lesson in life on the farm.
Each year for the past 11, East Jordan United Methodist Church, 22027 Polo Rd., Sterling, has been home to the Farm Heritage Show, organized by Steve Venhuizen, of Polo, a member of the church and farmer.
“This is our history, and the day is a chance to celebrate that, and go back to our roots for a bit,” said Venhuizen.
The day began at 7 a.m. with a big breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and biscuits and gravy, and lasts until 9 a.m. After that, full bellies head out to the grounds for the festivities.
Andy Hinrichs, owner of Hinrichs Farms, of Oregon, and known for AJ’s Garden Tractor Jamboree, organized an entire section for kids, filled with fodder cutters, corn shellers, choppers, and grinders, an apple cider grinder, a duck pond, and seven hit-and-miss engines.
Hinrichs’ father, Lee, brought in tables filled with farm memorabilia, along with a few garden tractors.
“This is one of my favorite small shows of the year,” said Hinrichs. “We see tons of people - people that we know, no less - and the kids just have a riot.”
A bouncy house, play park, and magic shows by “Magic with the Meyers” rounded out the kids zone experience.
“If the kids are happy, everyone gets to be happy,” said Venhuizen with a laugh.
On the southern end of the fields were what Venhuizen called the “farm history section;” a collection of tasks farmers had to complete in the old days, including hay loading, wheat threshing, corn husking and shredding, and a wagon lift.
“There’s often a cultural separation between rural and urban cousins, and I like to think of this show as an educational opportunity for our urban visitors,” Venhuizen said.
Aside from kids entertainment, magicians, and farm chores, the grounds also served as a display area for collections ranging from old farm equipment to blacksmith tools, tractors as far as the eye could see, and a live blacksmithing demonstration from Polo’s Mark Ebert near the petting zoo, which itself included sheep, calves, and a couple of chickens.
If a slow ride was your slice of heaven on the relatively cool day, John Neahring, of Sterling, was offering wagon rides around the main grounds, while Jim Mocklin, also from Sterling, gave horse carriage rides around the parking lot with his horse, Kari.
With a day full of sights to see, rides to ride, and corn to shell, a lunch was served at 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. of sandwiches, chips, salad, baked beans, and a dessert table.
“This event is such a great time, I love it,” said Gerald Foshitt, of Rock Falls, as he was getting some cookies from the dessert table. “Great people, great atmosphere, great weather. You can’t beat it!”
Venhuizen said he loves putting on the event, but admitted it’s a lot of work.
“I had no idea what I was getting into when I first started this,” he said laughing. “In the end, though, everyone has a great time, the church is incredibly supportive, and the families love it. I couldn’t ask for more.”