Tuesday, December 18th, 2007
By Nancy Allen
Event combining music and agriculture planned for March
Local ag official hopes similar event can be done in Mercer County
  A local ag official is helping plan an event that will combine music and agriculture set to take place in Shelby County in March.
If all goes well, it might be possible to do a similar event here, said Chris Gibbs, executive director of the Mercer County Farm Service Agency.
The free performance, entitled Images from the land, is a compilation of photos from everyday farm life taken on six Shelby County farms during the last two years. The event is being headed up by the Gateway Arts Council based in Sidney with help from various ag organizations and government agencies in Shelby County.
The images will be projected on a huge screen while the 35-member Sidney Civic Band performs. The production is meant to entertain and educate the audience about modern agriculture, Gibbs said.
"We will give viewers a chance to experience modern agriculture and match that with local musicians," Gibbs said. "And then use two powerful senses of sight and hearing to promote agriculture."
A similar event was done in Springfield a few years ago, but it lacked order, and those not involved in agriculture found it confusing, Gibbs said.
"My job is to make sure it's technically correct and tells a correct story," said Gibbs, who farms in Shelby and Logan counties.
He was responsible for paring down more than 7,000 shots taken by a professional photographer hired for the event to roughly 1,500. He is one of several volunteers working on the event.
The event will take viewers through a growing season. Spring images will include readying soil for planting; summer will include images from the county fair, tending crops and wheat and hay harvest; fall's shots will show harvesting; and winter will include images of farmers doing end-of-the-year record keeping, tending livestock and attending training meetings to stay informed.
Gibbs said organizers have been adamant about not "pulling farming back in time," but rather showing it as it is now.
"We want to show it as it is today to educate the people on the right hand and give a pleasing experience on the left hand," he said.
Performances will be March 29 at 7 p.m. and March 30 at 2 p.m. at Sidney High School. All money to put on the program is being donated.
If the event goes well, Gibbs said he would like to approach people with an interest in Mercer County to do a similar program.
"If this works out, I'd like to pursue a similar project in Mercer County," Gibbs said. "But I want to see it work first because Mercer County has as much or more to tell about agriculture."
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