"Massachusetts Day" at The Big E Brims with Festivities, MassGrown & Fresher, and Green Initiatives
DAR Commissioner Soares presents agricultural awards, receives award for environmental leadership
"Since my first visit as Governor in 2007, The Big E has been a rite of autumn. There is always something new to enjoy and I continue to be impressed with the diversity and vitality of the Commonwealth's agricultural sector," said Governor Patrick. "The community we celebrate here today is integral to the quality of life that makes Massachusetts great."
Massachusetts Day events revolve around the Massachusetts Building on the Avenue of States - an attraction that features replicas of the original capitol buildings of each New England state. Managed year-round by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), the Massachusetts Building offers fair attendees a Taste of Massachusetts morning reception, Massachusetts-made products, and exhibitor booths showcasing local businesses, artisans and non-profit organizations.
"This year's Massachusetts Day combines many elements of the Patrick-Murray Administration's goals to promote agriculture and energy efficiency in one venue," said Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott Soares. "Dozens of exhibitors are presenting, and DAR's MassGrown & Fresher tent on the front lawn of the Massachusetts Building helps visitors learn about the wide variety of agricultural products, venues and activities available across the Commonwealth."
Since DAR launched its MassGrown & Fresher site in April, it has received over 10,000 visitors per month.
"If you like food, crafts, rides, animals, music, and lots of fun - don't miss the Big E," said Betsy Wall, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. "Newcomers are always surprised that there is such an exciting, big-time fair right here in Massachusetts."
As part of DAR's greening initiative, vendors at the Massachusetts Building are embracing biodegradable products including a solar-powered message board and solar-powered "Big Belly" trash compactors.
Also included in the day's activities was a tree planting ceremony on the grounds of the Massachusetts Building. In recognition of his Environmental Leadership Award from the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA), Commissioner Soares planted his favorite tree, a sugar maple. The award, MNLA's highest honor, recognizes individuals who have consistently provided informed leadership in dealing with complex environmental issues. Recipients are recognized for their wisdom, impartiality and willingness to make difficult decisions that contribute to the quality of life of each citizen in the Commonwealth.
"The sugar maple represents both commercial and recreational interests that mirror agriculture's synergistic relationship with communities across our Commonwealth," said Commissioner Soares. "Planting the tree at the Massachusetts Building will allow visitors to appreciate its beauty and serve as a permanent reminder of the reach of agriculture in Massachusetts."
MNLA is also featuring a 400-square foot exhibit in the Massachusetts Building with the themes "ornamental edibles" and 'the bounty of the autumn landscape."
During the event, Commissioner Soares also announced the winners of this year's Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest and the Massachusetts Dairy Industry Promotion's "3-A-Day" poster contest. In the "3-A-Day" contest, Brooklynn Hayes of Granville took home first place, followed by Kayla Fletcher of New Braintree in second and Kaleigh Simmons of Hatfield in third. First, second and third place winners received savings bonds and all winners received four passes to The Big E, invitations to attend Massachusetts Day and free ice cream.
Calendar contest winning photos and honorable mentions will be printed in the 2011 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar published by Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom in cooperation with DAR and the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service. Winning photos are also featured on the DAR Homepage every month.
Winning calendar photographers are:
January - Barbara Ronchetti of Vineyard Haven ("Alpacas")
February - Juli Grzybala of Kingston ("Farmer David Cretinon on his '54 Cub")
March - Carol Johnson of Leyden (Ed's Sugar Shack)
April - Chadd Cook of Amesbury ("Honeybee Pollinating Peach Blossom")
May - Chadd Cook of Amesbury ("Watering Greenhouse")
June - David Cawston of Roslindale ("Cow")
July - Becky Prior of Watertown ("Ladies at Farmers' Market")
August - Susie Mulliken of New Braintree ("Rake for Hayfield")
September - Chadd Cook of Amesbury ("Apple Harvest Under Wind Turbine")
October - Juli Grzybala of Kingston ("Swan Gourds and Autumn Squash")
November - Jerry Horbert of Uxbridge ("Cranberry Boxes")
December - Jerry Horbert of Uxbridge ("Poinsettias")
In addition, honorable mentions went to: Heather Welch of Vineyard Haven, Jerry Horbert of Uxbridge, David Rainville of Ashby, Susie Mulliken of New Braintree, Jessica Maillet of Westminster, Selena Dittberner of Northampton, Trish Wesley of Waltham, Henry Gray of Topsfield, Chadd Cook, Amesbury, Casey Vandervalk of Mendon, and Henry Gray of Topsfield.
Calendars can be purchased for $10 each, with proceeds benefiting Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, a nonprofit organization that works with teachers to develop classroom materials. Send check payable to Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom to PO Box 345, Seekonk, MA, 02771.
Also honored on Massachusetts Day was Russell Davenport, who will be inducted into the Massachusetts Building Hall of Fame. Davenport was a longstanding member of the Massachusetts Board of Food and Agriculture, a dairy farmer and a maple sugar producer, and has been actively involved in promoting agriculture in Massachusetts for many years.
On display at the Massachusetts building is a mural from Smith Academy of Hatfield depicting agricultural scenery. The mural honor Hatfield's agricultural heritage and promotes the availability of local farm products. Under the direction of art teacher Julie Muellejans, students design and paint the 32-foot wide, eight-foot tall murals during the school year.
In addition to DAR and a number of Bay State companies offering Massachusetts-made products, exhibitors in the Massachusetts Building include:
Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association., Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control, Davis Farmland, Equiculture Horse Rescue Booth/ Blue Star, Boston Chocolate Tours, Blackstone Valley Tourism, Mansfield Paper Co., Massachusetts Farm Energy, Berkshire RCD-USDA, Fit Planet, Mass Save, National Waste Recycler Systems, Big Bellies Solar, Massachusetts Wood Producers, University of Massachusetts Athletic Department - Amherst, Segway, Agriculture in the Classroom/ Farm to School Initiative, Massachusetts State Police, Thorndike Mills, MEMA, Massachusetts Farm Bureau, Hampden County Beekeepers Association, and the Massachusetts State Police.
DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at http://twitter.com/MDARCommish