By Tony Hooker
Another Ag Days weekend has come and gone here in the river city, and my mind can’t help but wander back to when the kids were younger.
Ag Days meant the last JFL football and cheerleading practice before the first game, usually a practice contest versus Unity.
Ag Days meant it was time to drive to the front door of the school on Friday afternoon to see which teacher our kids had been assigned to and whether they were in the same room with their buddies.
Ag Days meant a big pot of Mama Hooker’s Italian Beef in the crock pot at the house. When you’re balling on a budget, you can’t eat every meal at Ag Days, although I could probably live on chops and pork burgers from the VG Chamber of Commerce, with a corn dog or taco boat from Fat Jack’s as a chaser.
Ag Days meant working to support whatever activities our children were involved in at the time. Cheerleading dunk tank? Been there. Long, hot days slinging concessions at the derby to help the JFL program? You bet.
Ag Days meant getting up early on Saturday to help set up tables and chairs at the beer tent to help the high school football team.
Ag Days meant helping pour beers until the wee hours of the morning to help your friends.
Ag Days meant getting up early on Sunday to help clean up because your son was on the football team.
Ag Days meant having a lump in your throat during the parade because you were amazed at how cool your little town is. (Truth is, this one still holds true!)
Ag Days meant 3 on 3 basketball, and emceeing Kiddie Tractor Pulls, and organizing the 5k, and so many other things.
Ag Days meant being amazed at the number of cars that the Akers family was able to pull into VG for their show, even though it’s technically not a part of the festival itself. Millions of dollars in machinery, all on display at Harrison Park. Here’s hoping they’re able to get back to doing it because it truly is something special.
Finally, Ag days meant (and still means) Community. The way the businesses and townspeople come together to put this thing on leaves me awestruck. It might be “just” a little town fair, but it takes almost 24/7 commitment from Bruce Allen, Stacey Burnett and all the other volunteers to make it happen. One volunteer’s absence was surely felt by all, as Don Dixon, who did whatever needed doing for a great many years of the celebration, passed in June of 2020. One person who I must mention by name is Donny Patton. Over the course of two days, I saw him doing everything from dumping refuse bins to hauling the boards from the bags tournament to tearing down P.A. equipment at the State Bank Stage. He and his John Deere were a ubiquitous presence during the event and his efforts are truly appreciated.
I’m no longer as invested in the event as I once was, but I am so thankful that there are others who are.
The faces change over time, but the heart of the community beats on. That’s what makes this a nice place to live.