Catawba County Farm City Week Banquet Dairy Farms of Catawba County Then and Now

Posted On November 8, 2018— Written By and last updated by

Farm City Week began in 1955 as a result of a conversation on a train between Charles Dana Bennett, a businessman from Vermont and Merle H Tucker Chairman of Kiwanis International Agriculture and Conservation Committee.
They wanted to find a way to increase respect for farming, awareness of our reliance on farm products and communication between urban and rural people. Catawba County has celebrated Farm City Week for years as a partnership between The Kiwanis, Farm Bureau and N.C. Cooperative Extension. The banquet this year will be held on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, at The Catawba County Country Club located at 1154 Country Club Rd. in Newton. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the program running from 6–9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased by November 16. Tickets may be paid by cash or check at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Catawba County Center, 1175 S. Brady Ave. Newton,  purchased online at Eventbrite or call our office for more information 828-465-8240. The program will include dinner, speakers, presentation of The Outstanding Contributor to Agriculture in Catawba County Award presented by Kiwanis and an Auction conducted by Tommy Poovey.

The theme this year is Dairy Farming in Catawba County: Then and Now. There will be three speakers on the panel to discuss the early days of dairy farming in the county, family history, and how the industry has changed over the years. On the speakers panel will be Historian and Executive Director of the Hickory Landmarks Association, Patrick Daily, who will share with us the story of the Shuford Dairy Farm at Maple Grove in the 1880s and 1890s. Although the Shuford Dairy was not in operation long, they were the first farm in the area to bring in Jersey cows from Pennsylvania. Patrick Daily will be sharing a slideshow of images from this time.

Other speakers will be Corey Lutz and Dan Hunsucker both speaking about growing up on a dairy farm, the changes they have been through and what the future may hold. Corey Lutz believes his family started their dairy in the early 1900’s, increasing in production until the 1980s when the growth of larger dairies made it difficult for smaller farms to compete. The Lutz dairy is still in operation today but are diversifying and opening Riverbend Creamery (Lincolnton) in the summer of 2019. They will offer a full line of dairy products (including ice cream) direct to the public as well as agritourism activites.

In 1926, grandparents Garland and Anna Smith Hunsucker founded Hunsucker Dairy with just 15 cows. By the 1980’s the herd had grown to 150 with Dan joining the business in 1984 after college. To remain in farming, they found they had to diversify more to cattle and other row crops and exited the dairy business in 2010 due to family illness, difficulty in finding skilled workers and the increase in input costs. Currently, they sell their beef locally under the name Rock Barn Beef (rockbarnbeef@yahoo.com) available directly from the farm and at Circle Hat Farm Market in Conover (321 Hwy business and Conover Blvd).

For more information about this program or other N.C. Cooperative Extension programming, please contact us at 828-465-8240.