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East Ottertail Breakfast on the Farm kicks off inaugural event

Food, family, fun and community all came together Saturday at the first ever East Ottertail Breakfast on the Farm held on August and Betty Ziegler’s farm in Perham, where approximately 970 people came out on a bright, cool, clear morning to enjoy fresh off the griddle pancakes and learn about the farming life.

Volunteer Alisyn Keil said it blew everyone away when they did the final count and saw they were just shy of serving 1,000 plates. “We were ecstatic,” she said. “Everyone was very happy. Overall it went great and it’s awesome to see those numbers.”

Other numbers from the day include $3,400 raised from the free-will donation. That money will go to community groups such as FFA and 4H. Kiel said the plan is to hold the event at a different farm every year and spread it across East Ottertail county.  

Approximately 70 volunteers helped make the day possible, ranging in ages from nine to the, let’s just say, very seasoned. When word got out about the event, help really just showed up, according to Kiel. They were contacted by farm families, ag businesses and non-profit groups, all wanting to know how they could donate their time to help.

“I think part of everyone being so willing to jump in was the excitement of the new event, and we didn’t need people to go out and ask for money, we just needed them to donate their time and knowledge,” Kiel said. “This was about raising awareness, educating the community, and really just coming out and talking about something they are passionate about.”

FFA, 4H, and EOT Dairy Princesses were several groups on hand to help, in addition to the Minnesota Beef ambassadors. Emilee White, 16, of New York Mills, a Minnesota Beef ambassador, was on hand to answer questions and brought two of her beef cattle for visitors to pet and see up close.

“I’m here to help support the beef program and provide people with informational material,” White said. She travels the state as an ambassador and some of the most common questions she gets include: are the cows happy, what kind of life do they live, and why are they so calm?

“I tell folks they have a very good life and are very happy. I spend time with them everyday and they are well taken care of, “ White said. “They are calm because I am with them so much, and I show them at the state, local and national level. So they are used to people and activity.”

She feels events such as the breakfast are important so that those who don’t live on a farm can get a little bit of that experience and see everything that goes into farm life.

Mark Murdock of Ottertail came to the Breakfast on the farm with his wife and grandkids because he thinks it’s a great way to teach the kids about the importance of farming.

“I’m not in farming, my father-in-law is a retired farmer, but this is a great way for the kids to learn about where their food comes from.” Murdock added the event had plenty of activities that made it a fun morning.

An important part of farm life is the equipment it takes to get all that work done, and farmers can tell you that equipment has changed drastically over the years. Machinery displays were set up to highlight the evolution of farm equipment. Nestled between a 10 horsepower Allis Chalmers “G” made around 1950, and a 45 horse power Allis Chalmers WD45, built in 1953, was a 560 horsepower John Deere 9560 RT tractor that requires a side ladder to climb into the cab.

“All the farm equipment came from about 10 different local farms,” Kiel said. “There’s a great range of sizes and ages, different types of machinery, all of it still used including the helicopter sprayer.”

Breakfast on the Farm had numerous booths for attendees to browse and learn about various topics, as well as animals to feed and pet. Virgil Jons of Frazee attended with his family and said they were had a great time. “It’s a fun family gathering and educational.”

Kiel felt that the event went well for being the first time and not knowing what to expect. The group planned for 1,000, hoped for 500, and by 9:30 a.m. had already fed over 300. A handful of hungry guests trickled in at 7 a.m. when the doors opened, and by 7:30 a.m. a steady stream of people were making their way down the dusty road for a morning of farm fun.

“I love community events like this. I didn’t grow up a farmer but I am now, and promoting ag is huge for us,” Kiel said. “We live and breathe it.”