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Breakfast on the Farm event draws another big crowd

Alan Meierding received a heaping breakfast of pancakes, cheesy hash browns and sausages from servers Katherine Ternus, left, Tiffany Dombeck and Alisyn Keil. Brian Hansel/FOCUS1 / 7
Lane Dilly smiled as he hugged Jersey cow, Lucky. Many 4-H animals were exhibited at Breakfast on the Farm. Brian Hansel/FOCUS2 / 7
A huge John Deere combine attracted the interest of Nolan and Garrett Blaha of Moorhead and their grandpa, Mark Ohman, who farmed near Deer Creek at one time. Brian Hansel/FOCUS3 / 7
Sandy Dombeck hugged two of her friends who visited Saturday morning during the East Otter Tail Breakfast on the Farm event. Brian Hansel/FOCUS 4 / 7
Games and rides for children were part of Saturday's event on the Dombeck Farm northwest of Perham. Brian Hansel/FOCUS 5 / 7
Bob Dombeck, a Perham dairy farmer, got a bite to eat as he waited to field questions from people interested in the farming industry. Brian Hansel/FOCUS6 / 7
Two-year-old McKenna Larson of Ottertail enjoyed milking a mechanical cow on Mike and Sandy Dombeck's farm Saturday morning. Brian Hansel/FOCUS7 / 7

A threat of rain last Saturday morning did little to dampen the enthusiasm for the second annual East Otter Tail Breakfast on the Farm event.

Mike and Sandy Dombeck’s 140-acre farm 2 ¾ miles northwest of Perham saw a steady deluge of people, young and old, show up for a five-hour event under a gray August sky. The Dombeck's farmed near Wadena for 40 years before they moved to their Perham farm on 410th Avenue - a place where Sandy grew up.

Mike enjoys his golfing these days but Saturday morning he was steering a tractor around, not a golf cart. He had drawn the job of ferrying people in from a parking area north of his building site.

“It ain’t raining,” Mike smiled from the seat of his tractor. “We’ve had a good turnout as far as I can see.”

Sandy played hostess, bumping into friends and acquaintances every few feet, as she toured the grounds.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said as she made her way along. “We couldn’t do it without all the volunteers. It takes a lot of good people. Some of them were here at 5 a.m.”

Not only did the adults volunteers pitch in the younger set was also on the ball and the people who visited treated the Dombeck's property with a lot of respect. Sandy was able to find only about three pieces of litter after the event.

Breakfast on the Farm committee member Alisyn Keil pegged the number of volunteers on the Dombeck farm Saturday morning at 60 or 70. Keil was especially happy with Mother Nature. Along with all the work was shouldering Keil was monitoring the weather.

“The rain keeps breaking up before it gets to us,” Keil said.

Keil said Monday morning that event volunteers served 1,075 plates of food Saturday and she estimated the turnout at 1,150 people - a mark which shattered last year’s inaugural attendance of 970. People came from states as far away as New York and Washington. Based on the $14,000 the Breakfast on the Farm committee collected from sponsors and a good will offering, Keil estimated the event organziers will be able to easily donate $2,000 to $3,000 to ag-related youth groups like 4-H and the Future Farmers of America.

Despite the success of the day and the intention to stage another Breakfast on the Farm event somewhere in eastern Otter Tail County next year, Sandy Dombeck intimated the experience of hosting the large event had her walking on pins and needles for awhile.

“You’ll plan for it but you have no idea if it’s going to be one or 500,” Sandy said.

The Breakfast on the Farm program is rooted in a realization by many that city and lake dwellers have lost touch with the farming roots earlier generations enjoyed - and the even deeper realization they can learn from one another.

Bob Dombeck, a dairyman farming north of Perham, was on hand Saturday morning to help answer questions from the curious. Dombeck said Saturday the questions he had fielded were not especially difficult ones to answer.

“It seems like people want to know how the food is grown,” he said.

Crop spraying is one area where so much has changed, according to Dombeck. To spray crops these days farmers have to undergo training and be licensed. The Department of Agriculture has a lot to say about what they do and what chemicals they can use.

“All the bad stuff of years past is gone,” Dombeck said.

Molly Meyer and her brother, Nathan, live on Little McDonald Lake and while they have both visited farms, their trip to the Dombeck place held some new attractions.

“I like to see all the animals,” Molly said. “Especially the horse.”

For Nathan, both the animals and the tractors were a treat.

One spot everyone wanted to visit was the one where the farm animals were penned. 4-H members turned out with their farm animals - everything from goats to chickens.

A row of tractors and other farm implements stretched from one side of the building site to the other - combines, potato planters, four-wheel drive tractors and sprayers were parked along many of the old implements farmers once used.

Brenda Ohman watched her husband, Mark, and their two grandsons, Nolan and Garrett, climb around on the machinery. The Ohman’s farmed for many years near Deer Creek but their grandsons live in Moorhead.

“This is awesome,” Brenda exclaimed. “The livelihood of the area is farming and it’s a chance for kids to know what they are all about.”

Two of the newcomers to the Breakfast on the Farm event were Les and Sarah Thorstenson of Marion Lake. Les once sold silos for a living and he even remembers helping Mike Dombeck with his milking once upon a time when Sandy wanted to get him off the farm for a few days.

“It’s very educational and interesting,” Les said. “I think this is better than Farm Fest and the (Minnesota) State Fair because you can really see stuff.”