Farm Days plows new ground for old ways

Farming as it used to be was demonstrated at the weekend event.

A teamster using nine farm horses begins plowing at the Garfield County fairgrounds, part of weekend events at Spring Farming Days.

A teamster using nine farm horses begins plowing at the Garfield County fairgrounds, part of weekend events at Spring Farming Days.

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Rachel Alexander

Dave Waldren, from Pomeroy, begins his second lap around the field with a few passengers after getting his team hitched to a horse-drawn farm implement.

POMEROY — With 13 acres plowed, harrowed and seeded, Garfield County is ready to call its latest Spring Farming Days a success.

A few hundred people converged at the county fairgrounds over the weekend for the annual event, which features agricultural displays, crafts and a good amount of old-fashioned plowing.

Teamsters from Idaho and eastern Washington hitched up their horses to drag plows over the cold ground, undeterred by the wind and gray skies. A total of 12 hitches chipped in to plow the grounds on Saturday, with people into their 80s driving the teams.

Early morning rain on Sunday had event organizers worried about finishing the work, but by afternoon, the weather had improved enough to allow the tractors to seed the field.

“This is good dirt,” said David Ruark, the secretary-treasurer for the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum, which organized the event. His pronouncement was met with nods and agreement from a team which had traveled from Rathdrum, Idaho to join in the fun.

Jay Franks, the museum’s president, said one of the highlights for him was “being able to see the smile on people’s faces” as they watched the teams work, especially older people who grew up farming with horses.

“They could remember things that brought back smiles to them,” he said.

The weekend wasn’t all plowing, though — there were also a number of displays of farm machinery and other agricultural equipment. One man drove from Boise, Idaho, to set up several different machines, including an elaborate waterworks with dozens of motor-powered faucets spitting water into a bathtub. Ruark and Franks said that display was one of their favorites.

“That was a really cool addition,” said Franks.

Other highlights included an old steam engine, which had been refurbished to run after a few hours of warming up, and a collection of John Deere memorabilia brought to the museum by Dennis Palmer, who’s been collecting their farm machinery catalogues for years.

“My favorite part was meeting to many different people and seeing so many old friends,” said Ruark.

Ruark estimated attendance at 300 to 400 people, and Nancy Ruark, who was in charge of the kitchen, said that a total of 480 meals were served over the course of the weekend.

Next year, the organizers are hoping for better weather and even more displays.

“It gets to be bigger and better. We hope to reach out to people who aren’t aware of it,” said Ruark.

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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