Last roundup?

Casey Case (seated) and Roger Hannaford look over plans for the Farm/City Appreciation event planned for Nov. 23. With the Chamber of Commerce closing, it may be the last gathering.

Following news that the Marion Chamber of Commerce will cease to exist at the end of the year, some projects could be abandoned unless other groups or individuals take them on.

One of those projects is the annual Farm/City Appreciation banquet, which has been a part of the community for 50 years, according to Casey Case, committee co-chair.

?I love this event,? Case said of the banquet. ?This is the one time I can personally invite some of my bigger farm and ranch customers to town for a steak.?

The other co-chair, Roger Hannaford, agreed with Case, adding that the event has a positive impact for a lot of people.

?This is one way we can show our appreciation for the Marion and Marion County community by cooking a steak dinner with all the trimmings,? Hannaford said.

?When I first came to Marion, the next thing I knew I was on this special (Agriculture) committee for the Chamber,? he said. ?I?ve been with it ever since the late 1970s.?

Event history

Matt Classen and the late ?Doc? Earl Wood, Case said, were involved in the first appreciation banquet in 1964, which was considered a stag event.

?Along with the dinner, Doc would have a pre-party at his vet clinic,? Case said.

Hannaford said some real-estate agents in Lincolnville also were involved. He also thought the Marion County Extension office and Chamber of Commerce had a lot to do with the event.

?It was a way to thank the farmers and ranchers in Marion County,? he said. ?All the retail stores stayed open late while the men went to the dinner?until about 10 years ago.?

Case said they used to serve about 500 large rib-eye steaks, but in recent years the number has dropped to about 225.

?We had this big grill that had four different sections and we had all four going,? Case reminisced. ?It would take one to two hours to cook all those steaks with 12 to 15 steaks on each grate.?

Hannaford said organizers normally use about half the grill now and the steaks are done in 30 to 40 minutes.

?It sure shows the decline in the farming community,? he said.

Careful timing

The appreciation banquet is always the Monday before Thanksgiving, Hannaford said.

?If we did it before the end of Daylight Saving Time, the farmers and ranchers would still be working?and even now some are still working,? Case said.

The Monday before Thanksgiving is a good time to give thanks for the farm community, Hannaford said.

In October, the fundraising begins, but the same core of businessmen is willing to donate time or money, according to Case said.

?We have a list and everybody (on the committee) calls a certain amount of people,? he said

The cost for the event is between $2,000 and $3,000 these days, Case said.

As co-chairs, Case and Hannaford are in charge of getting people to help them cook steaks, set up and other tasks.

Uncertain future

?I don?t want to see the appreciation banquet end,? Case said. ?Without Chamber meetings, somebody needs to take the ball and run with it.?

Added said: ?If people want to do it, it will take money and 15 to 20 volunteers.?

People are needed to cook steaks, wash dishes, distribute food, serve coffee, set the table?it takes a lot of help, he said.

?If there?s no money and no help or only one or the other, it quits,? Hannaford said.

?What?s sad, is it could just fade away and nobody might not notice,? Case said.

Hannaford said he and Case can?t be a two-man show.

?We need financial commitments and volunteers to work the day of,? he said.

Case said he sees the influx of young people in Marion as a great asset.

?With the Chamber dissolving, who knows what the future will bring for this event,? Hannaford said, adding that the main thing is to stay positive.

?We will go forward and get through this year, then we will see what happens getting ready for next year,? he said.

The Farm/City Appreciation Banquet is 6-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, in the Marion City Hall basement, 203 N. Third St.

For more information or to suggest ideas to secure its future, call Case at Case & Sons Insurance, 620-382-2106, or Roger Hannaford Abstract & Title Co., 620-382-2130.

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