The 2018 Indiana State Fair kicks off today and runs through Aug. 19 in Indianapolis. The Featured Farmers program continues this year, sponsored in part by Corteva Agriscience. A different Indiana farm family will be featured each day of the fair. The family will spend the day making guest appearances and meeting various fair officials.
“It’s a way that we can honor ag families and help the public understand how important they are,” says Kenda Resler-Friend of Corteva Ag. She has worked with the program and the featured farm families since the program began several years ago.
The first four families were featured on the website already. Here are the families being recognized during the second week of the fair:
Aug. 7: Brian Churchill, Preferred Popcorn LLC
Brian Churchill, Palmyra, lives and breathes popcorn. He manages the Palmyra location of Preferred Popcorn, a company started by four farmers in Nebraska 20 years ago. They have owned and operated the Indiana location for eight years.
“We have 19,000 acres under contract to be processed at this location this year,” Churchill says.
The company’s popcorn winds up in more than 70 countries around the world. Preferred Popcorn doesn’t package for microwave popcorn. Instead, its popcorn goes to movie theaters and other businesses that use bulk popcorn.
Churchill says popcorn is important to Indiana. In fact, for the past two years, based on certified acres from USDA, Indiana is No. 1 in popcorn production in the U.S.
POPCORN GALORE: Brian Churchill manages production at Preferred Popcorn’s plant in Palmyra. He sends bagged unpopped popcorn all over the world.
Aug. 8: Roger Verhey, Verhey Ag Production
Grain, hay and hogs diversify Roger Verhey’s farm near Romney. He raises corn, soybeans and wheat, with half of the corn production being waxy corn. Some of the soybeans are Plenish beans delivered for a premium.
“We raise lots of hay, and we also custom-bale hay,” Verhey says, adding he and his family cut and bale somewhere between 200 and 250 acres of hay each year. A small amount of the hay is fed to his 30 head of beef cows.
Verhey also operates two barns for finishing hogs — one houses 8,000 head and one houses 6,000 head.
In his spare time, Verhey quips, he runs a small heating and cooling business.
DIVERSIFIED FARM: Raising everything from hay to Plenish soybeans to hogs keeps Roger Verhey (second from left) and family busy in their farming operation, headquartered in Tippecanoe County.
Aug. 9: Larry, Susan and Jeremy Goebel, Goebel Farms
Diversity is also the name of the game on this Evansville farm. Larry and Susan Goebel and their son, Jeremy, raise several crops on 1,000 acres, including 110 acres of pumpkins.
“We started buying land years ago to have a base,” Larry says. “We bought 40 acres, paid it off and grew from there.”
They also raise gourds, other specialty crops and Christmas trees. A large share of the pumpkins and other items are marketed through their retail stand. Some of it is marketed wholesale.
“Jeremy also does a corn maze each year, using precision farming technology to lay it out,” Larry says. “He got worldwide attention last year and hopes to this year.”
Jeremy’s maze design this year is of Prince Harry and his new bride. Check out everything they do at goebelfarms.com.
MORE DIVERSITY: Larry and Susan Goebel (right and left) and son Jeremy (center) grow corn, soybeans, wheat, pumpkins, Christmas trees and more with Jeremy’s family.
Aug. 10: Steve and Kelly Obert family, Obert Legacy Dairy
Steve and Kelly Obert and their family manage a dairy operation near Fort Branch in Gibson County.
It’s called Obert Legacy Dairy, a name that relates to the long history of dairying in their family.