I had only been at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Salem last week for 10 minutes when I ran into four different people that I know. My wife, Carla, and I were there to judge foods and photography, respectively.
Fairs and even pre-judging are great places to meet people who haven't seen for a long time, or don't see often. In this case I chatted with Blake Hackman, ag teacher at Brownstown Central and C.J. Fleenor, a former outstanding high school and collegiate soil judger, judging for Gary Steinhardt at Purdue University.
I also visited with Danielle Walker, former vo-ag teacher at Scottsburg and now the ag educator in Washington County. Later, Jim Day's wife stopped by for a short chat. Jim was named a Master Farmer two years ago. He is a fixture in the Washington County fair, but during pre-judging week, he was at home still trying to get field work and haymaking done before the fair opened. My two assistants in the photography division were his granddaughters.
Gary Geswein was also there to judge. A story in his own right, Geswein began his teaching career in 1969, and taught at four high schools, including starting or restarting programs at North Harrison and Lanesville. Former students of his are now in charge of both of those programs. He also spent a stint working for the state education department, and was executive secretary of the Indiana Young Farmers Association from 1978 through 1984. That's when IYFA was at its zenith, with more than 1,000 people attending the state IYFA state convention every year.
Today Geswein and his brothers, who also had other careers, farm the 500-acre family farm and maintain a small beef herd.
"I just enjoy being able to spend more time with family, including kids and grandkids," he says. That's a well-deserved privilege for someone who has officially retired at least twice already.