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May 17, 2013

Good as gold

Farm & Ranch Tour marks five decades in Henderson County

ATHENS — The Henderson County Farm and Ranch Tour pulls out Tuesday morning as it has for half a century, but this time, from a new location.

The 50th annual tour leaves from the Henderson County Fairpark Complex at 9 a.m. Donuts and coffee will be served starting at about 8:30 a.m. After the tour, the buses return to the Complex for a noon luncheon in the arena. The tour is free, and the cost of a lunch plate is $5.

Henderson County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent Rick Hirsch said the caravan will visit three Athens-area locations this year, including Milam Quarter Horses, one of the newer ag-businesses in the county. Milam, founded in 2011, specializes in breeding, raising and exhibiting halter show horses.

The tour will also proceed to Dál Riata Ranch, a multi-purpose operation set in a picturesque setting lined with pines and timber.

J1 Ranch is the third stop on the tour. The 1,400-acre spread is the setting for cattle and calves. The calves are born in the spring and weaned in the fall. They’re then kept to graze in the J1 pasture until they are 22 to 28 months old.

During the luncheon, three former recipients of the Joe B. Fulgham Agriculturist of the Year award will speak. Wyndell Tackett, one of the men who started the tour, was named Man of the Year in Texas Agriculture in 1996. There will also be longtime Henderson County Extension Agent Gayle Finch, who still serves at Farm and Ranch Tour Master of Ceremonies, and Rex Holmes, former District Conservationist for the Soil Conservation Service.  The speakers will  recall some of the history of agriculture in the county and highlights of the first 50 Farm and Ranch tours.

The tour, acknowledged as one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the state, originated back in 1963.

Jay Benson, Wyndell Tackett, J.D. Lewis, Woodrow Walker, Buford McLaughlin, Hub Moon and John Corley envisioned it as an opportunity for citizens to see some of the county’s leading agricultural operations first-hand.

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