Blue skies, cool temperatures and gentle spring breezes provided a perfect setting for 48th Annual Henderson County Farm and Ranch Tour Tuesday.
The day included a trip to three agriculture-related businesses, and culminated with a large crowd on-hand to see Johnny Mack Lewis named the Joe B. Fulgham Agriculturist of the Year during the noon luncheon at Cain Center.
Lewis raises charolais cattle on his 1,400-acre ranch in the Eustace area, and has raised winning entrees at the Houston Livestock Show and the Van Zandt County Livestock Show.
He’s also been a primary source for hay and winter forage for local dairies. Last year’s recipient of the award, Tommy Morse, presented the trophy.
Lewis was a man of few words, nodding to the crowd as they applauded the selection.
“I’m surprised,” Lewis said.
Lewis grew up in Henderson County, and graduated from Eustace High School and Trinity Valley Community College. His ranch has been in the family since 1850. He and his wife, Linda, have three children, including Brad, Colby and Rebecca.
Athens High School Agricultural Science Teacher and Career Technology Education Sandra Choate was guest speaker at the luncheon. The wife and daughter of ag instructors, Choate has seen the profession evolve from a male-dominated world, to one where women play a prominent role. Her job now involves teaching students how to be leaders, effective speakers and how to meet people.
Stops on the tour this year included:
• G.S. Hilltop Ranch and Farms, a 7-year-old market-goat operation;
• The Big Chicken Daylilly Farm in Brownsboro, which raises hundreds of varieties of daylilly plants; and
• The Bluebird Ranch, a fifth-generation ranch that raises the Scottish Belted Galloway Cattle, the ones that are black on each end, and white in the middle (like Oreos).
The Farm and Ranch Tour originated back in 1963 with pioneers like Jay Benson, Wyndel Tackett, J.D. Lewis, Woodrow Walker, Buford McLaughlin, Hub Moon and John Corley creating an opportunity for citizens to see some of the county’s leading agricultural operations first-hand. It is now one of oldest of its kind in the state.