Thank-you dinner was a real circus for farm families
The Rev. Bruce Mac-Laughlin, pastor of Ziegels Lutheran Church, Breinigsville, welcomed the 850 farmers and their supporters to the Farm Family Appreciation Celebration dinner at the Hamburg Fieldhouse.
Each year farm families receive a free dinner as a thank-you for their hard work feeding the people of America and the world. Supporters buy their tickets.
"It is heartwarming to see so many of you here," MacLaughlin said. "It is my first time, so I did some research."
And keeping with the theme of this year's dinner, "Circuses and Carnivals," he jokingly said farmers shouldn't tell secrets because potatoes have eyes and corn has ears, and if a clown's nose were a foot long, it would be a foot, not a nose.
"This is the 14th time we have held this event," MacLaughlin said. "Eat enough; dance enough and fellowship enough."
The pastor then recited a prayer, written by poet Robert Frost, which began "Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today," and ended with "For this is love and nothing else is love."
McLaughlin then honored members of the military, past and present, as well as their families and read the list of organizations sponsoring the dinner. He made note of the two new churches that are now sponsors: St. Peter's Union Church, Tamaqua, and Heidelberg United Church of Christ.
Eighteen major sponsors were listed. Most of them were banks, churches and granges. Another 16 churches were categorized as congregational donors.
"Without their support this may not be possible," MacLaughlin said. "We thank the 600 farm family members for their dedication and work in God's creation."
He also thanked God "for the fruitful life that gives us what we need for life."
Leader of the band, The Outlaws, Rick Hartman, chose several circus-themed songs and taped them to play during dinner. The first and most recognizable was "The Circus Grand Entrance," which was used by Barnum and Bailey, Hartman explained.
After some line dancing, the music switched to hoedowning, with Paul Adams doing the calling.
As the dinner was held two days short of St. Patrick's Day, there were attendees also celebrating that holiday.