Annunciation of Mahoning County Agricultural Society Hall of Fame inductees, ceremony at Canfield Fair
CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) — The Mahoning County Agricultural Society has announced its first Hall of Fame nominees who will be inducted at this year’s 176th Canfield Fair.
The purpose of the Mahoning County Agriculture Hall of Fame is to recognize those who have made a significant impact on agriculture, have distinguished themselves, have made outstanding contributions to their professions, and whose community involvement has served incentive for others.
The induction ceremonies will take place on Wednesday, August 31 on the Concourse stage located near the grandstand. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the induction ceremonies.
This is the first of annual awards that will be given to men or women, husband and wife teams and partnerships as farmers or contributors in an agriculture-related field.
The inductees are:
David and Joanna Witmer
In July 1977, a train derailment virtually destroyed the Columbiana Milling Co. This created a loss of
milling and grain handling to support the local farming community. David, Beaver Township Farmer
Witmer and his wife Joanna immediately saw the need to fill this void, and on July 10, 1978, they opened
the flour mill and grain facility will be known as Witmer’s Feed & Grain. From that humble beginning, David and Joanna added fertilizers and agronomics in the early 1980s and continually increased their grain handling by adding silos and new facilities to handle over 2 million bushels of grain and manufacture more than 100,000 tonnes of animal feed today. David and Joanna believed strongly in our youth in agriculture, and to benefit all rather than some, they became the sponsor of the show shirts worn by all market class exhibitors at the Canfield Fair. David and Joanna can be remembered as kind, caring and helpful. They were kind to everyone they met, caring for young and old alike, and all so helpful to the agricultural needs of Mahoning County and the surrounding area.
Darrel A. Bacon
Darrel Bacon was a successful grain and dairy farmer and the co-founder of Green Meadows Soil Service
in New Springfield. Through his farming operation and service to the farming community, Bacon has ensured
that everyone around him had the most opportunities to succeed, the best arena to perform,
and had the most support that could be provided. Bacon was the Springfield Booster Boys 4-H club’s chief advisor for 62 years. Bacon was also a founding member of the Mahoning County Market Breeding Club and served as its treasurer for 40 years. Along with these and many other extension-related committees, Bacon was inducted into the Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame. Along with his farming duties, Bacon served on numerous Farm Bureau committees and served for 22 years on the Canfield Fair Board, overseeing Junior Fair activities. Beyond his agricultural service, Bacon was a Springfield Township trustee, volunteer firefighter, and school board member, where he also served as clerk-treasurer, bus coordinator, and cafeteria supervisor for local Springfield schools. Bacon also served as Sunday School Superintendent for over 60 years.
Elden R. Groves
Born in 1909 in Green Township, Groves grew up to become a well-known and respected Jersey dairyman on his 100-acre farm. In 1934, Groves’ skills in agricultural journalism were featured in the Farm & Dairy newspaper in a column titled “Sems to me”, and in 1942 Groves was appointed editor of Farm & Dairy, a post that he held until 1982. Groves was the “farm reporter” for WFMJ for 25 years and also wrote a column called “Over the back fence” for Ohio Farmer magazine from 1949 to 1991. Throughout his career, Groves founded and served as editor of seven agricultural publications, and was a columnist for numerous other state and national agricultural publications. Groves was a member of the Canfield Fairboard from 1957 to 1979. In 1979, Groves was inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame and earned the Ohio FFA State Honorary Degree. Groves’s many other awards reflect a life devoted to improving the agricultural industry and the rural way of life.
J. Paul Bon
Born in Beaver Township in 1930. Good grew up on the family farm located on Route 224 at South Avenue. After college, Good joined his father in running Good Farm Equipment in Canfield. In 1963, Good began his career as executive director of the Mahoning County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. His position was later expanded to add Columbiana County to his office. Agricultural education was very important to Good, and he was instrumental in planning the Mahoning County Co-educational Vocational School to ensure the curriculum would include agricultural programs. Through this involvement, Good went on to serve on the board of the vocational school now known as MCCTC. Telling the story of agriculture was also a passion of Paul Good as he produced his WBBW radio show called ‘Good Report’ broadcast every morning from his home, he promoted issues related to agriculture and local agricultural scene.
Vernon E. Crouse
Born in 1894, Crouse grew up on his farm in Beaver Township where his family raised crops and sheep.
Crouse was a member of Canfield Fairboard for 28 years. According to the longtime Canfield Fair secretary, Miss Grace Williams, Crouse is credited with many of the ideas that preserved the agricultural heritage of the fair. Construction of the first 4-H club building, formation of the junior fair, youth day, and cattle parade were all additions credited to Crouse while he served on the fair’s board of directors. Crouse was instrumental in starting the “Pig Iron Derby”, the high school band concert, the shuttle service, the trailer parks, the Sunday church service, the quilting demonstrations and exhibits and moving the fair to the new race track. Crouse had a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from The Ohio State University and was very active in the Mahoning County barns.
Paul D. Witmer
Born in Columbiana in 1906, Witmer began farming and selling farm implements in the 1920s. In 1929, Witmer and his father, IB Witmer purchased the farm on Green Beaver Road in Green Township. It was on this farm that Witmer began his Brown Swiss dairy operation as well as the John Deere dealership that would become one of the largest in the state. The dairy farm became known as Rolling Meadows Farm, consisting of 300 acres and a herd of over 100 registered Brown Swiss cattle. This farm is still operated by the family today almost 100 years later. Dealership Paul Witmer and Sons exhibited machinery at the Canfield Fair from the 1940s through the mid-1990s. Many young ‘future farmers’ remember buying a farm toy at the fair. Witmer also shared his skills by writing a column in The Farm and Dairy in the 1950s called “Man on a Fence”. Witmer was very active in the Ohio and Brown Swiss National associations, where he served as president.
William B. Phillips
Born in 1924, Bill Phillips is probably one of the most recognized names in Mahoning County agriculture. In 1956, Phillips began his 32-year career as a county extension agent in Mahoning County. Phillips brought dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism to his position serving the agricultural community of Mahoning and surrounding counties. Phillips was very active in providing educational opportunities for all aspects of agriculture. Each year he led hands-on programs for dairy farmers, fruit growers, landscapers, market gardeners and many other agricultural specialties. Bill, as everyone knew him, was always on hand to help everyone, whether in person, in class, over the phone, in newsletters, in press articles, or by conducting site visits. Phillips is credited with organizing the annual Urban Farm Tour providing a platform for city dwellers to visit local farms and gain knowledge of farming operations. Bill’s community service, activities and honors are many and indeed distinguished. However, one of Bill’s proudest memories was his service in the Army Air Corp. during WWII.
Born in 1826, Chester’s family moved from New Jersey to the area now known as Berlin Township, Mahoning County, Ohio. Chester Bedell grew up in pioneering conditions. While schooling was nothing like today’s standards, Bedell found ways to ensure his development and became very intellectually competent. Bedell operated a crop and livestock farm in Berlin Township, and he traveled to Chicago every year to buy cattle. Bedell’s landholding grew to approximately 1,700 acres, making him the largest landowner in Mahoning County. Bedell was considered a leader in the agriculture and ranching industries, and his
the old farmhouse was always open to welcome the many friends of the family. Bedell supported local churches, school boards and all charities for the unfortunate. In those days, rewards and recognition were not the custom, but the satisfaction of doing good deeds was personal and in your heart. Bedell’s 1,700-acre farm is said to have housed 1,000 sheep, 300 cattle, and 100 pigs, along with numerous horses and poultry. Bedell also operated a clay tile pottery in the canton of Berlin.
Source: Canfield Fair