Family opens farm to Luke Bryan and 15,000 others for concert

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Luke Bryan

It is a familiar scenario on the pages of this publication to read about farms opening up barns, pastures, homes and hearts to share our agricultural story with visitors.

Some of these are formal and planned around major programs and events while others are casual, but still fill a critical need. During those times, the visual realities of our lifestyle are unfiltered and on display for observation. However, there is a big difference between sharing knowledge and sharing wisdom.

As is said, we acknowledge that a tomato is a fruit, but we are wise enough to realize that it does not belong in the fruit salad.

In other words, we need to state the facts, but visitors really need to know the rationale behind the challenges we face when working with Mother Nature and Uncle Sam.

Nothing could ever replace the right answer at the right time by the person able to make the most of a teachable moment.

Luke Byran

As some of you may know, our farm took on such an experience when we agreed to host the Luke Bryan Farm Aid concert back in September. During that day and evening, we watched an endless parade of concert staff and concert attendees come to our farm to be entertained by the celebrity.

Thirty-five semis and more than 300 staff transformed our hay field into a “field of dreams” in a matter of hours so more than 15,000 guests could relax, have fun, and experience the live concert under the stars.

The planning process began back in June. The concert organizers knew that Columbus had a huge fan base for Luke Bryan, so they began the search for a location that could meet their criteria.

After several visits and careful research, the team gave our farm a “thumbs up,” and the plans began.

To that point, we had never attended one of these concerts, but after 10 years, the crew knew exactly what they were doing. They carefully and skillfully directed us with each step of involvement.

We soon knew everyone on a first name basis and solid relationships were formed with us, our entire community, and Madison County.

Bayer was a contributing sponsor and they sent video crews for promotions. We spent hours sharing our farm life with producers and camera personnel who understood little of our lifestyle.

Again, we forged bonds and shared that knowledge with touches of wisdom. The stage was being set to for the tunes and lyrics of Luke Bryan, but agriculture was also there sharing the limelight.

CMT

There was another rush of excitement as the CMT Top 20 show decided to film its 300th episode at the farm on the day of the concert.

The crew arrived a day ahead and spent several hours following us, asking questions, and putting together a human interest story about our farm and family. As the concert day progressed, we interacted with visitors who came to ask about cows and calves.

The cows lined the fence to greet and study (with curiosity) the phenomenon about to take place. I pinched myself when I saw Luke Bryan standing in the yard being interviewed.

Then something more amazing took place as he entered the barn to meet our twin bull calves that were less than a few hours old. Of course they were appropriately named Luke and Bryan.

He seemed just as comfortable in our barn as he did on stage and he shared his story of why he has chosen to perform these live, Farm Aid concerts for the past decade.

His celebrity endorsement of agriculture “gives back” to rural life and draws country music loving fans directly into our farms. The advertising value is priceless and the Bayer collaboration to donate meals was yet another wise and caring gesture to help feed America.

Everything about this experience was genuine. From the big name star himself to the management company, from the concert ticket holders to the folks at Bayer, it was a dream platform to speak about agriculture.

Even the 3 inches of rain 72 hours prior to the concert gave way to an amazing double rainbow the evening of the concert. You just cannot script that sort of magic, and everyone there had the opportunity and time to look up and savor the beauty it offered.

Did knowledge and wisdom collide because of Luke Bryan’s respect for the American farmer? If he was the beginning, we need to salute his celebrity status that had everyone listening to the lyrics of our lifestyle.

In the end, maybe this was much more than entertainment, maybe it was more about inspiring ourselves. So when you sit down to enjoy that Thanksgiving feast this week, share a few words of appreciation for the blessings of a life devoted to agriculture.

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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.

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