By Christopher Tobutt
The Annual Agricultural Show is a time of year when local farmers, as well as artisans and craftspeople have a chance to show just some of what they do all year round. There were plenty of farmers, full-time as well as part-time, gathered in the Stacy Watler Pavillion ready for the Awards Night. Country music played as the awardees, their family and those who have helped and stood by them greeted one another.
“The Society is much aware of the work that has already been done and what remains to be done as self-sufficiency leads to sustainability in whatever discipline whether it is produce, livestock, homemade products, or handicrafts that our farmers and backyard farmers choose. We take this moment to salute and acknowledge all those Caymanian people then and now who use those necessary skills to create magic through hard work and dedication through their God given talents,” said the Agricultural Socety’s welcoming remarks.
MCs for the evening Mr. Orville Daniels and Ms. Anika Conolly. Everyone stood while Ms. Conolly sang the National Song, very beautifully. Agricultural Society member, Rudy Myles then led everyone in a prayer, as well as a moment of silence for all the Society members who have passed on in the last year.
Hon. Juliana O’ Connor Connolly Minister for Education, Youth, Sports Agriculture & Lands spoke about the, “Fantastic,” agriculture show, and the importance of agriculture in the context of food security, in case supplies are cut because of a natural disaster. “More females are coming into farming, and some younger people are coming into it too,” she said.
First of all, presentations were given to those who are to be inducted into the Agricultural Society’s Hall of Fame. “The majority of these inductees were recognized for their extra ordinary contributions to agriculture over the years,” said Anika Conolly. Hon Juliana O’Connor Connolly presented the awards.
The first was Rutherford Evelyn McLaughlin, Mitchell Reeves Powery came next. Other Hall of Fame awardees were: Neils Godfrey, Cert. Hon; Kirkland Nixon, MBE; Hamlin Alston Stephenson: Joseph Jackman DVM, MSc, CM; William Ebanks; Francis Zelmalee Ebanks Cert. Hon; Errol Watler, who was President of the Agriculture Society for 10 years, also came forward to receive his award from the Minister.
Other Hall of Fame awardees were Kent Mitchell Rankin Sr. who started farming after he built his house in Breezy Castle, planting Callaloo and tomatoes and raising cows, and Alden McLaughlin Sr: “His passion for agriculture resulted in him becoming a very active member of the Agricultural Society, serving as President several times,” Anika Conolly said. Otto Watler, Alfred Lawrence Thompson Sr. JP, Harvey Stephenson Snr, Paul Andrew Bodden Sr. and Louis Moncrieeffe, MBE were also named as Hall of Fame inductees.
Clarence McLaughlin received several awards, including Minister’s award for Most Outstanding Farmer of the Year 2019, and Crop Farmer of the Year. Crop Farmer of the Year 2019 Runner Up was Hamlin Stephenson, and John Gall was presented with the Most Improved Crop Farmer award. The Livestock Farmer of the Year was presented to Clifford Powery.
The Champion Exhibitor Livestock award went to the Smith Brothers, who also gained the Best Groomed Cattle On Display Award. Livestock Runner- up Joy Ebanks also gained second Place goat exhibitor, and second Place Poultry Exhibitor awards. The Grand Champion Bull award went to Carlos Forbes, who also gained the Largest Animal in Show award. Johany Ebanks was presented with the Grand Champion Cow award, and Loyd Ramoon gained the Champion Poultry Exhibitor Award.