Schwartz remembered for his 'barnyard sense'

July 20, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- It's been more than three years since Don Schwartz died, and the memories of him are as fresh as ever.

Friends of the former Washington County agricultural extension agent remember Schwartz going to their houses for dinner to discuss agricultural problems.

They remember how Schwartz would help anybody, even the backyard gardener, and how Schwartz always championed practical farming measures to make sure they worked for local farmers.

"Barnyard sense. That was my term for it," said Charlie Wiles, a close friend of Schwartz, who was remembered Monday night during the annual Don Schwartz Memorial Farm Tractor Pull at the Washington County Ag Expo and Fair.


Wiles pushed for the tractor pull to be named in Schwartz's honor after Schwartz died following a battle with cancer in 2005.

The memories flowed Monday night amid the roaring sound of tractors with black smoke belching from their engines and the cheers of a good pull.

In the competition, drivers compete to see how far their tractor can drag a weighted sled.

A youth class, which was divided between tractors over 100 horsepower and under 100 horsepower, started the night's competition.

Lane Price of Keedysville won first place in the under 100 horsepower category; Paul Forsythe won first place in the over 100 horsepower category.

Adults competed based on different weights of tractors.

Sitting in the middle of a crowd of spectators on a grassy bank was Schwartz's wife, Dee.

Dee Schwartz said she often comes to the tractor pull and felt her husband was probably looking down on the crowd Monday night.

"I need to be here and be a part of this," Dee Schwartz said.

Schwartz said she enjoys being with the next generation of farmers, and she becomes engaged in a long conversation about her husband's work in the county and the future of agriculture. Schwartz said the United States imports too much food, but she is encouraged by local supermarket chains that are offering more locally grown food.

Everybody interviewed for this story knew Schwartz.

Boonsboro farmer Donald Thomas remembered how he worked on the lane to Schwartz's house when Schwartz was sick. Mark Thomas, a farmer near Boonsboro, talked about his long acquaintance with Schwartz.

Ernie Bishop was getting his tractor ready to compete in one of the heaviest weight classes in the tractor pull. The tires on the Massey Ferguson were about 5 feet high and the machine weighed 18,500 pounds. Only factory tractors, those that do the daily chores on a farm, were allowed in the event.

Bishop said Schwartz was a neighbor to a farmer for whom Bishop worked.

Like others, Bishop remarked about Schwartz's commitment to the local farmer.

"You called him about a problem and he was right there for you," said Bishop, a Boonsboro grain farmer.

"Time doesn't erase any of my memories of Don Schwartz," Wiles said.

Today at Ag Expo<'H3>

Tuesday's events at the Washington County Ag Expo and Fair, held at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, 7313 Sharpsburg Pike.

10 a.m. to closing -- Gate admission $2, track admission $10 per person, admission for children 8 and younger is free

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Senior Citizen Day, free admission for those 65 and older

9 a.m. -- 4-H/FFA English horse show

10 a.m. -- 4-H/FFA dairy whowmanship followed by 4-H/FFA dairy cattle show, main show ring

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- Activities at Ag Ventures Learning Center, Ag Ventures tent

2 to 6 p.m. -- Embroider's guild demonstration, Building 1

4 to 8 p.m. -- Spinning and weaving demonstration, Building 1

5 p.m. -- 4-H/FFA beef showmanship and market steer show, main show ring

5 p.m. -- Grandstand opens

5:30 p.m. -- Milking demonstration, milking parlor

6 to 10 p.m. -- Carnival/midway open

7 p.m. -- Tractor and truck pull, track

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