WILMINGTON — Under clear skies and warm breezes, more than 300 guests enjoyed locally produced farm food at the 8th Clinton County Dinner in the Fields Friday evening at the Wilmington College academic farm on Fife Avenue.
With its mission each year to highlight locally sourced meat, produce and talent, Dinner in the Fields is held at a different farm around the county each year to bring guests from all parts of the county and region onto a farm to meet and share the bounty of locally produced foods.
“We are so glad to host this year’s Dinner in the Fields,” said event Co-Chair Sigrid Solomon of Wilmington College.
The annual harvest celebration is sponsored by the Clinton County Leadership Institute (CCLI) and a number of volunteers and organizations supporting the event. The dinner was open air, with the university choosing not to hold it under a tent and crossing their fingers that the skies would be clear.
Among those attending were Tom Popp and his wife Leilani. They’ve lived in Wilmington more than 35 years and have attended several of the Dinner in the Fields events. What was his reaction to the dinner as he and his wife enjoyed the pork and chicken, corn and other vegetables?
“The food was fresh and delicious. Food from the farm has a sweetness to it that you can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “It is easy to appreciate this food.”
Scott Liermann and his family were sitting at one of the long tables next to Wilmington College’s Agriculture Department Dean Dr. Monte Anderson. A senior at Capital University, he was attending the event for the first time.
“It is absolutely positive to see Wilmington College embrace this. This is a great event for the community. It is a way to bring the community together,” Liermann said, motioning to the many guests from all parts of Clinton County and Ohio. “In the end, I think this benefits the college.”
Anderson was asked what having the event at Wilmington College means to the university. “I think it is great. It gives us an opportunity to showcase what we have here. At least 80 percent of our food produced here for the event was grown here,” Anderson said.
“The chickens are ours, the tomatoes, basil, cucumbers. This is just a great venue and we are very happy the event is here. We are happy they thought of us for this year. It is a great crowd here.” He said he hopes the event will be held here again in the future.
Dr. Erica Goodwin of Wilmington College told the guests that the university was pleased to be hosting the event. The agriculture program at the college, she said, is the largest program on the campus. She added it was just one of two in Ohio to offer an agriculture degree.
After the event, Dr. Solomon said the dinner was a successful collaboration between Clinton County Leadership Institute, Wilmington College and the farming community. “It was a lot of hard work, but well worth it to see everyone enjoying themselves,” said Solomon, who is the university’s vice president of Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
As a member of the Leadership Institute, she has attended several of the Dinner of the Fields events in past years. “I think this went really well. There was plenty of food and socializing. People were having fun.”
Dinner in the Fields featured locally sourced appetizers and Ohio wines purchased by the glass. Dinner – cooked on site – featured roasted ears of corn, pork and chicken along with fresh vegetables, breads and ice cream for dessert.
As in the past, dinner was topped off with the Pie/Dessert Auction.
During the dinner, the date and location for the 2017 Dinner in the Fields was announced. The event will be held on the David and Susan Beam farm on Aug. 4.
Developed over 30 years ago based on a model out of Cincinnati, the Clinton County Leadership Institute offered its first Leadership Clinton class in the spring of 1987. Since then programs have expanded to include Leadership Clinton Youth Collaborative, Community Leader Awards, and a partnership with Junior Achievement.