2018 Barn Edition
The Feast of the Fields - 2018 Barn Edition event was held on Saturday, August 25, 2018.
2018 BARN EDITION - COMMENTS
In 2008, a friend showed me a picture of a meal being served on white linen-clad tables placed in one continuous line…in a cornfield. Nature and elegance combined for a beautiful setting. I knew at that moment that I was going to do try this at my farm. Convincing my husband and in-laws, however, that people would pay for the experience of sitting in a hot, dusty field of grain while eating a chef-prepared four course meal was my first challenge. Fortunately, they let me try. Now eight years and 13 exquisite dinners later, it comes to an end (at least for now).
There are many people to be thanked. This year at our August 25, 2018, Feast of the Fields, Chef Russ Loub, his wife Kelly, and the crew from Little Apple Brewery truly made the grand finale – GRAND!
I appreciated collaborating with them for two meals – June 2017 and this recent one. Both of these were centered around tremendous menus that made for memorable evenings for our participants.
A couple of years into hosting these Feasts, a friend of mine suggested that I contact a woman named Mary Kane who was the Director for the State FFA Officers of Kansas. I inquired as to whether she thought they could be the servers for the meal. It turned out to be a brilliant idea that was a win-win for all. I have met so many wonderful young adults through this working union and I have a renewed sense of hope in our future because of these future leaders.
Daughter Lisa Mertz Berding and “like-a –daughter” Megan Whitesell were priceless help. Not sure which one was my right hand and which was the left, but they both definitely had my back at each event. They kept me sane during some very stressful situations and I couldn’t have continued with these Feasts without their help and their creativity. My husband, Bob, was my rock. He gradually become so accustomed to what needed to be done in advance of our events, that I never had to worry about the heavy, unglamorous work that our Feast’s success so depended upon. I also appreciate my sister-in-law, Kim, who always helped with set-up and ran errands. She and her husband, Joe, shared their roles with our guests each year, making it a truly diversified farm family representation. My nephew, Abram Mertz, was always willing to help me with our website photos and PayPal payment option. I’m blessed to have such a great family.
My late father-in-law and mother-in-law, Harold and Jeanne Mertz, supported these meals from the get-go allowing me to continue hosting them as part of River Creek Farms agritourism. They both believed strongly in advocating for agriculture and saw this as an opportunity to reach an urban demographic with farm education. They are missed but remembered as having inspired so many us to tell our stories in strong and unique ways.
Chef Scott Benjamin, who in 2010 owned and operated Four Olives Restaurant in Manhattan, can be acknowledged as primarily the one that put our Feast of the Fields “on the map.” His philosophy of sourcing locally and his ability to create masterfully and artfully designed courses brought people to our table in 2011 and 2012 capturing the attention of Manhattan Magazine and other press and we are eternally grateful for that.
Those that attended our Feasts through the years were people that enjoy adventure and fine cuisine. People who understood that the weather was in control and our events were always at risk, but who cheerfully registered to sit at the table whether in the cornfield or in the limestone barn. Amazing people from all across the state have experienced one or more of our events. To all of these wonderful individuals, on behalf of the Mertz families of River Creek Farms, I say “Thank You from the bottom of our hearts!”
There is no Feast of the Fields scheduled in 2019. But one must never say never as to whether we will be back at it again. So perhaps our table will be graced with the presence of your excitement and support in future times. We wish you the best and welcome your continued friendship in the years ahead.
River Creek Farms