2018 Barn Edition

The Feast of the Fields - 2018 Barn Edition event was held on Saturday, August 25, 2018.



The event was really amazing. It was elegant in just the right way. The barn is amazing with the lights making it so beautiful. You and your sister-in-law were warm and welcoming and beautiful! I LOVED the way the food was explained and served, the table decorations were perfect, with the Radina bread connecting all the way down the tables.

What a special evening, and I’m so thankful David and I were able to attend this year. You deserve a year(s) off, but I hope you will continue your passion in some way in the future. Your talent and love of beauty came through in every way, Mary.

Harpist, EXCELLENT. The way you introduced the FFA group and explained how you all are building leadership was wonderful. Table ware, perfect…simple yet elegant and beautiful. Food and wine pairing was outstanding. Loved the explanation by the chef. The whole event was a demonstration of education as a beautiful part of life, and as you know, Teaching & Learning has been my life’s passion and my lifelong career. You wove it all together. What a way to expand our knowledge of agritourism (not sure on spelling).

You did an excellent job of planning and presenting a very complex evening. Thank you for what you do and how you live your life. You reflect the love of our Lord and His world and nature and His love of people as you gave us nourishment from food and fellowship…..I keep thinking of the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth.” I’m thankful I know you and am more aware of your generational family farm.

— Jana Fallon
Jane and I had a fantastic time last night. One of the best meals ever!!!! Beautiful evening!!

— Wayne Ingmire
Thank you for another great event!! We thoroughly enjoyed our Feast and appreciate all the work you’ve done to make all of the events so special for all of us!! Have a great day!!
— Todd Peterson
Dick and I want to personally thank you and Bob for a spectacular evening. We had never been there before and so enjoyed everything. I cannot imagine what it takes to put this event on. We appreciate all of your efforts and the whole team that made this so special for us. And did you plan the event around a full moon??

— Jane Thiesen
The Feast of the Fields was a fabulous event. The dinner, ambience, and hospitality were all wonderful, and we had such a good time. You must do this again!!!

— Barbara Gatewood
It’s always an incredible magic evening!
— Mimi Balderson
I always feel like I am on a movie set- spectacular setting and delicious food! Thanks for all your hard work!
— Joan Mann
One of the best nights we’ve had! Truly an experience! Thank you to the Mertz Family for hosting it!
— Sarah Tortella
Wonderful event Mary. The setting is gorgeous (I love the barn). The food was out-of-the-world delicious. And, as always, the Host and Hostess were unfailingly gracious. Thank you for a memorable evening!
— John Blair


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.


Mary Mertz
Feast Coordinator
River Creek Farms