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AGSTRAVAGANZA: Fresh Start ready to go

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By Will Phillips

AGstravaganza, a fun, agriculture-education event sponsored by LaRue County Farm Bureau, is looking to be even bigger this year than last, which saw nearly 500 people attend the final dinner and concert. Attending any of the individual farm tours will get you a ticket to the event, where visitors will be able to choose a free meal of either a pork or beef burger. They will also be able to watch the free concert by country up-and-comer J.D. Shelburne.

The final stage of this year’s event will be held in the same place as last year: Fresh Start Farms, owned by Ryan and Misty Bivens. Bivens, who is originally from Taylorsville, but has lived in LaRue County for 10 years, said he’s excited to help promote agriculture in the county.

“[People] are starting to want to know where their food comes from, where their fuel comes from, where clothing comes from, and agriculture is responsible for that,” he said. “And by giving them an idea and a look at that, we hope that they have a better understanding, when they get stuck behind a tractor going down the road, or there’s a farmer stirring up dust or they get a smell they don’t like.”

Bivens became involved in agriculture as a freshman in high school, through an FFA project. He and his wife Misty moved to LaRue County when she got a job as a teacher at LaRue County High School. He said they took an ad out in The LaRue County Herald News that they were looking to lease land and got one response.From that, they’ve built their current operation, which has been recognized by multiple farm publications and just last year garnered Ryan the Farm Bureau National Young Farmer of the Year award.

Now, though, all his focus is on AGstravaganza. And his part is a big one. As the final stop, Fresh Start Farms is likely to see more foot traffic than any of the other participating farms. And although he doesn’t have to give tours of his facilities, Ryan does have to find parking space and accommodations for what is likely to be more than 1,000 visitors – plus a full entourage for J.D. Shelburne.

“Last year, we were shooting in the dark,” he said. “We had an idea of what we wanted to do, but looking back there’s so much we missed out on. I guess you might say [they were] little things, but it all worked out, it all come together. Just because we weren’t experienced doing something like this.”

There are multiple factors that go into planning an event like this, he added.

“It’s total guesswork to what the weather’s going to do, whether you’re gonna have 100 people here, or 1,500 people here. To go with that, I’ve got all these people looking at me, the cattle vendors and pork producers asking, ‘how many people do we have to prepare for?’ And, you know, your guess is as good as mine.”

Ryan went on to say there is far more cleaning to get prepared than people might expect – and he does not profit from the event. He may lose money on the venture.

The bottom line is that AGstravaganza is about education, and that’s where Ryan’s focus is.

“We wanted to create a fun, family event that’s centered around education about agriculture.”

Fresh Start Farms is located at 4109 Sonora Rd in Hodgenville and the gates open at 5 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 270-358-0202.