The beat of Southwest Mississippi
giving Families create Christmas traditions Page 32
From the publisher
Families make Christmas traditions, page 33 Get cooking with Curried Cheese Paté and Ferncliff Pear Chutney
10 5 13
Smith making a joyful noise
Digging in How to watch the holiday diet
Healthy and hardy
Celebrate the holidays with favorites from area vendors
Keep plants going strong
Design - Aimee Romano Photography - Philip Hall
Ready for action Area ushers in holidays
pulse is a publication of J.O. Emmerich
At the pumpkin patch Students spend day searching for a great gourd
Dairy delight Facility is family-owned, operated
Publisher - Jack Ryan Editor - Karen Freeman Advertising Manager - Lauren Devereaux Advertising sales- Debbie Best, Vicky Deere, LeWair Foreman, Lisa Greer, Kimberly Wooley, Sherry L. Williams
Helping out Groups keep holidays bright for needy
an anybody believe that the holiday season already is approaching? Or am I alone in feeling like Thanksgiving and Christmas (and Mardi Gras) were just a few weeks ago? Clearly this is part of the fallout of age. As a youngster, I remember each week of school dragging on and on, the weekend perpetually in the distance. As adults, we have more responsibilities, and less time to get things finished. You look up on a Thursday afternoon and realize there is still a lot more to do before the weekend begins. So it is with the monthly calendar. You look up and it’s time to start thinking about the holidays. It was a horribly hot and dry summer — not too long ago — and then came a soaking-wet hurricane. The weather keeps trying to turn, but the summer warmth remains stubborn, as it always does. Even though life moves more rapidly for adults, it is worth talking to those who find the time to make the holidays special for their families. We found some of them for this edition. God bless them all.
On the cover, Brentley Johnston can’t wait to open a Christmas present.
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Volume 5, Issue 2
Singing a happy tune Pricedale woman shares gift at McComb studio
Sandra Smith gives voice lessons at Letâ€™s Sing Studio in McComb.
Sandra Smith plays piano at the studio.
Smith finds joy in sharing musical talent with others BY KAREN FREEMAN HEN SANDRA Smith sings, she believes she’s returning a gift to God. “When I find myself with my spirit being vexed, if I sing, all that will be released. When I give my problems to the Lord, it’s all
done,” she said. “Music is one of the best things I know.” Smith, 53, of the Mount Canaan community near Pricedale, has been singing since she was 3 years old. After a lifetime of loving music, singing solo or in small groups and choirs, Smith is now sharing her gift by offering voice lessons at her Let’s
Sing Studio in McComb. “My family is very musically inclined. My dad was a musician, my mom sang and my grandfather’s range was from baritone to tenor. My grandmother’s roots are phenomenal musically.” Smith’s not joking. She found out through who now-deceased cousin that her grandmother and
gospel legend Mahalia Jackson were first cousins. Smith’s daughter, Teri Smith of Flowood, pointed out to Sandra the startling resemblance of Mahalia and Smith’s grandmother, Molly Jackson Smith. As it happens, Jackson is one of several musical heroes that Smith admires. Another is Aretha Franklin.
As the only girl in a family of five children born to Oliver and Evelyn Smith, Sandra grew up going to gospel singings held in Pike County. “My mama and daddy would go see the gospel singings in McComb, which was like a lightning rod for traveling gospel singers,” she said. She attended many gospel shows at Booker T. Washington High School, which is now North Pike Middle School. “I saw the Staple Singers with Pops Staples, the Rev. Cleophus Robinson, a lot of singers.” Smith said she can’t imagine a life without music. “I realize how music is a calmer for your life, and it gives you a whole new view of the world,” she said. “Music is that one language that everybody, regardless of where they are in the world, understands. It doesn’t have to have words. Just the music.” Smith has shared her music with others countless times. And for 15 years, she was the administrative assistant at Blackberry Records, owned by local gospel greats The Williams Brothers. She now works at State Bank in McComb, but music is always on the tip of her tongue.
Let’s Sing Studio’s Sandra Smith, right, gives vocal lessons to student Sokhen Smith.
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Sandra Smith smiles during a singing lesson at Let’s Sing Studio.
“People can say just a word and a song will come to me,” she said. Over the years, she’s had requests to give voice lessons, but she never did. “There were always people who would come up and ask me when I was going to give lessons.” She believes God led her to the decision. Smith remembers being at the Chevron station on Delaware Avenue and feeling led by the Holy Spirit to park in a certain spot. But she ignored the hint and parked elsewhere. Out of the blue, a girl she had never met before walked over to her and asked if she gave singing lessons. “I told her it looks like I’m going to have to start. Give me your name,” Smith recalled, noting that the young woman told her she had heard Smith sing at a church in Liberty. “She said she could sing but wanted to be better.” After that encounter, Smith said she had made her decision. After leasing space from owners of Bramlett Real Estate on Michigan Avenue in McComb, she opened for business a couple of months ago. That decision, too, was spirit-led. “The Lord led me here,” she said. “I knew I had to have a place, and I kept passing by. This building drew me.”
She knew the owners through working at State Bank, and it all fell together. Smith offers 30-minute lessons once a week for $100 per month, and works on a monthto-month basis. She’s signed up three students and has a list of others who are interested but haven’t committed. Through lessons, students learn voice projection, breathing, vocal control, ear training, pitch and music basics. “Anybody who has a voice has the potential to sing,” she said. “It just takes real work. You have to train that ear, and sometimes it has to be noteby-note until you get each one. Smith said her daughter also loves music and singing. “Because of her bloodline, it took just a little while for training,” Smith said. “It’s not so with everybody. But once the ear is trained, it’s easy.” Smith doesn’t need accompaniment when she sings; she especially enjoys singing without instruments or background music. “God gave me the gift to sing a cappella,” she said. “This has to be born in you or trained in you. You have to know where to start and end, not too high. It can be trying.” After Smith graduated from high school at North Pike, she moved to Flint, Mich., where she studied at University of Michigan. After a year, she moved to San Francisco, where she stayed for four years, and attended City College. She returned home in 1980. She attends East Fernwood Baptist Church, pastored by the Rev. Jimmy Wilson, and it’s rare that she misses a service or chance to make a joyful noise.
Still, she gets a little nervous before performances. “My daddy told me, ‘When you get up to sing, don’t look anybody in the eyes. Find a spot on the wall and lock your eyes on that until you’re comfortable. Then you can eyeball everybody,’ ” she said. “Give me the first stanza, then I’m on.” For those who want to have trained voices, Smith has a few words of advice: Sing every day. “I tell people you need to sing something every day. Sing along with the radio,” she said. “I tell people, ‘I can teach you how to sing, but the vocal part, you’ve got to do.’ ” Other advice is common sense. Singers shouldn’t smoke or drink a lot of acidic beverages or a lot of caffeine. Don’t drink milk products before singing; they produce phlegm. She suggests drinking lemon water or hot decaffeinated tea. Smith said she’s seen progress in her students in the short time she’s been giving lessons in the studio, which is under the umbrella of Smith’s My Time Ministries. “I enjoy the lessons, and I’m so proud of my students, even in a month and a half,” she said, adding that she’ll be presenting them in recital in the spring. Sharing music is second nature to Smith by now, and she has goals of her own. “I want to sing to reach the masses and to touch people’s lives and see them changed and transformed,” she said. “I want to see people saved because I know what God has given me. I given it back every time I open my mouth. I want to live a life that’s pleasing to God. My integrity means everything to me.”
“I want to see people saved because I know what God has given me. I give it back every time I open my mouth. I want to live a life that’s pleasing to God. My integrity means everything to me.” — Sandra Smith, Let’s Sing Studio
Turn the focus to holiday planning LOVE THIS time of year. There is a chill in the air; holiday plans are being made, and it is time to fill freezers with appetizers and side dishes to serve with holiday entrees. As I begin to prepare for festive holiday events, my mind always turns to the home that my late husband Colville and I built in Biloxi. My large, spacious kitchen at Ferncliff was built for comfort and cooking — lots of counter space, a huge sink and a very large gas cooking top. There were tall antique pine cabinets, old raised paneled nine-foot doors, and beautiful antique heart pine floors. The absolute black granite tops could easily be wiped clean of any spills on their surfaces. Huge copper vent-a-hoods hung over the cooking top and the grilling station. Our guests were happiest when they were seated on stools around the kitchen island, while I cooked. It was a joyous space, and one that Colville and I enjoyed immensely. Great memories were made in ANN that kitchen — ones I will always cherish. JACKSON There were three huge pear trees surrounding the tennis court at Ferncliff. Every fall, the trees’ limbs would be dripping with CLEAN their glorious chartreuse-colored fruit. I loved to reach up and snap off a pear and bite into PLATES its luscious meat. There is really nothing like the taste of freshly picked pears. They are a great accompaniment to many meats, especially pork, and they also work wonderfully in desserts and appetizers. As soon as the pears were at their correct stage of ripeness, I would make a call to my friend Sharon White to alert her that it was time for her to make a trip to Ferncliff for a few days. Sharon would pack clothes, her big preserving pot, funnels, tongs, and other preserving tools and head south to Biloxi. Meanwhile, I would make a trip to the grocery to pick up canning jars of different sizes and shapes. The afternoon she arrived we would take large baskets to the trees and fill them to their brim with pears to be made into one of our favorite relishes — pear chutney. The next morning, we would cook the pears, mix in the spices, sterilize the jars and fill them with the delicious mixture.
Continued on page 12 Fall-Winter Issue
Continued from page 11 As we stewed and stirred, we talked of the many ways we would be using our bounty . Of course some of the jars would be given as Christmas gifts, but many would be kept in our own pantries, because there is not much that Sharon and I like better than homemade pear chutney! Colville was always nearby tasting our mixture to be certain we had not left out an important ingredient. He would be dreaming of his much-loved curried cheese paté topped with our chutney and of the chutney accompanying his favorite dish, a roasted leg of lamb. After the chutney-filled jars had cooled, we would pack them back into the compartments in each box, put Sharon’s in her car, and mine in the pantry to await being decorated with holiday ribbons to be given to special friends at Christmas. We always attached a recipe for Ferncliff Pear Chutney. The chutney proved to be a favored gift for my friends who looked
forward to receiving a jar each year. Now, if I just had some of those pear trees loaded with fruit, my Christmas list would be easy. But, not to worry, I will think of something this year.
CURRIED CHEESE PATÉ 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 2 cups grated sharp cheddar, room temperature 7 tablespoons sherry 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon lemon pepper 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning Topping: 1 (8-ounce) jar chutney (preferably your own homemade) Non-cooks may use Major Grey’s 1/2 cup chopped peanuts 1/2 cup chopped green onions 1/2 cup grated coconut (optional) Cream cheeses with sherry, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Line an 8-inch cake or pie pan with plastic wrap.
Fill with cheese mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill four hours. (Can be frozen at this point. Defrost at room temperature before garnishing.) Unmold paté on a large platter. Garnish in layers with chutney, peanuts, green onions and coconut. Serve with crackers of your choice. May be refrigerated up to three days. This is a wonderful easy appetizer that you can make ahead of the holidays. Just freeze, defrost and garnish. It is always a hit at parties!
FERNCLIFF PEAR CHUTNEY 4 quarts peeled and chopped pears 1 cup raisins 1 cup (1 large) chopped onion 3 cups brown sugar (I prefer dark rather than light, but either will do) 1/4 cup mustard seeds 1 jar crystallized ginger (If desperate, you may use 2 tablespoons ground ginger) 2 teaspoons salt 1 clove garlic, minced
1 red hot pepper, minced (more if desired) 5 cups white vinegar (5% strength) This recipe may be doubled or more, but be sure to cook batches separately, or they will take forever to thicken! Combine all ingredients in large, heavy pot. Bring to boil, lower heat to strong simmer and cook slowly until thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving one-half inch headspace. Wipe rims with a hot clean cloth. Immediately place 2-piece lids on jars and allow to cool. They should seal. You’ll hear a “pop” as they do. They may also be processed in a boiling hot water bath — 10 minutes for pints or 5 minutes for half pints. (Half pints make great gifts.) If lids do not seal, chutney may be refrigerated for two to three months. Use on Curried Cheese Paté or serve with roast pork, turkey, or chicken. Delicious served on cream cheese with crackers.
Diggingin Experts offer tips for healthy holiday
BY KAREN FREEMAN T’S THE SEASON of holiday parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas decorating and shopping for gifts. And it’s the time of year when rich foods and tempting sweets show up everywhere — in the break room at the office, at club meetings and at holiday dinners. Indulge once or twice, and a healthy eating rhythm maintained all year can hit the skids. Experts say it’s OK to enjoy holiday foods that folks may otherwise pass by — but sparingly. That piece of pecan pie may look and taste delicious, but remember: A single fourounce serving (1/8 of a 9-inch pie) can have more than 500 calories and a whopping 40 grams of fat.
Opting for too many poor food choices can throw a diet off-course and spell bad news for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association says planning ahead is the way to enjoy holiday food and stay healthy. The ADA suggests the following seven tips to guide diabetes patients through a holiday event. • FOCUS on friends and family instead of food. Remember, the holidays are a time to slow down and catch up with your loved ones. Play games, volunteer, or spend time outdoors enjoying the winter weather together. • IT’S a party, but don’t overdo it. Eat slowly, and really enjoy the foods that you may only have once a year. If the meal will be served near your usual meal time, try to eat the same amount of carbohydrates that you normally would for a meal. If you plan
to have a portion of dessert, cut back on another carbohydrate food during the main course. Make sure your portions are reasonable and resist going back for second helpings. • EAT before you eat. Don’t skip meals or snacks earlier in the day to “save” calories and carbs for the large holiday feast later on. If you skip meals, it will be harder to keep your blood glucose in control. Also, if you arrive somewhere hungry, you will be more likely to overeat. • BRING what you like. Don’t spend time worrying about what will be served. Offer to bring your favorite diabetes-friendly dish. It could be a low-sugar or low-fat version of recipe. If you count carbs, check your recipe’s nutrition facts so you know how big a serving is and how many carbs it has.
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Continued from page 13 • DRINK in moderation. If you drink alcohol, remember to eat something beforehand to prevent low blood glucose levels later. Whether it’s a glass of eggnog or red wine, holiday drinks can add a significant amount of calories to your holiday intake. Keep it to no more than 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men. • STAY ACTIVE. One reason that we have problems managing diabetes and weight during the holidays is our lack of physical activity. Sure, the holidays are busy, but plan time into each day for exercise and don’t break your routine. Make the holidays an active time! Off from work or school? Use this extra time to do some physical activity. It could be training for and participating in a local holiday run or walk, or starting a game of pick-up football in the yard. Just bundling up and going for a walk with your loved ones after eating a holiday dinner is a good exercise. • OFFER to help clean up af-
ter a meal instead of sitting in front of leftover food. This will help you avoid snacking on it and get you moving around. Perhaps the most important advice is to get back on track if you overindulge. If you eat more carbs or food than you planned for, don’t think you have failed.
eating habits the next day. Duke University nutritionist Heidi Scarsella says the key to keeping holiday eating in check is balance and being aware of food intake. Scarsella suggests following these guidelines to keep pounds from piling on. • BALANCE Your Meals:
Off from work or school? Use this extra time to do some physical activity. It could be training for and participating in a local holiday run or walk, or starting a game of pick-up football in the yard. Just going for a walk is a good exercise. Stop eating for the night and focus on spending the rest of your time with the people around you. Include extra exercise, monitor your blood glucose levels, and get back to your usual
Don’t fill your plate with only rich, high-calorie food. Instead, have a little of everything, but be sure to include lots of fruit and vegetables. That way, you’ll still be able to enjoy your
favorite holiday foods as well as receive an array of important, healthful nutrients. • BE CAUTIOUS of Sugary Foods: Remember that rich, sugary foods have a way of making you crave even more rich and sugary foods. If you do have a craving for something sweet, try to satisfy it with a piece of fruit or a bit of dark chocolate, or take half a serving of that piece of pie that you just can’t resist. • STOCK UP on Healthy Snacks: Planning ahead is the best way to choose healthy foods. When you go shopping, be sure to pick up some healthy snacking items. Keep plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand, such as carrots, celery, and apples; these can make a quick and easy snack in times when you feel tempted. • BE ASSERTIVE: Don’t feel you must say yes to everyone who offers you something to eat or drink. If you are not hungry, then just say so. Don’t let yourself be pressured into eating something that you really don’t want.
Keep plants going strong during winter BY MEGAN HUCKABY ARDENING is an art form. It takes a special kind of person to keep all of that delicate foliage alive during the most pristine conditions. So what do you do when the conditions are less than ideal, such as in the winter time? There are many tips and tricks, some even specific to the Pike County area that can help get your beautiful plants, trees and shrubs ready to endure the cooler temperatures of winter. With every category of gardening, whether it be vegetable gardening, flower gardening or rose gardening, there is one step that rings true â€” clean up the beds. Cleaning the beds prevents fungus and disease from taking over during the cold season, said Diane Nobles, president of the Pike County Master Gardeners.
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Splendid colored mums put on a show at Plunkettâ€™s Farm Supply and Greenhouse in Monticello.
“Trees and shrubs can be planted year round, but the ideal time is fall.” — Michelle Plunkett, nursery owner
Master Gardener Diane Nobles offers tips on how to keep gardens going strong all winter.
Continued from page 15 Michelle Plunkett of Plunkett’s Farm Supply and Greenhouse in Monticello agrees and said it’s especially true for roses. Black spot can become a problem if the mulch is not replaced, she said. Perennials also need to be trimmed back. Once that first step is completed, fall plants can be added to the decor. “We have fall flowers (available), and mums are really pretty,” Nobles said. Mums are a fall favorite for many because they add a variety of bright colors to fall garden p lantings. And many people use mums alongside their pumpkins and scarecrows for fun fall scenes. When it’s time to take the fall scene down, mums can be counted on to offer beauty annually. “They will come back every year,” she said. According to a fact sheet prepared by David Yarborough, another Master Gardener, fall is a good time to plant shrubs and evergreens. Planting now allows the roots to become established.
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Mums, like these at Plunkett’s Farm Supply & Greenhouse, are a fall staple.
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Continued from page 16 Plunkett also agrees with planting trees and shrubs before the first frost. “Trees and shrubs can be planted year round, but the ideal time is fall,” she said. Gardeners also are encouraged to get a soil sample test. Grab a sample kit from the Pike County Extension Office in Magnolia to
get started. The Extension office will send the sample to Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, and after it’s tested, MSU will send gardeners a read-out that tells gardeners what types of flowsers and shurbs to plant and the best place for them. Nobles said some plants like the ground to be more acidic; and some like it more basic.
Deep Purple: These pansies stand out in t he drab days of winter.
The acidity can even affect the color of some flowers. But experts advise gardeners not to turn all of their attention toward the flower beds, though. That lush, green lawn also needs care before the first frost in early- to mid-November, Nobles said. Before the frost hits, give the yard a nice hair cut. Donâ€™t cut it too short, though; this can kill the grass. Nobles recommends a light fertilizer. She also thinks it is a good idea to take a soil sample from the lawn too. Once the yard is nice and manicured, it is ready to wait out the cold. Even those pesky leaves that fall can be of use. â€œLeaves are a good natural mulch,â€? Nobles said. Take the leaves and put them in a pile. After they have become a little rotten, grind them up and use them as mulch.
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Continued from page 19 Mulch is important in the winter because it insulates the bed and holds in moisture. Gardeners who don’t want to bother with the leaves can find other mulches that come in a variety of colors to spice up the flower bed. When the front yard and flower beds look great, what should be done to keep a vegetable garden going in the fall? In addition to cleaning out the bed, tilling and then planting cover crops such as clover or vetch can add organic matter in the spring, Plunkett said. “Be mindful of how prolific the vetch can grow,” she said. Now, the only thing left to do is to get up and go do some yard work. Mississippi State offers Master Gardener classes for certification through the Extension office. The program involves 40 hours of class time, plus service hours and continuing education. For more information about becoming a Master Gardener, contact the Pike Extension office at 783-5321.
Pansies are hardy winter plants.
Fall Gardening Tips • FIRST AND FOREMOST, clean up the bed. Any dead annuals left over from the summer need to be removed along with any weeds. • PERENNIALS need to be trimmed back and any dead or diseased parts need to be removed. Then plant new perennials. • ORNAMENTAL grasses can be left alone until early February because they add to the landscape during winter. • MULCH beds with pine bark or pine straw. • PROTECT temperennials and somewhat tropical plants that
might survive if the winter isn’t too harsh. • PLANTS such as snapdragons can be planted now to give a beautiful spring show. • TREES and shrubs don’t require as much attention. Don’t prune or fertilize in the fall; that promotes new growth that will just get damaged by freezing temperatures. The plants must be ready to go dormant. • TRIM away any dead or diseased wood. • PLANT new trees or shrubs. Fall is the ideal time for this because it
allows the roots to become established. They also benefit from the rains before the drought sets in. • THE LAWN might need some fertilizer with a winterizing agent. This will help the lawn be hardier through the winter and get a good start in the spring. • SEND a soil sample to be tested through the extension service. This lets you know what needs to be done to keep your grass as green as ever. Yards need to have low nitrogen and higher potassium. Lime is best added in the fall to reduce the acidity of the soil.
Lola Holifield, Operation Christmas Child McComb area coordinator, holds shoeboxes filled with gifts for needy children.
Operation Christmas Child spreads holiday cheer BY RANDY HAMMONS PERATION Christmas Child is not just an organization that cranks up during the holiday season to help needy children around the world. Quite the opposite. Operation Christmas Child is a nationwide organization whose team members work full-time to fill shoeboxes with various items for children between the ages of 2 and 14. Shoeboxes are then collected and shipped to designated points around the world. Summit’s Lola Holifield is the area team coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. She oversees operations in Pike, Amite, Adams, Franklin, Lawrence, Lincoln, Walthall and Wilkinson counties, and she manages a team of 40. Shoebox collection dates are Nov. 12-19. Boxes are filled with school supplies, toys, clothing and personal hygiene items. The new collection site is 1014 Apache Drive in McComb — the Brookhaven District Mission Center of United Methodist Church. Boxes will be shipped from there to Atlanta and then sent on for world-wide distribution. Operation Christmas Child began in 1993 under the direction of evangelist Franklin Graham and his umbrella Samaritan’s Purse relief organization.
“Man, my knees are killing me!” “Hey, don’t lean on my sore shoulder.” “Did you see number 29 pulverize my head?”
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Continued from page 23 Graham saw the opportunity to spread the gospel around the world through the boxes. “Last year, 13,119 boxes were sent out from our area. Nationally, it was 8.2 million,” Holifield said. “Every year it grows a little bit. This year we’re hoping for close to 14,000 boxes to be sent out. The national goal is 100 million boxes.” Holifield said children in Togo, West Africa, received shoe boxes from the local organization. “Most of the boxes will go to kids who will not get anything else during the holidays,” Holifield said. “And (sending boxes) is an opportunity for the organization to get its foot in the countries. We call it the seed to get started in that particular country.”
Along with the shoe box, a religious pamphlet is attached to the top of the box. Suggested shipping price is $7 per box. Holified, who became involved with the organization 14 years ago, recently traveled to Peru to help distribute the boxes. “This is something I’m very passionate about,” she said. “Giving shoe boxes in other countries is like giving a pastor here $1 million to go out. It has totally doubled the size of the church where the boxes go. It also brings hospitals into the area.” Holifield said anyone can pack boxes — “anyone who has a heart for children.” Along with Operation Christmas Child, local volunteer organizations designed to assist the less fortunate include St. Andrew’s Mission, the Salvation Army and the McComb Interdenominationl Care Association.
Every year it grows a little bit. This year we’re hoping for close to 14,000 boxes to be sent out. The national goal is 100 million boxes.” – Lola Holifield
Fruit cups sit ready to be served at St. Andrew’s Mission soup kitchen, SAM’S Diner.
From left: LaDonna Cochran, Tonya Hooks, Darla Roberts, Lance Mize, Marcia Leonard, Mike Faust, Nicole DiGiovanni & Anne Johnson
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ST. ANDREW’S MISSION Mission executive director Ed Codding said the organization’s children’s toy drive has been a big hit for needy children in the area. “Last year we provided toys for 180 children that probably wouldn’t have had Christmas without it,” Codding said. The program is supported through a local radio station and funding is derived from the Toys for Tots Golf Tournament, which provides bicycles to children. Parents fill out forms requesting assistance, which is based on need. Household income and the number of children in the family also are taken into consideration. “It’s a very worthy cause,” Codding said. “Without this type of program (needy children) wouldn’t have a Christmas.” The mission also operates SAM’S Diner, open for lunch on Mondays and Fridays. Applications for the 2012 Toys for Tots campaign must be completed by Nov. 30. Applications are available at St. Andrew’s at 615 Pennsylvania Ave., in McComb. Call 250-6830 for more information.
SALVATION ARMY The Salvation Army is famous for its volunteer bell ringers with their distinctive red kettles during the holidays. “The holiday season is one of our busiest because that is our bell-ringing season,” said Brenda Kates, McComb Salvation Army business manager.
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From the left, Joshua Rayner, Joel Steele and Clark Simmons work at the SAM’s Diner, the St. Andrew’s Mission soup kitchen.
Kaye Alexander poses for a portrait at the soup kitchen.
Continued from page 25 “Most residents are very much aware of that when they see the bell ringers in front of Walmart, McComb Market, Edgewood Mall and Kroger. They know what that means.” Kates said the local Salvation Army typically begins collecting donations the day after Thanksgiving. “For us, the holiday season means volunteers,” Kates said. “The McComb Salvation Army tries to remain all-volunteer. Staffing four locations means 32 volunteers are needed to work eight-hour shifts. “Over the years the Salvation Army has been blessed with volunteers within our community who have supported us with their time. This year is no exception,” Kates said. “We’re asking for volunteers to help us help someone else.”
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At left, the Salvation Army is known for its holiday bellringing and kettle drive â€” the agencyâ€™s main fundraising effort. Above, Charlotte Little, Lillie Kollie, MICA president Rick Penick and Jerry Calhoun box food for recipients of food pantry items.
Lillie Kollie collects food for recipients at MICA in McComb.
Continued from page 27 The Salvation Army is funded in part through United Givers. During other times of the year, Kates said citizens can volunteer working in the Salvation Army Thrift Store as a laborer or receptionist. “Whatever the skill set, we can find a volunteer position for you,” Kates said. To volunteer, call Kates at 249-0131.
“People give more during the holidays and that’s when we stock up,” MICA Director Gerald Calhoun said. “This is a temporary food outlet where people can get food until they can enough food stamps or get back on the job. People always give more around Thanksgiving on. They are more aware of the needs.” Calhoun has been with MICA since it opened 25 years ago. The pantry has 20 volunteers. Calhoun said approximately 250 families use MICA’s services monthly. MICA’s governing board is made up of 36 area churches. Pantry hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Call MICA at 6841969.
“This is a temporary food outlet where people can get food until they can enough food stamps or get back on the job. People always give more around Thanksgiving on. They are more aware of the needs.”
McComb Interdenominational Care Association sponsors a food pantry for citizens who, for any number of reasons, can’t provide for themselves. The pantry, located at 126 N. 5th St., is open year-round, but donations pick up during the holiday season.
— Gerald Calhoun
From left, Lillie kollie, Charlotte Little, Bill Farrell, Jerry Calhoun, Regina Sinclair, president Rick Penick and Dan Bowden volunteer at the McComb Interdenominational Care Association in McComb.
Holiday spirit Families aim to stay on budget, keep Christmas bright, page 34
Front row, from left, are Breah Johnston, Brentley Johnston, Jay Alldredge, Duran Johnston; second row, Amy Alldredge and Leona Johnston are shown at Amy Alldredgeâ€™s home in Summit.
All in the
The long family includes, from left, front row, Brian, Eric, Andrew and Matthew Long; second row, Rachel, Lynette, Lily, Allison and Sarah Long; back row, Justin, Jason and Mark Long.
Celebrating traditions BY RHONDA DUNAWAY EEPING a generous spirit for the Christmas Holidays during hard economic times can be a challenge, no matter what your income level is, because it seems that everyone these days is feeling the need to pinch pennies. In times like these, everyone wants to be careful spending, but not giving gifts at all during Christmas just doesnâ€™t feel right. Families these days are making Christmas more about togetherness and the birth of Jesus Christ, but are still making sure the little ones have a good Christmas. Amy Alldredge of Summit has a large extended family that loves to get together for
K Opening presents at Christmas is half the fun for many children.
Brightly wrapped packages and sparkling ribbon and tree ornaments make every Christmas bright.
birthdays and special occasions, but Christmas time is especially fun for the kids. She said she and her in-laws make sure the kids have a good Christmas. “Isn’t buying for the kids the reason we do it anyway?” Alldredge said. “To watch them enjoying their gifts, that’s what we’re getting together for,” she said. Her mother-in-law, Vicky Johnson, said the families’ giftgiving ideas have changed over the years as the family has grown. “Used to every year at Thanksgiving dinner, the adults would draw names,” Johnson said. “And we would all buy for the kids. But now, there’s so many kids we just decided we wouldn’t draw names for the adults this year, we’d only buy for the kids.” Johnson said they were supposed to do that in 2011, but a few family members snuck in little “happies.” That made the others obligated to get little happies also, and there again was the pressure of buying gifts for everyone.
“This year,” Johnson said to her daughter-in-law, “No happies! Ha!” “Agreed!” Alldredge returned with a burst of guilty laughter. “I pinky promise.” “Really, though,” Johnson said, “Since the economy is bad, it really does take a lot of the
McComb have 11 children and four grandsons. The Longs love being with the kids, a good thing considering there must be a kid at every turn in their home. “It’s crazy good around our house around Christmas time. Ha! As one could imagine,” Lynette said.
“Used to every year at Thanksgiving dinner, the adults would draw names. And we would all buy for the kids. But now, there’s so many kids we just decided we wouldn’t draw names for the adults this year, we’d only buy for the kids.” — Vicky Johnson stress out of the holidays to not have to worry about getting each other gifts and just worry about getting for the kids.” Lynette and Mark Long of
“We get together and have Christmas dinner,” she said. “They get super excited about having a big meal, and we make cornbread dressing together, that’s everyone’s favorite for
Christmas dinner.” Lynette said the family used to play Secret Santa for gift-giving, but between her family and her sister’s family, they decided only to get gifts for the youngest children, and they set a price limit on that, too. “My sister has nine kids, so that got to be way too much for both of us,” she said. Long said the older kids understand that it’s about Christ and the family being together. “We always go to Mass on Christmas Eve at St. Alphonsus,” she said. “And Christmas Day, it’s about spending the day together.” Dr. Michael Artigues and wife Trisha of Liberty have six children. Trisha said she feels a lot luckier than other families who may be struggling more than hers. She said she tries to keep the season about the birth of Christ and the spirit of giving. “This year we are going to do something a little different,” Trisha said.
Continued on page 36 Fall-Winter Issue
Continued from page 35 She explained that as more children come along and others are growing up, it has been their time together as a family that she wanted to be “the gift from Santa.” This year, she and the kids will spend time together in the kitchen baking treats to give away to friends, family and neighbors. It’s something she and the kids have done before and the kids loved it. “During Advent I made a list of people, like friends and neighbors, and we make everyone a batch of baked goodies,” Trisha said. “Then we deliver them. The kids really love doing that. It’s just a little something to let people know you’re thinking about them, and a way to bless somebody else. And, it doesn’t cost very much. We try to keep it about our Savior.” As for gifts from Santa, the Artigues family used to have a gift from St. Nick under the tree for each child. Plus, there would be one from mom and dad and a gift from each grandparent.
What will this surprise be? All families have their own gift-giving traditions. “But the kids also have always done something for each other — they would draw names among themselves and those gifts would go under the tree too,” Artigues said.
Their new tradition will give the family the gift of time — to bond and to make new memories. “This year, we are taking a trip instead of having gifts from
Santa,” Artigues said. “Our trip together is going to be Santa’s gift. Our focus was never on the things they were getting.” Artigues said the destination is going to be a surprise.
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Area ushering in holidays
Brenda Burrough waves during the Summit Christmas parade as she holds a holiday-outfitted rescue dog, Lenna, who was adopted from the PALS shelter in Pike County.
Santa throws candy to the waiting crowd at the Osyka Christmas Parade.
Events celebrate joy of holidays BY GAIL JANOTTA T’S DIFFICULT to believe summer is over and the holidays are almost upon us. The holiday season means it’s time to prepare for a flurry of activities and festivities — from finding that perfect turkey for a Thanksgiving feast or selecting a gift to bring a sparkle to a child’s eyes on Christmas morning. McComb and surrounding towns celebrate the season with hometown charm or opt for spectacular lights and sights. This year, Magnolia gets the holiday season rolling with its annual Christmas parade at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30. McComb’s parade will be held the next morning. The annual McComb Christmas Parade is 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 and is sponsored by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. Chamber program director Tammy Menard said the parade is always a huge success.
“This year’s theme is ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas,’ ” Menard said. “Every year we have over 100 cars, trucks, horses, motorcycles, bands and floats. A favorite of the kids is dancing with the bands and getting candy thrown from floats, and of course, seeing Santa Claus.” Judges are selected from surrounding counties who vote and select the top float, car and truck. For entry forms, visit the chamber office. Sign-up is Oct. 29 through Nov. 29. “That gives us an entire month to find out who has applied to be in the parade and get things organized and ready to roll,” Menard said. Entry fee is $25. Parade lineup is 9:30 a.m. and begins at North Railroad Boulevard and ends on Delaware Avenue and gay Street. The Summit Christmas Parade is Monday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. Suzanne Womble, owner on Girls Gone Junkin,’ partnered with Summit’s Chamber of Commerce organizing the parade. “The Summit parade has always been known as one of the really good parades around the area,” said Womble. “We always do the parade on Monday following the Saturday parade in McComb. That way, floats can stay up and be used in our parade.”
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Anna Bruce, left, and Rachel Hodges sing as toddler Justin Bruce takes in the lights of the McComb Christmas tree at the 2011 Night of Lights, presented by the McComb Main Street Association.
Continued from page 43 “The Summit parade has always been known as one of the really good parades around the area,” said Womble. “We always do the parade on Monday following the Saturday parade in McComb. That way, floats can stay up and be used in our parade.” Womble said the community favors the late parade time. “It is just something about having the parade at night,” Womble said. “It really gets you in the spirit of Christmas.” She said actress Aunjanue Ellis of Magnolia and Miss Ole Miss Margaret Ann Morgan, of McComb, have been invited to be grand marshals. Womble said kids usually line the streets of Summit waiting to see Santa. “The Summit Fire Department truck always brings in Santa at the end of the parade,” she said. “The kids just love it. We want to thank the fire department for all their help.” Womble said bands from Southwest Mississippi Community College, North Pike and McComb high schools are al-
McComb policeman Michael Roberts and his son, ‘fireman’ Sullivan Roberts, watch as a float goes by in the McComb parade. ways a favorite. Other towns, from small to smaller, have parades — Gloster, Osyka, Centreville, Gillsburg, Liberty, and the Thompson community. The City of McComb will again feature its annual Night of Lights, when the downtown Christmas tree is lit. The event will begin at 7:15 p.m. on Nov. 25
at the Railroad Depot Pavilion. The McComb Main Street Association’s Libba Alford said, “The lighting of the Christmas tree has been a favorite of downtown for several years now. It is always scheduled on a Sunday night following church services. Folks can go to church and then come out and enjoy the lights.” Alford said the program lasts
about 20 minutes with music from the Southwest Mississippi Community College choir. Hot apple cider is available. “This is such a huge event for downtown,” said Alford. Through all the hustle and bustle of shopping, local churches help to remind folks the true meaning of Christmas in song with Christmas cantatas. A favorite of all for several years was the Singing Christmas Tree performed by the McComb First Baptist Church choir. Music ministry assistant director Jane Wilkinson said some things must be improved before the show will be staged again. “We had the singing tree until about two years ago and had some lighting issues,” she said. “We have some things to upgrade before we can continue with the singing Christmas tree.” The choir will perform its cantata “Christmas Coming Home” this year. Church members are writing skits and will perform the musical, which will be in an old country home setting.
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A leaping reindeer display at Pike National Bank on Rawls Drive, McComb, is part of a traditional dazzling array of lighted scenes.
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Gene Sharkey of HartmanSharkey Funeral Home of McComb shows off the memorial Christmas tree and ornaments at the funeral home.
“You know sometimes people just forget the real meaning of Christmas,” Wilkinson said. “We will have skits and a lot of older Christmas songs in the performance.” Wilkinson said Andrew Dale wrote the cantata with help from other church members, along with Kathy Alford. “Kathy has helped with writing the skits and has really helped Andrew bring everything to life,” Wilkinson said. The cantata will feature an orchestra and children’s choir performing at 6 p.m. Dec. 9. Under the direction of music director, Christopher Hart, Centenary United Methodist Church adult choir will perform “Celebrate the Season” at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 16. Performing with the adult church choir will be the children’s choir, soloists and seven University of Southern Mississippi music students, who will play various instruments. “Our program each year has a great turnout,” Hart said.
“This is my fourth year here, and this year we are reaching back and doing a cantata the church did a few years back and one that everyone really enjoyed,” Hart said. “This is something that is always very inspirational to our church. It’s an opportunity for the choir to lead the worship service, and that is a treat for us. We, as a choir, don’t look at it as a performance, but a chance to worship.” Christmas wouldn’t be the same without lights. And one of the most inspirational lighting spectacles anywhere is Christmas In the Park at Holmes Water Park in Tylertown. For the past 13 years, thousands of people from Tylertown and the surrounding towns have driven to see a multitude of lights in the massive display. Christmas in the Park is an annual event sponsored by the Walthall County Chamber of Commerce. It’s open from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Nov. 22 and runs through New Year’s Eve. Christmas in the Park is one of the area’s largest community events of its kind.
“The park has always created a lot of traffic into our community,” said Tylertown Mayor Ed Hughes. “We feel it’s the best attraction around. It’s definitely been a huge positive for Tylertown economically.” Families packed in cars, vans or trucks slowly drive the winding Holmes Water Park lane, taking in a winter wonderland of lighted scenes. This year, organizers are experimenting with a new way of observing the lights. On Wednesday, Nov, 21, for one night only, visitors may exit their vehicles and walk through. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children and free for children 3 and under that day. Hot chocolate and cookies will be available for $1. Santa Claus will be on hand for snapshots with kids. And on Nov. 16-17, Tylertown’s Union Baptist Church is having a fall bazaar. Visitors can ride a trailer through the park. Admission to this two-day event is $5 for a trailer ride and $3 for children.
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Walthall County’s Christmas in the Park at Holmes Water Park draws hordes of visitors each year for a driving tour through a winter wonderland of Christmas scenes and surprises.
Continued from page 47 It’s free for children 3 and younger. “In the early years when we first started out, we allowed visitors to walk through the park,” Hughes said. “But it required so many volunteers and a lot of manpower, so we eventually stopped doing it. We are fortunate to have such wonderful volunteers that spend many hours helping to make Christmas in the Park a success. This year is no different.” On Thanksgiving Day until New Year’s Eve, visitors will only be allowed to view the lights from their vehicles. “Back when we first started, we had a non-denominational church service, served hot cider and cookies and visitors walked the grounds,” said Alisa Leggett. “But it’s pretty dark in the park and we don’t want anyone getting hurt.” The park also offers family members the opportunity to pur-
chase a lighted poinsettia in memory or in honor of a loved one. The cost is $75. “When you pay at the gate, everyone is given a brochure of the park and a list of all memorials and honorariums,” said Reeves. Also available for purchase are collectible ornaments for $16 and a shipping fee. “It is a really nice collectible ornament,” Reeves said. “It’s good for those folks that you really don’t know what to get. It’s a nice traditional gift.” Admission to Christmas in the Park is $5 for cars, $10 for vans and trucks and $20 for passenger buses. For more information, contact Alisa Reeves at 222-2405. Another family-oriented holiday tradition kids enjoy is the Thanksgiving puppet show and storyhour led by children’s librarian Mattie Rials at the McComb Library, which will begin at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Rials took a break from the puppet show the last two years but decided it was time to bring it back. “Sometimes things just need a little break,” she said. “I just felt and knew this year was the right time to bring the puppet show back. This has been a huge success for many years. “After all the turkey has been eaten, there isn’t really much for the kids or adults to do the rest of the day. This is something that the entire family can come out and enjoy doing together,” Rials said. “I love to see the little ones, along with their parents and grandparents, just enjoying an afternoon together.” Rials is a one-person show with the puppets. “I just use two puppets where I can do it myself. I also do all the voices,” she said. “During the show, sometimes we do skits and sing lots of songs that get the audience truly involved.” This year’s theme is “The Gingerbread Man.” “The Gingerbread Man is a story that even the youngest can relate to,” Rials said. “It’s just a big party up here when everyone gets together. Kids are growing up so fast and today things are different. We want to be sure good stories like ‘The Gingerbread Man,’ ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ ‘Billy Goats Gruff ’ and ‘The Princess and the Frog’ are not forgotten.” Other library events of interest include a
“After all the turkey has been eaten, there isn’t really much for the kids or adults to do the rest of the day. This is something that the entire family can come out and enjoy doing together.” — Mattie Rials
Jalia Pittman rocks a Rudolph nose and reindeer ears from her perch on a McComb parade entry. Christmas Munch-a-Lunch at noon on the first Thursday of December. The luncheon is open to the public and costs $1.25, which includes a sandwich, beverage and pastry. The luncheon has been a library favorite
for 33 years. Later that afternoon, McComb historian Tommie Lou Grenn will reflect on Christmases past around the city. Another popular event in association with the library is the “Christmas Crafts Around the Christmas Tree.” The event is held very Thursday in December and begins at 10 a.m. Head Start groups and day care centers are urged to participate. Kids can make and take home a simple craft.
Great pumpkins The Pumpkin Patch at Oak Knoll Farm, at 5042 Old Mill Road in Osyka, and owned by E.W. and Betty Foy, is a big draw for kids who want country fun and the chance to pick out their own pumpkin. On these pages, children from O.W. Dillon Elementary School in Kentwood, La., had a great time riding to the patch in a hay-filled trailer and then having fun on the playgrounds.
The student at left seems to be having a tough time choosing which pumpkin to call his own. Below, a visitor to Oak Knoll Farm in Osyka happily hefts his pumpkin, ready to decorate it and take it home.
Fall - Winter Issue
Preschoolers take home pumpkins they pick out at Oak Knoll Farm, and enjoy a tractor ride through the farm.
Taking a ride in a hay-filled trailer is half the fun for kifd visiting Oak Knoll Farm in Osyka. These kids are preschoolers from O.W. Dillon Elementary School in Kentwood, La.
Ard’s dairy farm in Ruth is taking advantage of the state’s increased emphasis on agri-tourism. The Ards have an October 10-acre corn maze — a cow jumping over the moon — and they offer tours of a real working dairy farm.
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Dairy tours keep Ards busy BY RHONDA DUNAWAY RD’S DAIRY in Ruth is one of the newest additions to Mississippi’s agritourism ind ustry. A third-generation family-owned and -operated farm, Ard’s Dairy is a unique installment in south Mississippi agri-business because it was the first known working dairy farm in the region to open its doors to the public. Farmer Pat Ard and his wife Bonnie have always been interested in finding ways to diversify their income. With economic conditions affecting the price of milk and the cost of running a dairy, keeping the farm self-sustaining has been difficult. It was a visit to nearby Mitchell Farms in Collins that inspired Julie Ard-James, the Ards’ daughter who holds a degree in hospitality management, to convince her parents to get into agri-tourism. While enjoying the Mitchell’s pumpkin patch and country store, her wheels started spinning.
Youngsters who think their milk comes from a carton will learn how the beverage that “does a body good” is really produced, demonstrated by dairy farmer Pat Ard, above, At left is one of the many Holstein cows Ard has on his farm.
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“I told Daddy, ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’ I was very impressed with what they were doing,” said Julie, who lives in Hattiesburg with her husband Patrick and comes home to the farm weekly. “I have friends in Hattiesburg who are always saying to me, ‘I wish I had somewhere to take the kids on the weekend.’ Finally, I realized how blessed we were. Because at first I thought, ‘Who wants to come to the dairy farm?’ ” The Ards welcome touring groups, and many school classes are among those who visit. Julie comes home to the farm to guide the tours and educate people about the dairy farm. Ard’s Dairy has more than just tours to offer. There is a cozy farmhouse available for weekend getaways or company cook-outs. The three-bedroom brick home has recently been redecorated with inviting textures and cheerful colors,
like the bold black and white cowhide rug in the living room and cotton quilts tossed on the beds. Visitors can have as little or as much access to farm activities and fishing holes as they like. They can fish at the creek or in one of the ponds. Anglers are likely to reel in perch, bass and catfish. There is a hammock and a place for building a bonfire so visitors can soak up nature into the night. “It’s been overwhelming how much interest we’ve had in it,” Pat said. “When I was growing up everybody had a farm. But even rural kids now aren’t familiar with farm life,” he said. Julie said, “These kids that come out here, many of them don’t know where their milk comes from. One little boy, when I asked the class if they drank milk from a cow said, ‘No, I drink the kind of milk that comes from cartons in the cafeteria.’ ”
“These kids that come out here, many of them don’t know where their milk comes from.” — Julie Ard-James
Pat Ard examines the corn that’s part of the 10-acre maze open each October at his farm in Ruth.
Pat said the experience is educational. “One of the things that’s good about having kids come out here is that they learn about where their cheese, milk and dairy products come from. We are in the 2 percent of those that feed 98 percent of the population.” Each October, the farm is open Wednesday through Saturday nights for a “flashlight maze.” Pat said county extension agents have worked with him from the beginning to get the agri-tourism running. Union County Extension Agent Stanley G. Wise Jr., who has experience in making mazes, came down to help the Ards cut their corn field maze. Last year, he helped 10 farms make mazes. “It’s fun for families and kids to come into the field and play and find their way out. (Mississippi State University) has given me the flexibility and allowed me to go and help farmers create mazes,” Wise said. “They’ve allowed me the training to do it so I can go out
Ruth dairy farmer Pat Ard hangs a sign on the side of a wagon he uses to take visitors on tours of his dairy farm. and help farmers who are just getting into this, so the farmers can learn how to do it themselves.” Lincoln County Extension Agent Rebecca B. Bates said agritourism is not only good for farmers. “It’s good for the community. Kids get to learn about how a farm works and where their food comes from.” But Bates and Wise said agritourism is not for every farm.
“You have to be a people person. You have to want to invite the public into your home, really, but it makes a great addition to a farm family’s income,” Bates said. Wise said there are also several maze companies that will come in and help with designing and cutting a corn maze. “I tell people it really is rocket science,” Wise said of the process he uses to map out
mazes. Julie chose the design for the maze — the farm’s logo of a cow jumping over the moon and stars — and with software, a drawing, a handheld GPS unit, Wise and a worker on a zeroturn mower cut out the Ard’s10acre corn maze. “I think the people who are going to go out there are going to have a unique experience — they will get to see a true working family farm,” Wise said.
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