For 40 years Litchfield and Hartford, Ala. celebrate PB and M

LITCHFIELD, Minn. — Stacy Hatcher couldn’t turn down a return trip to Litchfield, especially when his Hartford, Ala,. FFA officer team requested that he come with them.

Hatcher and the FFA team were among nine people from Hartford who visited Litchfield last week for the Peanut Butter and Milk Festival sister city exchange.

Now in its 40th year, the exchange program brings a group from Hartford to Litchfield for a week in February. In November, a Litchfield delegation travels to Hartford.

It was the FFAers first trip to Litchfield.

Hatcher’s first visited Litchfield was in 1982. His wife joined him for second visit in 2004. This year is a special trip with the officer team. All of the FFA’ers are seniors and he's happy to share the week with them.


The group visited Becker Brothers Dairy near Eden Valley and Turk Dairy near Litchfield, toured the First District Association’s plant in Litchfield, visited the Grand Army of the Republic Hall and Museum and the Forest City stockade. During their week-long stay, they attended a banquet in their honor and went snowmobiling.

"It’s such a great program," Hatcher said. "You get to know a lot of people. There are so many in both communities who work on this program. It’s truly a labor of love. It’s a lot of work to put together but there are so many great connections. They become like our extended family. You exchange Christmas cards and get invited to weddings and graduations. It’s great."

Hatcher said he wants to visit in the summer. That might happen because event organizers are discussing a summer trip, he said.

Cole Kimbro has no problem with the snow and cold.

"It blew my mind how much snow is on the ground," said the 18-year-old Hartford FFA treasurer. "That still amazes me. But we got to ride snowmobile one afternoon. That was an experience."

Kimbro doesn’t live on a farm but has worked on one for four years. The 20,000-acre operation raises cotton, peanuts and soybeans and has more than 300 head of livestock.

FFA member Taylor Albert  and chapter president Shannen Miller were surprised at the size of the farms and the region’s dairy industry. Only one dairy operates near Hartford, they said.

Albert gained a greater understanding of the importance agriculture plays in the two communities. It was something her stepfather, Michael Langford, said she should watch for during the trip. Langford has been part of the Hartford delegation in the past, Albert said.


"He told me it would be a good opportunity to learn about the program and about agriculture here, which is different from Alabama," she said.

Nick Holley gained an appreciation for the work ethic he saw on the farms.

"I was born and raised on a row crop farm," said Holley who made the trip with his wife, Martha. "To see what they do on the dairy farms, working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it shows the dedication they have to their farms."

Farms around Hartford are mostly crop operations with peanuts and cotton are grown. But Holley saw many similarities.

"The farmers face the same trials and tribulations," he said. "Prices are a factor. It’s all the bottom line. When you talk to them, you can see that farming is in their blood. You can tell these two- to three- to fourth-generation farmers are very dedicated to it. We have the same thing back home."

The trip was a family affair for Kenny and Susan Galloway. Their daughter, Maggie,  is the chapter’s vice president. Her siblings, Jeremy and Candace, joined other Hartford delegations in the past.

"The Galloways have had a good run in Minnesota," she said.

Mom Susan Galloway agrees.


"They didn’t want to come home," she said of Jeremy and Candace’s reactions to their Minnesota trips. "There are some great memories they have of their stay. The people here are just so nice."

The Galloways have hosted several Minnesota delegations over the past few years.

Bruce Cottington founded the exchange. Now in his his 80s, he didn’t anticipate the program lasting 40 years, but is pleased to see the continued interest.

What To Read Next
Get Local