Kasson-Mantorville celebrates Ag Day

KASSON, Minn. --- More than 300 people turned out to celebrate agriculture at the annual Ag Day Dinner at Kasson-Mantorville High School.

The dinner, held March 13, featured pulled pork sandwiches, side dishes, desserts and beverages. Lori Pagel’s Intro to Ag class pulled off the event with help from FFA officers and generous donations from the community.

They start with a budget of zero and build the event from there, explained freshman Orion Hardwick, who is in Intro to Ag and FFA. Pagel stresses the importance of having connections so they can do something like this without a budget, Hardwick said.

He served on the food committee and was responsible for soliciting donations of food or money to pay for food. It was difficult to call people and ask for donations, he said, but it got easier the more calls he made. Also, he knew Pagel was counting on him.

Everyone in the class is assigned to a committee, explained dinner co-chair Hannah Mikkalson, a senior. Breaking up the workload makes the task of preparing a dinner for more than 250 guests manageable, she said.


As a co-chair, her job was to make sure the committees were completing their tasks.

They did, Mikkalson said, and she received several positive comments on the food and event, which included booths on corn, soybeans, pork, turkey, dairy, Farm Bureau and Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership surrounding the tables set up to serve guests. There were also tables filled with close to 40 door prizes donated by businesses. Everyone who filled out an Ag Day Quiz was eligible to win a prize.

Each of the 23 students in Intro to Ag was responsible for soliciting a door prize. Hardwick said he tried to select businesses he had connections to. He also asked face-to-face, finding that easier than making a cold call.

Freshman Abigail Tjosaas said she learned teamwork, leadership and planning skills in organizing the Ag Day Dinner. She served on the set up committee, which was responsible for planning how the gym would be organized, soliciting door prizes and setting up the FFA yearbooks.

School janitors set up the tables per their directions, but they found a few out of place on their arrival at 3:30 p.m. in preparation for the 4:30 opening, Tjosaas said. It was mad chaos for a while as the tape wouldn’t stick, the balloons wouldn’t stay up and the table clothes wouldn’t work.

But as the clock neared 7 p.m. and the event wound down, Tjosaas reflected on the Ag Day Dinner.

"It’s going very well," she said. "I’m very happy with how it’s turning out."

"I think this year we hit our goal for the number of people we wanted," said senior Isaac Whiteaker, Kasson-Mantorville FFA treasurer, who has been involved in the event since he was a freshman. They planned for 250, including class members, but had north of 260 people RSVP.


The Ag Day Dinner is planned as a celebration of agriculture and also an appreciation of farmers and agribusinesses, the students said.

"It’s nice to say thanks to farmers for doing what they do … for growing food," Hardwick said.

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