CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) — The Mahoning County Agricultural Society has announced its first hall of fame nominees that will be inducted at this year’s 176th Canfield Fair.

The purpose of the Mahoning County Agriculture Hall of Fame is to recognize those who have made a significant impact on agriculture, brought distinction to themselves, have made outstanding contributions to their professions and whose community involvement has served as a stimulus to others.

The induction ceremonies will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 31 on the Concourse Stage located near the Grandstand. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the induction ceremonies.

This is the first of annual awards that will be made to men or women, husband and wife teams, and partnerships either as farmers or contributors through an agricultural-related field.

The inductees are:

  • William B. Phillips
  • Chester Bedell
  • Eldon R. Groves
  • David and Joanna Witmer
  • Vernon E. Crouse
  • Paul D. Witmer
  • J. Paul Good
  • Darrell A. Bacon

David and Joanna Witmer
In July of 1977, a train derailment virtually destroyed the Columbiana Milling Co. This created a loss of
milling and grain handling to support the local agricultural community. Beaver Township farmer David
Witmer and his wife Joanna immediately saw the need to fill this void, and on July 10, 1978, they opened
the feed mill and grain facility to be known as Witmer’s Feed & Grain. Since that humble beginning, David and Joanna added fertilizer and agronomy products in the early 1980s and continuously grew their grain handling by adding bins and new facilities to handle well over 2 million bushels of grain and manufacture over 100,000 tons of feed today. David and Joanna held a strong belief in our youth in agriculture, and to benefit all rather than some, they became the sponsor for the show shirts worn by all exhibitors in the market classes at the Canfield Fair. David and Joanna can best be remembered as kind, caring, and helpful. They were kind to everyone they met, caring to young and old alike, and all so helpful to the agricultural needs of Mahoning County and the surrounding area.

Darrel A. Bacon
Darrel Bacon was a successful grain and dairy farmer, and the co-founder of Green Meadows Soil Service
in New Springfield. Through his farming and service to the agricultural community, Bacon made sure
that everyone around him had the most opportunities to succeed, the best arena in which to perform,
and had the most support that could be provided. Bacon was the head advisor for the Springfield Booster Boys 4-H club for 62 years. Bacon was also a founding member of the market livestock club in Mahoning County and served as its treasurer for 40 years. Along with these and many other Extension related committees, Bacon was inducted into the Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame. Along with his farming duties, Bacon served on numerous Farm Bureau committees and served 22 years on the Canfield Fair Board overseeing the Jr. Fair Activities. Beyond his service to agriculture, Bacon was a Springfield Township Trustee, a volunteer fireman, and a member of the board of education, where he also was the clerk-treasurer, bus coordinator and cafeteria supervisor for Springfield Local Schools. Bacon also served as Sunday school superintendent for over 60 years.

Elden R. Groves
Born in 1909 in Green Township, Groves grew up and became a well-known and respected Jersey dairy farmer on his 100-acre farm. By 1934, Groves’ talents in agricultural journalism were showcased in the Farm & Dairy newspaper in a column titled “Seems to me,” and in 1942, Groves was named Editor of the Farm & Dairy, a position he held until 1982. Groves was the “Farm reporter” for WFMJ for 25 years and also wrote a column called “Over the back fence” for the Ohio Farmer magazine from 1949 – 1991. Throughout his career, Groves founded and was the editor for seven agricultural publications, and was a columnist for many other state and national agricultural publications. Groves served as a Canfield Fairboard member from 1957 – 1979. In 1979, Groves was enshrined into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame as well as earning the Honorary State Degree from the Ohio FFA. Groves’ many other awards reflect a life dedicated to improving the agricultural industry and the rural way of life.

J. Paul Good
Born in Beaver Township in 1930. Good grew up on the family farm located on Rt 224 at South Avenue. After college, Good joined his father in running Good Farm Equipment in Canfield. In 1963, Good started his career as the Executive Director for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service in Mahoning County. Later his position was enlarged to add Columbiana County to his office. Agricultural education was held in high importance to Good and he was instrumental in planning the Mahoning County Joint Vocational School to be certain the curriculum would include agricultural programing. Through this involvement, Good went on to serve on the board of education for the vocational school today known as MCCTC. Telling the agricultural story was also a passion of Paul Good as he produced his program on WBBW radio titled the “Good Report” airing each morning from his home he would promote issues related to agriculture and the local farm scene

Vernon E. Crouse
Born in 1894, Crouse grew up on his Beaver Township farm where his family raised crops and sheep.
Crouse was a member of the Canfield Fairboard for 28 years. According to longtime Canfield Fair Secretary, Miss Grace Williams, Crouse is credited with many ideas that have preserved the agricultural heritage of the fair. Building the first 4-H club building, the formation of the Junior Fair, youth day, and the livestock parade were all additions credited to Crouse while serving on the fair board. Crouse was instrumental in starting the “Pig Iron Derby,” the high school band concert, shuttle bus service, the trailer campgrounds, Sunday church service, the quilting demonstrations and exhibits, and moving the fair east toward the new race track. Crouse held a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from the Ohio State University and was very active in the granges in Mahoning County.

Paul D. Witmer
Born in Columbiana in 1906, Witmer started farming and selling farm equipment in the 1920s. In 1929, Witmer and his father, I.B. Witmer purchased the farm on Green Beaver Road in Green Township. It was on this farm that Witmer began his Brown Swiss dairy operation as well as the John Deere dealership which would become one of the largest in the state. The dairy farm came to be known as Rolling Meadows Farm, consisting of 300 acres and a herd of over 100 registered Brown Swiss Cattle. This farm is still being operated by the family today nearly 100 years later. Paul Witmer and Sons dealership displayed machinery at the Canfield Fair from the 1940s until the mid-1990s. Many young ‘future farmers’ have memories of getting a farm toy at the fair. Witmer also shared his skills by writing a column in the Farm and Dairy through the 1950s titled “Man on a Fence.” Witmer was very active in the Ohio and National Brown Swiss Associations where he served as president.

William B. Phillips
Born in 1924, Bill Phillips may likely be one of the most recognized names in Mahoning County Agriculture. In 1956 Phillips began his 32-year career as the County Extension Agent in Mahoning County. Phillips brought dedication, enthusiasm, and professionalism to his position serving the agricultural community in Mahoning and surrounding counties. Phillips was very active in providing educational opportunities for all aspects of farming. Each year he would conduct hands-on programs for dairy farmers, fruit growers, landscapers, vegetable farmers as well as many other agricultural specialties. Bill, as everyone knew him was always accessible to help everyone, be it in person, in classes, by phone, in newsletters, in news articles, or leading on-site tours. Phillips is credited with organizing the annual Urban Farm tour providing a platform for those from the city to tour local farms and gain knowledge of farming operations. Bill’s community service, activities, and honors are many and indeed distinguished. However, one of Bill’s most proud memories was his time serving in the Army Air Corp. in WWII.

Chester Bedell
Born in 1826, Chester’s family moved from New Jersey to the area now known as Berlin Township, Mahoning County, Ohio. Chester Bedell grew up under pioneer conditions. While schooling was nothing like today’s standards, Bedell found ways and means to ensure his development and became very intellectually competent. Bedell operated a crop and livestock farm in Berlin Township, and he made trips annually to Chicago to buy cattle. Bedell’s land ownership grew to about 1700 acres, making him the largest land owner in Mahoning County. Bedell was looked upon as a leader in the agriculture and livestock industries, and his
old homestead was always open to extend a cordial welcome to the many friends of the family. Bedell supported local churches, school boards, and all charities for the unfortunate. During this time, awards and recognition were not the custom, rather the satisfaction of doing good deeds was personal and in your heart. Bedell’s 1700-acre farm was reported to have housed 1000 sheep, 300 cattle, and 100 hogs, along with numerous horses and fowl. Bedell also operated a clay tile pottery in Berlin Township.

Source: Canfield Fair