By: Amy Wendt
THE VILLGE REPORTER
Four area leaders in agribusiness and farming received the honor of being inducted into the 2023 Fulton County Agricultural Hall of Fame on Monday, August 21, 2023.
The Ohio State University hosted the annual dinner and ceremony at St. Casper’s Catholic Church to recognize outstanding ag leaders from the Fulton County area.
The Agricultural Hall of Fame is comprised of individuals from Fulton County who have dedicated 25 years or more to serving the ag sector within the county, state, or region. Since 1983, a total of 160 farmers and leaders in agribusiness have received the award.
Those in attendance at Monday’s event enjoyed a delicious dinner complete with homemade ice cream provided by the Fulton County Dairy Association.
FFA members from area schools were also on hand to offer any assistance needed to the guests and hosts of the event.
The award ceremony commenced after the meal with Jim Spiess offering thanks to the OSU Extension staff, recognizing the 2023 Hall of Fame selection committee, and offering a few opening words.
“Fulton County is a special place for all of us. Not only the development of agriculture but also to the growth of families,” Spiess noted before the presentation began.
Those receiving the 2023 Fulton County Agricultural Hall of Fame Award were: Gary Brehm (award presented by Paul Andre); Thomas A Herr, Sr. (award presented by Alexis Howell); Jack Lugbill (award presented by John Poulson); and Don Williams (award presented by Curt Johnson). All presenters offered a biography of each recipient prior to delivering the award.
The Fulton County OSU Extension provided the following biographies for this year’s inductees:
Gary Brehm is a lifelong producer and dairyman from Swancreek Township. Growing up on the family farm, Gary has pursued agriculture from a young age. Gary earned his State FFA Degree prior to graduating high school and then attended Ohio State University majoring in Dairy Science. During his collegiate years, Gary served on the Dairy Science Advisory Committee.
Following his graduation from OSU in 1974, Gary returned to the family farm joining his father Lowell and brother Hal to form what would later become Sandland Farms, Inc.
His background and higher education in Dairy Science encouraged him to further expand the family dairy’s operation from 50 to 125 cows in 1982.
With dairy technology ever changing, Gary was instrumental in ensuring that his family’s farm was operating efficiently and effectively amidst changing, and arguably volatile, milk and grain markets. During these years, the family also expanded and modernized their grain farming operation to support the growing dairy.
The success through these early years has allowed Gary the opportunity to now farm alongside his sons Andrew and Nathan. Sandland Farms remains one of three functioning dairy units in Fulton County.
Gary has been a lifetime advocate for agriculture. He has served as a 4-H Advisor for the Delta Dandy Doers Club. Gary is a lifelong member of the Ohio Farm Bureau, serving as a county delegate and committee chair.
The Delta Farmers Elevator, Pike-Delta-York School District, Milk Marketing Inc., and the Fulton County Dairy Association have all been blessed to have Gary’s leadership at one point or another.
Gary is noted to have provided animals to local youth for 4-H and FFA projects, as well as inviting many youth organizations out to the farm to promote and advocate for the dairy industry.
Gary and his family were the first host family for Fulton County’s Breakfast on the Farm in 2015. On this day over 3,000 individuals were provided the opportunity to experience life on the farm, via a hands-on, self-guided tour through Sandland Farms.
Gary and his family have served at both the 2019 and 2023 Breakfast on the Farm events, continuing to support and highlight the local agriculture community.
Thomas A Herr Sr. (Tom) has been a promoter of Fulton County and its agricultural community in many ways. Tom has been farming in Fulton County for over 70 years and continues to farm to this day.
Tom lives in Amboy Township where he raises processing tomatoes for Hirzel Canning Company, corn, soybeans, and wheat alongside his son and grandchildren on their “Century Farm,” Triple H Farms.
Although he passed his love and husbandry for the land onto his family, Tom’s strong passion for farming still leads him to the field whenever possible as there is no slowing him down.
He has promoted the agriculture industry in our county by proudly opening his family farm to the public for the 2023 Fulton County Breakfast on the Farm.
Tom was beyond thrilled to have his family host this event, and he made sure to inform anyone he could that they could enjoy a free day full of education about farming at his farm.
At the event, Tom could be found with his family giving the rich farm history and sharing many stories with their visitors. Despite some health setbacks, Tom persevered and made his presence.
Tom has been an active member in his community by serving on various boards over the years. Tom is devoted to his church, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, where he had previously served on the Parish Council.
He is a lifelong member of the Catholic War Vets as he was a member of the Army in the early 1950s for a few years before returning to farming.
Tom is also a member of The Sons of the American Legion in Swanton. Tom and his wife, Lynn, were active 4-H Advisors for 40 years where they served the youth of Fulton County in their 4-H Club, Gainers and Leaders. He and Lynn were also active members of the Fulton County Farm Bureau.
If you give Tom a minute, you will hear stories about his years of farming and family that could last for hours.
Tom knows of no stranger, and he opens his friendship to all. He is eager to promote the agriculture industry and the years of change that he has lived through. If you get the chance to hear a Tom Herr story, consider yourself a lucky person.
Jack Lugbill was the longtime owner and operator of Brookview Farm Meats and BBQ, located in Ridgeville Township, just south of German Township on County Rd 24.
An adopter of change, a strong work ethic, and the family’s integrity allowed Jack to sustain the business and thrive amidst many years of livestock market variability and economic challenges for the general public, ultimately allowing him the opportunity to turn over the business to his son Jon earlier this year.
Being involved in the family business from the start, Jack had the opportunity to lead the business through several market and demand changes.
Through school, Jack was involved in the business learning and gleaning the butchering industry from his father. He took ownership of the shop in the early 80s.
In the late 70s and early 80s, the cattle market was changing and caused the business to shift gears and add hogs and sheep to their beef processing business.
Later in life, Jack traveled to Texas to explore the purchase of his first portable grill. He returned home with the idea and a grill to start custom barbeque chicken.
This led the business in its next venture of custom catering and barbeque to expand the service and utilization of their business’s resources.
Jack and family have catered and served many athletes and religious fundraisers throughout Northwest Ohio and beyond since then.
Jack was instrumental in starting the Fulton County Cattle Feeders Beef Stand and Pork Producers Pork Stand at the Fulton County Fair, supplying thousands of hamburgers, sausage, ribeye, and pork chop sandwiches.
Jack can still be found in the back working at Brookview almost every day, alongside his son.
In the community, Jack is a member and former elder of the Archbold Evangelical Church.
Jack has served as the President of the Archbold Lions Club, served on both the Fulton and Henry County Cattleman’s Associations, and is a past member of the Fairlawn Haven Board of Directors.
Jack has served on a variety of meat industry boards and associations including serving as the Director of the Ohio Association of Meat Processors, and a member of the Ohio Cattleman’s and National BBQ Association.
Jack has been a major supporter of the local FFA and 4-H youth through various meat judging competitions, hosting the rate-of-gain competition scoring, and employing several youth inspiring them to pursue a future in the meat or ag industry.
They regularly support local FFA chapters and projects, and always with a smile. Jack’s accolades include being inducted into the Henry County Ag Hall of Fame, as well as into the Golden Cleaver Club for his contributions to the American Meat Association, although Jack would never tell you of these accomplishments. Jack is a dedicated leader, supporter, and generous member of our Agriculture community.
Don Williams of Dover Township has given a lifetime of service to the Fulton County Fairgrounds and to many agricultural producers through his excavating business of over 40 years, DW Excavating.
Living just north of the County Fairgrounds for nearly 76 years, Don has been highly involved in the development and success of the facilities and events at the County Fair.
Don served on the Fair Board for 15 years, but his involvement and service goes far beyond those years. There are very few aspects of the County Fairgrounds that Don hasn’t been involved in.
From the initial planning and design through the construction phase, Don played a critical role in the development of Spangler Arena, donating his time, equipment, and resources. This can be said of many other grounds projects at the fair.
Don was also instrumental in leading the NTPA Tractor Pulls as the Director in Charge, earning the best NTPA Regional Pulls 13 out of the 15 years that he was on the Fair Board.
This was voted on by the pullers. That award comes in part due to the facility in which it was hosted, where Don installed drainage tile to help the infield conditions, as well as contributing to other major drainage projects on the fairgrounds. It’s not uncommon to see Don mowing the ditch banks along the fairgrounds across from his home, though he has no obligation to do so.
Outside of his involvement in the County Fair, Don has been a man that is committed to his family and takes pride in his work. Don and his wife Judy have been married for 56 years, and in those years, they raised 2 children, Jill and Tera. Don and Judy also have 2 grandchildren, Cam and Cara.
Don is an esteemed excavator and contractor throughout the county and beyond. Don served as the lead contractor for several county and municipality projects throughout his excavating career. Landowners knew that if Don was on the job, it would be done right.
In the community, Don is a member of the Christ United Methodist Church in Wauseon. Don was part of the initial planning committee for the Wauseon Cruise Night Car Show, which carries on to this day. Don is an active participant of the show.
Additionally, he has an impressive International tractor collection which he proudly displays at the fair, various car shows, and outside his home.
Upon receiving their awards, each recipient was invited to introduce their family members who were in attendance.
To commemorate their achievement, all inductees received a plaque engraved with their photo. Additionally, a matching award will be permanently displayed at the Fulton County Fairgrounds.
Amy can be reached at email@example.com