People from all walks of life came together last night for healthy food and great relationships (as is the Cecil Farms motto) at The Farms That Feed Me 5th Annual Farm-to-Table dinner located at Cecil Farms. Born out of a partnership between Hill View Farms and Cecil Farms, this fun, relaxing and delicious event is the culmination of months of hard work, planning and a focus on supporting local agriculture.
The Farms That Feed Me is a dinner featuring live music, an exquisitely prepared meal and a relaxed, casual atmosphere. Tucked between the peaceful farms and rolling hills of western Daviess County, the Cecil family farm served as the perfect venue for this year’s event. Jim Gilles of Hill View Farms said the evening highlights meats from Hill View Farms and produce from Cecil Farms, but the overall focus is on the local agriculture of Daviess County.
“The disconnect between farmer and dinner plate is growing every day,” Gilles said. “This event is a way to bridge that gap.”
Singer-songwriter Mark Burke began the evening with familiar tunes as his raspy, Nashville rendition of “Country Roads” welcomed guests to a night of genuine Americana. As the sun sank low in the sky, the rustic barn setting with lanterns, twinkle lights and beautiful, fresh floral arrangements accentuated the farm atmosphere. Suzanne Cecil White of Cecil Farms hugged her guests warmly as family, friends and customers who have become like family filtered in.
Homemade appetizers like refreshing cucumber dill bites, bacon crescent bites, spicy Italian sausage crostini and watermelon skewers lined the top of a repurposed wagon, decorated with vibrant and colorful flowers. After getting appetizers, guests could mingle in the Adirondack chairs and cozy porch swings carefully placed to encourage conversation or make their way over to the drink stations, where homemade sweet tea, just-the-right-amount-of-sweet strawberry lemonade, and ice water waited near the bar where a variety of beers and wines were served.
As the sun set, guests took their seats inside the barn at one of the long banquet tables lit by colorful tea light lanterns and continued chatting with their friends. The salad was a flavorful variety of Cecil Farms greens, tomatoes and peppers with just a hint of dressing. Ratatouille and seasoned potatoes made for ideally paired complements to the Hill View Farms ribeye steak, exquisitely marbled and grilled to perfection. Warm, sweet, cinnamon-flavored peach cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream completed the meal.
Guests for the evening included longtime family friends, members of the local farming community, customers who enjoy the meat and produce from the farms, and even a charming pair of nuns celebrating a birthday.
“We see many of the same people year after year, but there are a lot of new faces here, too!” Gilles said.
As dessert ended, local duo Dustin Taylor on the Rocks serenaded guests under the stars with soothing blues music that lingered in the night like the guests who stayed to dance in the moonlight and enjoy the farm just a bit longer.
“We always try to provide a unique dining experience. It’s something different that you wouldn’t find at a restaurant here in Owensboro,” Gilles said.
Preparing the meal was a joint effort of Hill View Farms, Cecil Farms Produce, Chef Matt Weafer, Caryn Gabbard and close friends and family.
Why do they do it?
“We want to provide a one-of-a-kind, enjoyable evening on the farm to connect face-to-face with one another,” White said.
This dinner wouldn’t be possible without sponsors who helped provide a variety of products and services. Those sponsors include Mischel Monuments, Backroads Consulting, Welborn Floral & Events, Farm Credit Mid-America, Clark Distributing, White Lightning and Melon1.
Over the past five years, word about this distinctive experience has certainly gotten around, as the event has sold out weeks in advance, year after year.
“We have found that we (and our repeat guests) love the smaller, more intimate dinner setting the best,” White said.
Last night’s guest list was approximately 92 friends, family and customers who support the Cecil and Gilles families. Guests hailed from as far away as New York and southern Florida, with many others from a bit closer to home, like Nashville, Newburgh, Evansville and Owensboro.
Local ingredients, produce, farm-to-table living and the importance of family were just a few of the focal points of the evening. Both Jim Gilles and Suzanne Cecil White reiterated the significant role that family plays in this event.
“We are ever so grateful for our friends and family who help us each year,” White said.