(Note: Look for a more in-depth story on Wade Hodges and his family in the Thanksgiving edition of the Herald on Thursday.)
Bulloch County farmer Wade C. Hodges III was visibly overwhelmed Friday when his selection was announced as the 2017 Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce Farmer of the Year.
The announcement came at the end of the annual Farm City Week luncheon, held this year at the Ogeechee Technical College Natural Resources building. The featured speaker for the event was Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, who was introduced by Raybon Anderson, past recipient of the Chamber's Farm Partner of the Year.
Chamber agribusiness committee chair Andrea Whitfield led up to the announcement, which is always kept a secret until the Farm City gathering. She shared complimentary words from fellow farmers and Hodges' family, adding that Hodges received more nominations than any other nominee this year.
Words shared about the third-generation farmer included "he stays close to his roots - faith, family and farming;" "He is never too busy to help neighbors, family and friends;" and "To most people, they see dirt. A farmer sees potential. (Hodges) always find a way."
Whitfield became emotional as she read words from Hodges' children describing how they watched him work hard as they grew up, teaching them to always help others and showing them by example as a perfect role model. They said "he is the most selfless man we know," she read.
Hodges was visibly stunned as he approached the podium to accept the honor. "I don't know what to say," he said. "I spoke to and talked with all those farmers (shown earlier in the meeting in a promotional video). I don't know how you did it (kept his nomination a secret), but you did and I appreciate it. A lot of people have helped me more than they realize."
Black spoke briefly after the luncheon served by Honey Catering. He talked about Georgia agriculture, the importance of promoting Georgia grown products and encouraging younger residents to become involved in agriculture.
Farm City Week celebrates partnerships between the residents and businesses of the city and those who live in rural areas and are involved in agricultural businesses.
Sometimes a breakfast meeting and other times held at lunch, the annual Farm City event is sponsored by AgSouth Farm Credit, FMB, Farm Bureau, Bulloch Gin and Blanchard Equipment.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.