There is one day each year where the parking lot down on south campus here at UD transforms into an almost unrecognizable network of tents, vendors, presenters, performers, pie-in-the-facers, tractors, animals, and more. A day where the University of Delaware opens up one of their most prized resources to the members of the Newark community, letting them into the College of Agriculture and making them want to return year after year on this unforgettable day. A day that most students at UD have no idea exists.
Ag Day is for everyone. There are opportunities there in every aspect of agriculture that people of any age and interest can find exciting. There’s music from bands and acapella groups, plants you can buy to liven up the dorm room, the one and only UDairy ice cream, face-painting for people of all ages, baby animals to meet and instantly fall in love with, research surveys that will literally give you money for just participating, and so much more. Coming from a background of zero farm experience myself, I have been completely roped into the community of the college of agriculture here and there is no turning back.
My Ag Day started relatively late this year; I didn’t leave my apartment until 8:00am when I went to ShopRite to buy twelve bags of ice for my fraternity’s table. There’s a lot more to it than just ice, and it took so many people and so much planning to pull it off. Our co-ed honors agricultural fraternity, Alpha Zeta, sells pulled pork sandwiches every year that have become famous in the world of Ag Day. Members of the Newark community come up to us and tell us that they come out each year just for these sandwiches, and then they proceed to buy at least three because they are that good. While the wind made this Ag Day a little tricky and sent me racing across the parking lot after a rogue twenty-dollar bill, our tent held its ground and we sold out of pulled pork. While having leftovers is usually a huge perk after Ag Day, I was so proud of everyone for working so hard and making it happen. While I spent my morning with my frat bros pulling pork and selling it, that was just the beginning of my Ag Day adventures this year.
Next I was off to the Animal Science Club tent to paint the faces of children for an hour. I’m not a super great artist by any means, but I do enjoy painting as a relaxing pastime when I get around to it. However, each time I sign up for face painting, I forget that it is another skill entirely. Between moving children making outlandish requests and stiff brushes dipped in paint made sticky by sitting in the sun all day, I believe it is truly impossible to pull off any real work of art. But that absolutely did not keep me from trying. At first I thought today would be easy, when a young boy’s mom told me he just wanted a moon and some stars on each cheek. It got a lot harder really quickly. When a girl told me she wanted a butterfly on her cheek, and I asked her what color, and she told me rainbow with glitter, I did not hesitate and I did my best to make it happen. I put sharks on people’s hands and faces, turned two girls into matching unicorns, and even pulled off a cow that I can say I’m pretty proud of. That may have been the quickest hour of the day, the line endless the whole sixty minutes.
After face painting, it was a sprint over to the main stage for pie-in-the-face. I happily let myself get pied in the face for the opportunity to simultaneously pie my friend doing the pie-ing. We laughed and got our pictures, cleaned ourselves up and went back to being busy. The next hour was my dream come true. As an aspiring veterinarian obsessed with sheep, when I was hanging out with a couple of ewes and their combined four lambs, I was absolutely living my best life. I was definitely supposed to be talking to people more about the lambs and the farm at UD, but people didn’t have many questions, and it was my first break of the day, so I took advantage of the opportunity to relax and enjoy just hanging out with some of the cutest and sweetest little animals our farm has to offer.
Once my hour on cloud nine was up, I got to move on to one of the cutest and sweetest big animals our farm has to offer, a three-year-old dairy cow. All I had to do was hold her for a milking demonstration, a pretty easy job, difficult to mess up. Just as I’m asking if there’s anything that could go wrong, my foot lands in probably the biggest pile of poop I’ve ever seen, one that definitely could have been avoided if I’d looked down just a split second sooner. But it was too late, my shoes were goners and I knew it. As I said earlier, I am truly one with agriculture now—so I shrugged it off, had a great time with the demonstration, laughed about it with some friends after, and eventually made my way over to wash off my ankle and dump my shoes in the nearest trash can.
The rest of the day I gave myself a little time to actually experience Ag Day for myself, hanging out with my parents, consuming one of those delicious pulled pork sandwiches, and waiting over an hour in line for a scoop of Delaware River Mud Pie ice cream, indisputably the best flavor at UDairy. I blocked off extra time in my day for cleanup that I was sure would take at least an hour, but the Ag Day team has really got this thing down to a science. We packed up our Alpha Zeta table in less than thirty minutes, and by then the Ag Day crew was making huge progress in returning the decked out parking lot back to just a regular parking lot. It was like I blinked and the whole day flew by in a blur. Writing this, I know I did a lot of different things, more than I even mentioned probably, but I still can’t tell you where the time went, how that eight hour day went by so perfectly yet so quickly at the same time. All I knew was I was exhausted, sunburned, and dehydrated, all signs of a long day, so I definitely didn’t imagine it. Each year at the end, while grateful for everything I got to do, I think of all the things I didn’t get to do at Ag Day, and start making a new plan for next year. I hope to see you all there!