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If You Invite Someone To Dinner . . .

If you invite someone to dinner expect to have great conversation, to discover several 6-degrees of separation connections and to exchange information at night’s end that leads to great friendships.

That sums up the inaugural Illinois Harvest Dinner served Wednesday, September 9 at the Mackinson Dairy Farm near Pontiac, IL.  Fashioned after CommonGround North Dakota’s Banquet in a Field event, the goal was threefold:

  1. To create conversation that included thought-provoking questions, light-bulb moment answers and lots of listening and learning about food, fuel and fiber.
  2. To forge connections with people (i.e. farmers) consumers can trust, so when a question arises in the future, they know who might have an answer.
  3. To highlight Illinois’ number one industry and community!

Whose crazy idea was this?

Mary Mackinson Faber, Jenny Schweigert and I had connected on social media as Illinois farm gals and agriculture advocates.  So, when North Dakota’s video began circling through our newsfeeds, one us posted, “Let’s bring this to Illinois.”  And the other two said, “Count me in!”

We reached out to Illinois Agri-Women as official partner and hosts of the night, but were overwhelmed by the number of individual farmers, agri-business and commodity and farm groups that rallied around the cause. Their support proved that agriculture as a community is finding value in connections off-line as much as on-line.  We are discovering that our commonalities as humans far outweigh our differences and that civil exchange of ideas can happen without hashtags, likes and shares.

We started with this. A generous Matt and Amy Mackinson loaned their yard to the cause.

We started with this. A generous Matt and Amy Mackinson loaned their yard to the cause. (photo credit mackinsondairy.com)

Sara O'Shea and her crew from That's So Chic begin to work their magic.

Sara O’Shea and her crew from That’s So Chic begin to work their magic. (photo credit mackinsondairy.com)

Garden boxes filled with Illinois' crops cared for by Pontiac FFA stood guard at the event site ready for guests.

Garden boxes filled with Illinois’ crops cared for by Pontiac FFA stood guard at the event site ready for our guests who hailed from central Illinois’ healthcare community including doctors, dietitians, pharmacists, nutritionists, and hospital administrators.  Also present were moms, bloggers, educators, and individuals who wanted to know more about their food.  (photo credit mackinsondairy.com)

Also in the audience were farmers, of course.  We asked a select few to attend the event and help drive conversation, field questions and glean understanding of the issues consumers puzzle over.

At each place setting, diners found more links to Illinois agriculture. Each sponsor passed along photos and information about some of their star farmers. These photo biographies were tucked under the menu card in order to keep them from blowing in the fall breeze. Mums came from Mariah's Mums & More out of Clinton, IL. (photo credit mackinsondairy.com)

At each place setting, diners found more links to Illinois agriculture. Each sponsor had passed along photos and information about some of their star farmers. These photo biographies were tucked under the menu card in order to keep them from blowing in the fall breeze, but gave guests another look at the families behind their food. Mums came from Mariah’s Mums & More out of Clinton, IL. (photo credit mackinsondairy.com)

We couldn't have found a better chef and crew than those at The Cracked Pepper from Peoria, IL. When we first approached Chef Vince Swanson, we stated our terms. This was to be about good food served with no labels; and he delivered, taking care to highlight Illinois' agricultural diversity on a plate.

We couldn’t have found a better chef and crew than those at The Cracked Pepper from Peoria, IL. When we first approached Chef Vince Swanson, we stated our terms. This was to be about good food served with no labels; and he delivered, taking care to highlight Illinois’ agricultural diversity on a plate. (photo credit mackinsondairy.com)

After a brief welcome, dining and conversation commenced well in to the evening. From the main course to cheesecakes from That's So Sweet, folks talked about kids, parenting, food, family and farms.

After a brief welcome, dining and conversation commenced and lasted well after the sun set. From the main course to cheesecakes from That’s So Sweet (Lexington, IL), folks talked about kids, parenting, food, family and farms. (photo credit mackinsondairy.com)

As we called out our farewells, folks offered praise, thanks and then asked, “When will you do this again?”   Exhausted but pleased and oh so grateful, Mary, Jenny and I know a second annual event is in our future.

More highlights from Illinois Harvest Dinner are coming . . . in the form of a highlight reel, photographs from the talented Erin Ehnle from Keeping It Real Through The Lens of A Farm Girl, and other posts from those who attended.  Follow along on facebook at Illinois Harvest Dinner or on twitter #ILHarvest or @IllinoisHarvest.

Blog Posts:

Other Details: What Did You Serve?

Appetizers:

  • Horseradish infused deviled eggs
  • Bruschetta- Local mozzarella, grilled tomato, peach, aged balsamic on house made focaccia
  • Assorted pickled vegetables, fresh herb & buttermilk dip
  • Yukon gold potatoes, roasted cauliflower, caramelized onions, eggs, Dijon vinaigrette on Asian spoons

Family Style Salad:

  • Cider roasted golden beets, apples, cherry tomatoes with hazelnut vinaigrette & house made croutons

White Yeast Dinner Rolls with Butter

Duet plated meal:

  • Prime rib & slow braised pork shoulder
  • Fresh green beans
  • Charred corn polenta

Dessert: Mini Cheesecakes

  • Chocolate Zucchini
  • Maple Bacon
  • Butter Pecan
  • Peach Amaretto
  • Pumpkin

Other Details: Who Sponsored This Event?
Illinois Agri-Women
Illinois Corn Growers Association
Prairie Farms Dairy
Syngenta
Cargill Pork
Illinois Farm Bureau
Mackinson Dairy Farm
Pontiac FFA
Illinois Beef Association
1st Farm Credit
Midwest Dairy Association
Illinois Soybean
Randy & Kathy Faber
JBS United
Erin Ehnle Photography
Livingston County Farm Bureau
Country Financial & Growmark
Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers
Illinois Pork Producers
St. Louis District Dairy Council
Illinois State University – Agriculture Department
John & Linda Olson
That’s So Sweet
Mariah’s Mums & More
Illinois Specialty Growers
Illinois Milk Producers’ Association
Beck’s
Pilot Knob Comforts
Grundy County Farm Bureau
Livingston County DHIA
Woodford County Farm Bureau
Etherton Farms
Marcoot Jersey Creamery
Massie & Quick LLC
Penny & Kris Lauritzen
Barth Farms
Prairie Central Cooperative
Luck-E Holsteins – Engel Family
Michele Aavang
Brian Corkill
Doug & Amy Raber Family
Kelly Sauder Rupiper Equipment, LLC
Lynfred Winery
Sleepy Creek Vineyard
Daniel Erickson

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10 responses to “If You Invite Someone To Dinner . . .

  1. Great job! Where was the food prepared?

    • The chef and crew decided to prepare everything right there at the dining site. We set up tables and they unloaded their mobile kitchen. It was pretty neat to watch everything come together steps away from where we dined.

  2. Thank you for hosting such a lovely event and for inviting me! I had a great time. My husband is still talking about that prime rib. Gloria Duy RDN at OSF Saint James

  3. Katie, who did your logo? Sounds like an awesome event. Congrats!

  4. Amazing! I’m inspired. Can’t wait to try one in Wyoming!

    • Sounds like there are several of these that may pop up around the country. Minnesota is considering it too! Let me know if you have questions. I certainly wouldn’t have all the answers but can share what we learned!

  5. Pingback: #Amplify Jordan Johns, Pontiac FFA, Illinois | Rural Route 2

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