March 15, 2012 by Terry Ropp
About a year ago, I wrote a column about a dinner at my house with the planners of the National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress, which took place in early February this year. About 200 farmers at- tended, but the interesting part is what took place behind the scenes.
Larry was the “on-site” man and solved many of the last minute issues.
One issue was getting people to help serve as ambassadors on Thursday night at the welcome party. He asked around and got West Fork residents Calvin Tackett and Dr. Lloyd Keck as well as Prairie Grove residents Tony Cunningham and Serea Clark along with her three children Madison, Garrett, and Ethan to help. The three men walked around and greeted people while Serea and her children helped pass out a table full of welcome gifts donated by local merchants and organizations.
The biggest issue had to do with music for the Friday night Mexican fiesta. Larry thought he had the live Mexican music arranged about two months before the event. As the night approached and he couldn’t reconfirm, he got the feeling that the no one would show up or tell us ahead of time – which was exactly what happened.
By five o’clock no band could be found. Larry spied a young man named Eric Vargas waiting to deliver room service. Larry went up and asked him if he knew any mariachi bands. Eric explained the only ones he knew were in Tulsa. Then Eric spied me and told Larry he had had me as a substitute teacher at Harbor High School in Springdale before he graduated. I guess that made him feel like the situation was safe or something because he volunteered, “My dad plays for weddings and stuff, but not mariachi music.”
Larry tried not to pounce on Eric but was almost squirming with eagerness to get live music. Eric called his father and said his dad would find a couple of other musicians to play and would be there as soon as possible. It was now 5:30 and the impromptu trio arrived by 6:30.
Eric’s dad seemed really nervous about starting so Larry found someone in the kitchen to translate explaining the people did not know one kind of Mexican music from another and to just play – which they did. The crowd loved the lively music and the cheery, outgoing singer. They clapped and danced and had a great time, as did the trio once they realize how appreciated they were.
The scene was really amusing because many of the farmers dressed in costume including long skirts, huge sombreros, and fake mustaches. The night accomplished its purpose. People relaxed, had fun, greeted old friends and made new ones. All too soon the congress was over and the people dispersed … until next year, when they will meet in Albuquerque, New Mexico.