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Article 4 of 7: Sparta Celebrates 175 Years

Over the past 175 years agriculture has played a major role in the history of Sparta Township. Many area farms have been owned and operated by the same family for generations. In 1917 the Carnation Milk Company built a plant in Sparta, conveniently located near the train yards on the corner of East Gardner and Prospect. Area dairy farmers provided milk to Carnation and to small family dairies in the village. Other agriculture related businesses located in the area were the stockyards and feed mill. Throughout the years dairy farming has evolved from milking by hand to today’s modern, large farms with automated milking equipment. Throughout the 1940’s and 50’s Sparta held an annual Farmer’s Day. It was an event exemplifying friendship and goodwill between farmers and townsfolk. Events that took place were horse pulling, cattle judging, the traditional Farmer’s vs. Merchant’s softball game played at Balyeat Field followed by music and entertainment. It was during the 1950’s when they began the crowning of the Apple Queen. The Apple Queen also made an appearance at the annual Peach Ridge Apple Smorgasbord, an event that local growers and their families looked forward to each year. Notable attendees were Governors, Congressman and agriculture Dignitaries. Agriculture has progressed in many ways over the years but one thing remains the same, the love of farming. Whether a farmer produces milk, fruit or grain agriculture has played a large role in the history of Sparta Township over the past 175 years. Many area farms have been owned and operated by the same family for generations. “I believe that farming, despite it’s hardships and disappointments is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on earth”... Taken from the Farmer’s Cree

By JoAnne VanderWerff & Jayne Heath


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