On November 3, the Hillsborough County Fair was kicked off with the 2022 Harvest Awards Presentation and Luncheon. Jake and Melissa Rayburn acted as masters of ceremonies. Melissa said, “Over the years, I have watched the county fair grow. This is an opportunity to celebrate people who have done some extraordinary things in the areas of agriculture and farming.”
The Farm Family of the Year was presented by Hillsborough County Board of County Commission Commissioner Stacy White and was awarded to Sammy and Jeff Busciglio.
Sixty-seven years ago, the Busciglio family started Tower Dairy in Palm River. Back then, Hillsborough County was home to 60 dairy farms, and now there are none. The Busciglio family has relocated to Georgia. Tower Dairy was the last dairy farm in Hillsborough County. For their support of youth involved in farming, the family was given this year’s award.
Next, the Lifetime Achievement in Agriculture was awarded to Helen Parke by Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, who said, “It is an honor to present this award to an amazing lady and iconic figure, the matriarch of the Parke family dynasty.” Chronister added, “Even in her 90s, the farm spirit emerges. She remains active.” The Parkesdale Farm Market, which Parke helped build, was established in 1963.
The Outstanding Woman in Agriculture was given by Jackie Barron of Mosaic to Michelle Williamson. She is the operations manager for G&F Farms. She is also the secretary for the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board. Williamson is active in promoting all areas of agriculture and farming.
The Outstanding Young Farmer was awarded to Joshua Griffin by Simon Bollin, agriculture industry development manager. Young started farming at the age of 7 when he entered his first swine at the Florida State Fair. He has traveled the world promoting agriculture and will receive his bachelor’s degree this fall.
The Outstanding Public and Community Service Award was given to St. Vincent de Paul Faith & Grace Garden in Temple Terrace. The award was presented by Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera, who grew up in Temple Terrace. Ground was broken on the garden in 2019. It is 100 percent volunteer operated and serves 600 families each month.
In addition to these awards, Memorial Tributes were given to Al Berry, Vernon Blackadar, Perry Buttram and Bruce and Susan Harrell. Finally, Greg Messick, Hillsborough County Fair president, presented 11 Friends of the Fair awards.