WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Dedication to Crawford County’s farming community is the common thread that ties together this year’s winners of the Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame and Ag-Industry awards.

Bush Insurance of Cambridge Springs was honored with the Ag-Industry Award while the Larry and Mary Kathryn Crom family, and Daniel and Loretta Dickey, all of the Espyville area, received Hall of Fame awards in ceremonies Sunday afternoon at the Crawford County Fairgrounds.

The Hall of Fame award honors those with exemplary records of service to the local agricultural community; the Ag-Industry Award honors longtime businesses that demonstrate both excellent customer service and that have given back to the agricultural community.

Winners are chosen from nominations submitted by those active in local agriculture.

Though the winners previously had been announced, each express both surprise and humility in accepting their respective honors.

Gene Kozacki, a co-owner of Bush Insurance with Gregg Gordon and Dick Perry, said the firm wouldn’t have its nearly 100-year history as an independent insurance business without the region’s farming community. The firm has more than 450 active family farms as clients as well as many of the businesses that support farming.

“They’re the most loyal customers we have — they make it easy for us,” Kozacki said of the farming community.

In turn, the agency and its 11 employees, who are all licensed insurance agents, work as advocates on behalf of their farm-community clients customers with different insurance companies.

“Our relationship with the people we meet every day is most important to us,” Kozacki said.

While this year’s Hall of Fame winners have lengthy farming community service, they also expressed modesty for the honors bestowed upon them.

“It’s overwhelming to be considered for this,” Daniel Dickey said in accepting the award.

Dickey noted his cousin, Carl Hurlbert, was the initial recipient of the award in 1981. Also, Hurlbert and co-inductee Larry Crom were instrumental in helping Dickey get started in farming.

Dickey and his wife, Loretta, have operated the family farm since 1974.

Both have been involved in the Crawford County Holstein Club on the local and state levels. Dan has been a leader of the Pymatuning 4-H Club for 51 years. Both have served as advisers of the Crawford County Junior Holstein Club, assisting with the state junior Holstein conventions, junior judging schools, championship shows or Erie County shows.  

Loretta has served as a coach for the Dairy Bowl teams for both Crawford County’s 4-H and Junior Holstein teams, and was instrumental in helping to propel the very first state Junior Holstein Convention into existence.

Dan currently serves as the president of the Jamestown Community Fair and is a North Shenango Township supervisor.

Larry Crom, who retired from farming in 2013, said induction into the Hall of Fame was something he never even considered possible.

“I never thought as a 4-H’er at the Crawford County Fair, I’d come to be up here,” he said in accepting the award on the stage at the Youth Show Arena.

Crom and his wife, Mary Kathryn, operated Cromdell Farms where he was a partner with his father, Lauree, beginning in 1961 following his graduation from Penn State University with a degree in dairy production.

Following a barn fire which destroyed their North Shenango Township milking barn, they purchased their South Shenango Township Farm. Crom milked cows and operated both farms until 1998 when he sold the cattle and began to crop farm for two or three years.  

Crom was a leader of the Pymatuning 4-H Club for 30 years and the couple’s four daughters exhibited dairy cattle and participated in Crawford County Dairy Judging Teams and 4-H State Achievement Days.

Larry and Mary Kathryn served on many agricultural related boards and are also involved in numerous community activities.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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