For farmers, no sleight of hand
Magic act teaches where goods come from
By Barb Amrhein, Amarillo Globe-News
A fair isn’t complete without rides and food. But many folks don’t know where their food comes from.
Joyce Rice, better known as the “Ag Magician,” is at this year’s Tri-State Fair and Rodeo, “dressed pretty as pig,” as she entertains audiences and teaches fair visitors to “Thank a farmer.”
“What’s this?” Rice, a sixth-generation farmer, asked a group of 150 prekindergarten students Monday morning from her small stage in the Rex Baxter Building at the fairgrounds.
“Lipstick!” The children replied.
“Yes, and shiny part of lipstick is glycerin. Which comes from a pig. So go home and tell your mother she’s pretty as a pig,” Rice said.
Rice performed magic tricks for the audience, but there’s no magic in the show without the words “Thank a farmer.”
Rice and her daughter, Rhonda Renee Ross, travel the country promoting their “Thank a Farmer” trademark.
“Our purpose is teaching about agriculture and putting a face to farmers,” Rice said. “The magic words are ‘thank a farmer.’ We want a national thank a farmer day every November 20.”
The mother-daughter movement is gaining acceptance.
“Seventeen states now recognize a Thank a Farmer Day, and Texas is one of those,” Rice said.
The mother and daughter team is developing a program for schools to show in November to teach children, who in a more urbanized society, may not appreciate farmers or know the products people wear, eat and enjoy come from farms and ranches.
Rice, who grew up in Iowa as a farm daughter, was a baton twirler with the Harlem Globetrotters after graduating from Iowa State University. She changed her baton tricks to rope spinning and whip tricks.
“I did them on the Jay Leno show 10 years ago,” Rice said.
But her passion now is a return to her roots and teaching farm facts with her daughter, who writes farm facts in books published by Thank a Farmer Books.
Monday morning’s first audience enjoyed her passion, facts and farm-related magic tricks.
“We wanted to bring them (students) to something exciting and educational,” said Carver Elementary Academy teacher Tiffany Allen. “We were able to see the Ag Magician, the Southwest Dairy Farmers and vegetables.”
Alea Meyers, 5, and Benton Meyers, 3, came to the show with their mother, Erin Meyers, and were excited to share what they learned from Rice’s performance.
“I saw eggs,” Benton said. “They come from chickens.”
Alea picked up some tips on the major role that farming plays in the clothing industry.
“I learned clothes come from a farmer, and then the farmer puts them in the store so we can buy them,” Alea said.
And, what did the ag-magician say about the clothes?
“Thank goodness you all wore clothes today. Thank a farmer for those clothes.”