RARITAN TWP. – Lifelong farmer Charles Rogers, a township resident, was honored with the Roger Everitt Award at this year’s Hunterdon County 4-H and Agricultural Fair.
The award was instituted in 2004 by Everitt, a key organizer of the fair and its president until he died in March 2017.
The fair moved in 2004 to South County Park in East Amwell, and has since been re-named Roger K. Everitt Fairgrounds.
Rogers, a longtime friend of Everitt, was not involved with running the fair at the very start but “Roger wanted me to the join the board” and he agreed to, he said in an interview Thursday.
Rogers was elected a director and just retired from that post a couple years ago. Rogers, his wife, Joan, and their three children in 1980 moved to the farm here from near Pennington in Hopewell Township, where he had farmed with his father. Charles, 78, was a dairy farmer for many years, eventually giving up his herd to concentrate on crop farming. He raises hay, corn and a little wheat. His son, Kenny, is a machinist but works part-time harvesting crops for other farmers and raising soybeans on his own property.
One daughter, Janet Wengryn, now has a dairy herd on her parents’ farm. Another daughter, Sandy, is an assistant bank manager in Washington state.
Rogers was very active in the dairy cow part of the fair for many years, helping with the shows and barn operations. Now he’s cut back on that but still works to keep the barn and area clean and tidy.
“My granddaughter, Kristina (Wengryn) is more involved now in dairy show planning and the barn lay-out,” he noted. She also serves on the Fair board.
“I was really shocked” to be selected for the award, Rogers said. “Roger and I were friends” which made the honor special. “I was pleased and surprised.” Fair President Bob Hoffman, a Tewksbury resident, made the presentation to him on the Fair’s Main Stage Thursday, Aug. 23.
First, he said, he checked with Everitt’s wife, Alice, about the proposed selection. She overwhelmingly approved. Hoffman described Rogers as somebody who “still really cares about the fair and the 4-H program and agriculture, in Hunterdon County and elsewhere.”
Kathy Everitt Kovacs, a daughter of the first president, also spoke at the presentation. “There’s an old saying, ‘many hands make light work.’ Well, it’s people like Charlie, and Bob and Dan (Torrone, who arranges the Main Stage entertainment) and all the people on the committee and so many, many others that make this happen. We are so grateful.
“I know my dad’s spirit is here. He ordered the (pleasant) weather for us this week and we thank him for that.”
The Hunterdon fair is successor to the Flemington Fair and for first four years was held at the Flemington property. As a lasting tribute, the county Freeholders named the park property for Everitt after his death.