It took a while for the idea to spread to the Midwest. In summer 1960, Ferringer was one of nine high school ag teachers invited to a meeting by the Ripley County extension agent to plan Farm-City Week events. As the only one who attended, he gathered a committee, which hosted the first banquet Nov. 22, 1960, at the former Westwood Elementary School, now Batesville Intermediate School.
The annual dinner later was held at St. Louis School, then St. John’s United Church of Christ, Huntersville. According to Ferringer, “One year we had a poster contest for the youth. Another time we had a grain show.” Other activities included tours of local farms and industries. He believed Batesville’s banquet is one of the oldest Farm-City events in the U.S.
Charles “Shorty” Whittington, Grammer, owner of Batesville Aviation Services, was the keynote speaker. He reported he asked his wife, “‘Can you believe in your wildest dreams I’d be invited to speak at a program like this?’ She said, ‘Shorty, you’ve never been in my wildest dreams.’”
No stranger to agriculture, Whittington has lived on a farm since he was 2. “We used to raise sweet corn and tomatoes.” One year the family picked 90 acres of tomatoes by hand.The former FFA chapter president attended a two-room school in Grammer that had outhouses. The Columbus High School and Purdue University graduate was Purdue Pete as a senior.
In 1972, the self-made man began a grain and trucking business and became the Indiana Motor Truck Association chairman.
The owner and president of Integrity Biofuels, Morristown, started the plant in 2005. He called the venture “the most rewarding ... and hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never lost so much money in my life, but it’s coming around. I can produce 12,000 gallons out of soybean oil, enough to run every tractor and truck in this room! That’s what agriculture is all about.”