|By TIM THORNBERRY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More than 157,000 spectators from around the world made their way to Churchill Downs last Saturday for the 132nd Kentucky Derby; and, to the delight of many state farmers, they were treated to a variety of foods from across the Commonwealth thanks to Downs Chef Gil Logan and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s (KDA) Kentucky Proud program.
Logan has been instrumental in touting the Kentucky Proud products as a way to bring fresh, local commodities to the track for the entire racing season and adopted the slogan Eat Kentucky for this year’s Derby.
“We want to show how proud we are of our food in this state,” said Logan.
This year newcomers to the Kentucky Proud line of products at the Derby included Mooney’s Pickle Dip from Louisville and their one-of-a-kind bourbon cheese and the Ruth Hunt Candy Co. of Mount Sterling with a creation of chocolate spires that mimic the famous twin spires at Churchill Downs.
“Gil Logan is the number one promoter of Kentucky Proud,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer.
“He has introduced the great taste of Kentucky Proud foods to people from all over the world plus a global television audience. We can’t say enough about what he has meant to the success of Kentucky Proud.”
Other products served at the Downs included country ham from Finchville Farms, mushrooms from Washington Co. producer Mark Wheatley, jams and jellies from WindStone Farms of Paris, coffee and tea from John Conti Coffee of Louisville, sauces from Pop’s Pepper Patch of Louisville, ice cream from Valentine’s Ice Cream of Winchester, pork and sausages from John Medley’s Heritage Meats in Springfield, assorted sweets from Desserts by Helen of Louisville and Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese of Austin.
“Selling to Churchill Downs is a big boost to our company,” said Kenny Mattingly, owner of Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese. “Last year we sent four or five shipments to them. That’s about 15 percent of what we produce. Real chefs want to use local products, it’s a part of their make-up to do that.”
Mattingly came to Barren Co. with his family from Indianapolis as a child and has been in the dairy business for over 30 years.
“I had left the farm for a few years and during that time I got a different perspective on farming. I knew we had to add value to our product or get bigger and buy more equipment,” he said.
Mattingly began making cheese in 1998 and has a cheese shop next to the barn.
“KDA worked with Chef Gil and he liked our products,” said Mattingly. “The Kentucky Proud program has provided an incentive for buyers to get started with local commodities. We sell at farmers’ markets, from our website and our store, but the benefit of word-of-mouth works the best. Our best customers are the first ones we ever had.”
The Kentucky Proud program is a marketing effort for farm products that are grown, raised or processed in the state with more than 500 members. For more information about the program, call the KDA’s marketing office at 502-564-4983 or visit their website at www.kyproud.com
This farm news was published in the May 10, 2006 issue of Farm World.