MILLERSBURG — Dean and Kate Rink would gladly live their lives out of the limelight, quietly working on their picturesque and productive farm in Millersburg.
But that’s just not possible.
As fourth generation farmers heavily invested in the community and county as well as in their family and farm, they’ve been awarded, given accolades and honors and written up in local papers enough times that even they are a little bewildered with all the attention.
“I’m not sure I quite understand it,” said Kate, “There are many deserving farm families in this area.”
The latest honor goes to Dean who was chosen as grand marshal for the Millersburg Farmer’s Day parade this Saturday.
It’s an honor he shares with another family member.
“My mother, Irma, was named grand marshal in 1988,” Dean said. “She would have been happy to hear about this.”
For Irma, Kate said, being in the limelight was difficult.
“She was such an amazing woman, but she struggled with accepting the honor,” Kate said. “I think she made peace with it because it brought an awareness to farming and the community of Millersburg.”
Dean and Kate share that love and have been active members of the community for most of their lives.
For more than 30 years, Dean has been an integral part of Farmer’s Day.
“I used to get the pigs, build the fence and conduct the greased pig contest,” said Dean, recalling one of his favorite memories. “I also helped out a lot with the parade. Really, I was just available for anything that needed to be done. I helped out where I could.”
Dean was a volunteer fireman on the Clinton Township department for 26 years and has been on the township advisory board for the past 10 years.
Growing up, Dean and his father fed more than 500 cattle a day. Today Dean and Kate along with their son Aaron, as well as full-time employee Max Kritzman, farm 800 acres of corn, soybeans and hay.
The couple’s four grown children, Aaron, Westin, Kristen and Tricia grew up in a family dedicated to hard work on the farm as well as learning the value of supporting the community, county and church.
And they still found plenty of time for fun.
“I’m even now hearing new stories about things that happened while the kids were growing up!” Kate said.
All the couple’s children were 10-year 4-H members.
“Growing up here gave the kids a hard work ethic,” Dean said. “And that’s something some families don’t have the opportunity to experience.”
Both Dean and Kate are active in their church and Dean has held various offices over the years. The couple heads to the Dominican Republic each year for mission work.
Currently, 18-year-old Dominican native Richard Raposa lives with the Rinks working on the farm and preparing to attend Goshen College to study graphic design.
“Dean is just a great example of helping others and putting other people before himself,” Kate said.
For Dean, the honor of being named grand marshal is humbling.
“I really feel privileged to represent the farming community in Millersburg,” Dean said. “This community has integrity when it comes to helping each other. It is a great small-town atmosphere to raise a family. It’s a place where neighbors know and support each other.”
The Rinks have felt that support in many ways, including all the awards they’ve received over the years.
In 1996, Dean was named Citizen of the Year. In 2001 the entire family was named Millersburg Farm Family of the Year. And in 2003 the Rinks were chosen as the Elkhart County 4-H Farm Family of the Year.
Representing Millersburg as an active community member and farmer is a goal that Dean has definitely fulfilled in his lifetime.
“Often times there’s stress involved in this occupation,” Dean said about his work as a farmer. “But at the same time it is very rewarding. You see your hard work pay off in many ways.”
That’s not just about the bottom line.
“It’s isn’t all about raising a crop. It’s about raising a family and influencing the community around you,” Dean said. “I want to feel like I made a difference in the lives of the people in this community.”
The Rinks will be leading the Millersburg Farmer’s Day parade in a horse-drawn carriage. The parade through downtown Millersburg begins at 11 a.m.
Schedule of events
All events are at Cook Station Park unless otherwise noted.
z 5 to 9 p.m. — Car show and cruise-in
z 5 p.m. — Kids games open
z 5 p.m. — Corn hole tournament
z 6 p.m. — Frozen T-shirt contest
z 6 p.m. — Scott Lehman and the Tumbleweed Jumpers
z 6 a.m. — Pancake and sausage breakfast, Millersburg American Legion Post 484
z 7 a.m. — Softball tournament
z 10 a.m. — Vendors open
z 11 a.m. — Parade, downtown Millersburg
z 1 p.m. — Kids games start
z 1 to 2 p.m. — Aaron Stutzman “The Yodeler” & Band
z 2 p.m. — Heartland Country Cloggers
z 2 p.m. — Pony Pull
z 2 p.m. — Garden tractor pull, Blessing Street south of Cook Station Park
z 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Pawnshop Prize Band
z 3:30 to 4 p.m. — Fairfield Fusion
z 4 p.m. — Pie baking contest
z 4 to 5 p.m. — Heaven Bound Band
z 5 to 6 p.m. — Hearstring Bluegrass Band
z 6 p.m. — Raffle drawings
z 7 to 10 p.m. — Sam Hicks & The Travelin’ Band
z 10 p.m. — Fireworks