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Small Town Celebration is an Annual Blessing

Snow Hill, Md., event celebrates 23 years

September 2023

From left, Georgia, Lola and Amelia of Snow Hill, Md., show their support of local farmers. Photos by Gregg MacDonald.

Once every year, massive agricultural machines roll into tiny Snow Hill, Md., (population 2,200), where they park in the middle of town for a blessing from an association of local clergy. The event is called the “Blessing of the Combines” and it just celebrated its 23rd year. The all-day festival begins with a parade of tractors, local floats and huge combines.

Combines are complex modern farming machines that literally “combine” three harvesting functions simultaneously. They reap (cut and gather), thresh (separate grain from the stalk) and winnow (separate any remaining debris from the grain). These massive machines, which can cost upwards of $500,000 each, can cut a 40-foot-wide swath through a crop field. They have become essential to many modern farmers.

Following the parade, the massive machines are blessed and then local dignitaries say a few words. This year, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin M. Atticks was the keynote speaker. “I really enjoy this event,” Atticks says. “Agriculture is very important to Snow Hill, as it is for all of Maryland.”

Donna Richardson West and Kris Amstel.

After the blessing, Snow Hill becomes one giant street fair, celebrating the American farmer. The festival is attended by local farmers from Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, as well as about 4,000 local and nearby residents.

Choptank Electric Cooperative board member Donna Richardson West, a Snow Hill resident who is also part of a local farming family, attends every year. She says her farm has its own large combine, although this year, it was not in the parade.

“I still came out to support our local farmers,” she says.