Jefferson County Farm Bureau recognizes Rozsa
Drive-in movie lots have been famous for offering entertainment since the 1940s, but now the Farm Bureau annual meetings in Jefferson and Harrison counties are trying to adapt the format to allow presentations.
Members stay in their car and listen to an AM radio station, with Corky Saiter, president, taking charge. When asked for a vote they blow the car horn. It’s just another example of changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to remain socially distanced. That means there can be no dinners and program speakers where the audience is seated close together.
But that doesn’t mean the Farm Bureau is not able to recognize members who have gone above and beyond what is needed or have participated in farming programs. At the 2020 Jefferson County event, Joseph “Joe” Rozsa was honored as the man of the hour at the early September meeting held on the midway of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
The road to the Member of Distinction award can be traced back to 1960, when he purchased a Gator and found that he could get a $500 discount if he was a Farm Bureau member. He still carries the Farm Bureau membership in his wallet 60 years later. After that, a purchase of 80 acres of farm land was acquired from the owners of the Kithcart farm. He planted corn and hay and was one of the first farmers to convert to round hay bales.
“We planted a little of everything back then” he said.
A dairy barn was added and many buildings were needed to hold tools and equipment, and for storage of supplies and other items.
“I met my wife, Betty Soka, at the Bradley Miners Hall, where they played lively polka music. She became my wife and helped with the farming, along with raising five children and taking part in the ladies groups that concerned farming. There was a farming tour, a hay ride, a program and tables of food that held just about everything,” Rozsa said.
Receiving the award was appropriate at the fairgrounds, because he has been a member of the Jefferson County fair board for years. Betty was the additional attractions chairman when they moved to the new grounds from the Smithfield land and many groups played there.
“She started the Beautiful Baby contest that continues today,” he remembered.
The couple belonged to a Farm Bureau Council until those organizations were discontinued. She was a 4-H adviser with the Smithsonian 4-H Club and many members raised cattle that went into the auction ring.
Joe looked a bit sad when mentioning a 75th Rozsa reunion that should have been held this year but had to be canceled due to the pandemic.
“We started with it at our farm, but with families growing, we had to move to Friendship Park. The kids liked it better at our place because we had the hayrides there,” he explained.
Rozsa now rents out his land to the Kithcart brothers, who have enlarged their farm that adjoins the Rozsa land.
The children and grandchildren come to visit and the children try to get him to sell the farm and move from the big farm house, but he has many memories there.
“I wouldn’t know what to do without this big house and land,” he said.