I got one of my all-time favorite blog posts out of Ag Field Day. And now I'm really glad I chronicled it as it was, because it's about to change for the bigger.
Rutgers University used to be made up of a bunch of semi-autonomous colleges, and each one had its own festivities. The ag school and the women's college were right next to each other, so they had their big annual event on the same day. Ag Field Day and the New Jersey Folk Festival were so widely loved that they continued after the colleges that started them got swallowed by the university's central administration.
(Any fantasy writer who wants to learn about the power struggles between autocratic rulers and the fiefdoms within their realms need look no further than her nearest university.)
Now, in a fit of re-branding, the university is inaugurating Rutgers Day. Maybe it will be wonderful. It will certainly be large. One of the things we all loved about Ag Field Day was that it gathered so many people together into a space small enough for a real sense of one-day festival community to arise. Rutgers Day will involve buses to connect the several different campuses that sprawl through patches of three municipalities. I just keep telling myself, maybe it will be wonderful. Maybe.
But I'll be sticking to the Cook and Douglass campuses, where the Rutgers Day organizers say the traditional festivities will go on as they have for decades. This year, Gareth's old enough to enjoy seeing the baby animals in the barns, and to jump around to the live music.
If frolicking lambs, dulcimer-making workshops, and experimental ice cream from the Food Science department aren't enough to bring you out to a New Brunswick greensward on a day predicted to be sunny in the low 80s, try this: There are rumors that the famous Ramapo tomato variety that Rutgers is bringing back from near-extinction will be available from the New Jersey Master Gardeners' plant sale booth. If that rumor pans out, I can forgive Rutgers for Rutgers Day.