Several years ago, I had the opportunity to host a group of guests from Greece for a tour of the U.S. The group was made up of cotton ginners, textile mill personnel, a few agronomists and others in the Greek cotton industry. I ended up being the person who accompanied the group throughout their tour. We started by giving them a view of our facilities in the Mississippi Delta and then headed to Lubbock, TX for see the largest cotton patch & learn all sorts of things! On the way back to the Delta from Lubbock, we stopped in Dumas, Arkansas to see a cotton gin.
I’ve toured several other cotton gins and I don’t remember this one as being dramatically different at the time. I do however, remember Curtis Stewart, the cotton ginner who hosted us. He is a great guy and I expected that from the first time we talked by phone. When we arrived, he was incredibly hospitable. He was also able to laugh a bit with us when the bus left one of our Greek ginners behind inadvertently. Those stories are the sort of things that make a typical tour stop stand out.
Curtis is usually at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences and I can’t remember the last gin show where I didn’t catch up with him. From such a random connection, we’ve become friends who talk about what’s going on in cotton and what’s happening in the Dumas, AR area.
At this year’s gin show, I asked if he’d mind sharing that conversation more broadly. I explained about the blog & my recent post about the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show and how the industry uses the event. He said he’d look for it when he got home (he even commented!) I asked if he’d mind talking to me on camera a few minutes so I could share his views on an upcoming blog.
I wondered if Curtis was one in a million… but then the crosses my mind, there are just approximately 700 cotton gins. From there I need to narrow it down more because lots of cotton ginners love their industry, are hopeful about the future and look to build understanding about agriculture. Those people are far easier to find than you may think and I love that I get to help them reach a bigger audience. I think we just need to look around & ask people to share their story.