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Hundreds of youth coming to local farm

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Dustin Antle installs the bolt to lock the center pole in position Monday for the Harvest Teen Rally.
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Harvest Teen Rally Director Sam Caldwell, center,uses a Bobcat tolift the center pole for the big tent as volunteers prepare for Saturday’s Harvest Teen Rally.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

MILTON — Labor Day for volunteers from Milton Community Bible Church, Grace Baptist Church in New Castle and others means gathering at the Buck Farm to set up for the annual Harvest Teen Rally, which is Saturday.

The annual event draws nearly 500 youth plus youth leaders for a day of fun, food and to hear a youth evangelist.

Begun in 1982 by David and Sandy Buck on their farm on Beeson Station Road because they had a burden to reach the youth for Christ, David continued to lead the program until a farming accident in 2003 claimed his life. His son-in-law Brent Olsen became the director. Brent and Mandy Olsen moved to South Carolina and Sam Caldwell took over. This will be his sixth Harvest as leader.

Caldwell said with the 75-100 volunteers from Grace Baptist and 50-75 from  Community Bible, about 800 people will descend on the farm for 38th annual event.

“When I was younger and involved with it, I made life-changing decisions and many took places on this field,” he said.

Labor Day is the last big vacation weekend of the year for many people but they give up that day off work to come and work, Caldwell said.

“They see teenagers making better decisions for their lives,” he said. “What you see at the end of the week on Saturday, they know the work is hard but they know the work is worth it as they see lives changed. It’s their love for God and love people to make the right decisions.”

Dustin Antle climbed the ladder to put a bolt in the centerpole to lock it in place. This is his seventh year to volunteer.

“I just enjoy giving the time to benefit the youth,” he said. “The kids hearing the gospel means a lot to me.”

He normally coordinates the parking Saturday morning and then helps wherever needed. “This Saturday will be the first time in seven years not to be able to help because I’m in a wedding for my best friend.”

Will Galkin from Salt Lake City will return to Harvest to speak to the teens under the big tent, Caldwell said. His most recent visit to the rally came in 2013. He brings with him a team who will lead the music.

He will speak during three worship services, beginning at 9 a.m. and with the final service ending at 5 p.m.

Several games will be available, including four-on-four laser tag, Caldwell said.

The local teen rally led to the formation of rallies in Brazil and Wakarusa, Indiana; Illinois, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. In earlier days, Buck and Olsen would take the tent to those locations. Now, some have their own tents and games. But when the tent comes down after the kids have left, a group from Illinois will send a truck and trailer to pick up the big tent, a few smaller tents and some of the games for their own Harvest Teen Rally on Sept. 14, Caldwell said.

But the Harvest Teen Rally has also branched out to benefit area churches.

“In the spring and summertime, I will take some of our smaller tents and inflatables out to churches for vacation Bible school or church outreach events,” he said. “During the summer, we will be at seven or eight churches mostly in Indiana and some in western Ohio.”

Information about Harvest Teen Rally is available at www.harvestteenrally.com.