Singer and songwriter, Barry Ward, from Copeland was approached by a film director who wanted to feature Barry's song in his documentary. Fait would have it that the film would premiere in Southwest Kansas, where Barry and his family grew up.
Long ago, singer and songwriter Barry Ward started strumming his guitar strings in his small town of Copeland using his everyday farming experiences as inspiration for many of his songs. His song, Harvest in the Fall, was no exception.
The song — inspired by the last time he saw his uncle harvest, followed by the death of his father — is set to be featured in a documentary that will show at the B&B Theatre in Dodge City Monday, May 26, and Tuesday, May 27.
While attending the U.S. Custom Harvesters Convention in March, Ward performed Harvest In The Fall at The Cowboy Church service. It was then, the producer of the documentary titled, The Great American Wheat Harvest, listened to the country song and immediately knew he wanted it in his film.
"The song came literally after we were done producing the film," Producer Conrad Weaver said. "I was still in need of a closing song – because I like to do credits that people actually watch– it's just the perfect song and perfect end to the movie."
"We were just tickled to death when we found out the movie was going to be featured in Dodge," Victoria, Barry's wife said. "...that's in Barry's backyard."
The Ward's who watched the film in Colby for the first time, feel honored that a song so close to their heart is being featured in a film depicting the lives of farmers during harvesting season – a time that recounts good and personal memories for Barry.
The song that tells the story of his uncle's and father's last harvest also marks the closing days to Ward's harvests. After selling his farm, Ward retired his combine to pick up his guitar and make music full-time.
He and his wife moved to Colorado eight years ago, where they currently reside.
To learn more about Barry Ward and his career visit www.barrywardmusic.com
About the movie
The Great American Wheat Harvest, a documentary that was inspired four years ago, follows the lives of harvesters from Texas to the Canadian border, catching real live moments like when families are faced with everything from bad crops to overcoming unexpected obstacles.
Director and Producer Conrad Weaver says the movie is a behind-the-scenes look at all the adversities farmers face during harvest and the risk they are willing to take in order to provide food for the rest of the world.
According to Weaver, work began in 2011, when shooting began for promotional videos. The following year was the fundraising year for the film, with a total of $300,000 raised with the help of sponsors like U.S. Customs Harvesters and John Deere and 2013 was the traveling year.
"I traveled over 100,000 miles," Weaver said. "I stopped in Dodge City several times, stopped and ate lunch there... the sign east of town is featured in the film."
Stepping on harvest fields was not foreign to Weaver. He was raised on a farm in Ohio and grew up with the annual ritual of harvest.
"I had friends who would harvest, they would come back telling stories of what that life was like," He said. "The farmers and harvesters like the fact that it wasn't my first day on the farm."
The Maryland native producer said that overall, the experience taught him the “amazing tenacity” of farmers.
"I saw the incredible resilience these folks have when things go bad." Weaver said. "This year, that crop is bad, they don't have crop insurance to cover their loss. In Texas, the wheat had been cut because it was frozen or had hail damage, I asked, 'How do you survive?' and they say, 'We'll just have to figure it out.'"
Weaver added that Midwest folks were “a piece of cake” to work with, they were open and welcoming.
"They became my best friends," he said. "I stayed in all their homes, I'm a part of their families – it's been a fantastic experience."