Michael Roth’s passion is the preservation of agricultural history so that future generations in Montgomery County, Maryland (808,000-plus population adjoining Metropolitan Washington, DC) can appreciate their roots. Roth is not a farmer nor is he retird. He serves as a volunteer in the following capacities: 1) Chairman of Old Timers Exhibit at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, 2) Charter President of the Friends of the Agricultural History Farm Park, 3) producer of the cable television show “Focus on the Farm” for Montgomery Community Television, and 4) personal videotapes made of oral histories by retired farmers.
Michael Roth is chairman of the Old Timers Exhibit Area of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, where he has been involved since 1971. The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair draws about 250,000 patrons annually. The Old Timers Area is a 10,000 square foot display area featuring exhibits of farm and home antiques up to 1950 vintage plus demonstrations of old-time skills. Roth organizes 200 exhibitors and show volunteers into a uniquely popular show with stationary exhibits, ongoing demonstrations, parades, etc. for fair-goers.
In 1994, the Friends of the Agricultural History Farm Park was organized as an advocacy/support group for a farm purchased by the Montgomery County Government to develop into a working farm museum. Roth was elected charter president, a position that he still holds. This organization has approximately 300 members staging 10-12 festivals/events at the farm to both share agricultural heritage with festival attendees and to raise money for the development of displays and restoration of the original building of the farm. He also plays a major role in the planning and conducting of these shows, which are typically each attended by 3,000 to 5,000 people.
Three years ago, Roth began to work with Doug Tregoning, chairman of the Montgomery County Extension Service, to create a farm education show called “Focus on the Farm,” which airs weekly on Montgomery Community Television. There have been 28 shows taped, dealing with many subjects relating to agriculture. Roth and Tregoning help to tape these shows, contacting guests to be on the shows, planning props, etc. Roth has taken classes on how to do taping for cable television, and uses footage that he has personally taped for many shows.
Michael Roth is deeply interested in videotaping oral histories from retired farmers and has used his own camcorder to make these tapes. Sadly, many of the retired farmers whom Roth has taped have passed away, making his work that much more valuable.
Roth works tirelessly to motivate – especially children – to understand their farm heritage when most have never even seen a farm. Activities at events are hands-on as much as possible. Roth’s leadership brings agricultural history and issues alive for an estimated half million people annually. As a volunteer, Roth does all of this on his own time and also involves his family – a wife and three children.