Sunday, March 2, 2014
Fulton native Joe Link has spent his career telling other peoples’ stories.
On March 25, it is Link’s story that will be the focus of attention when he speaks as the Guest of Honor at the 109th Kingdom of Callaway Supper.
A graduate of Fulton High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Link’s career as a rural and agricultural journalist has taken him from Fulton to Florida to Alabama, but he said he is looking forward to returning to Callaway County.
“I never would have expected this — it’s quite an honor,” Link said Friday. “I’m just really looking forward to this. It’ll be fun.”
“(The supper) is a great reflection on the county — I think it’s a great tradition.”
The son of the late Dick and Toni Link, Joe grew up on the family farm just south of Fulton.
After graduating from the journalism school in Columbia, he returned home to serve as first photo editor and then news editor at the Fulton Daily Sun 1977-82.
According to the short biography provided by the Kingdom Supper committee, Link went on to work as managing editor at the Missouri Ruralist. During his career there he received the Writer of the Year award from the American Agricultural Editors’ Association in 1986, and the Photographer of the Year award from 1985-87.
In 1989, Missouri Ruralist’s parent company, HBJ Farm Publications, made him creative director and he moved to Orlando, where he oversaw 11 state farm magazines. He eventually left HBJ as editorial director, moving on to serve as senior editor — and later managing editor — at The Progressive Farmer in 1991.
He won the Oscar in Agriculture in 2000 for his five-part series on people who had influenced agriculture during the 20th century in “Turning the Century.”
Link left The Progressive Farmer in 2008 to start a new career as a freelance writer and photographer. He said he does a lot of work for John Deer’s two publications, The Furrow and The Homestead.
Although he didn’t plan it that way, Link said his upbringing in rural Callaway made his career as an agricultural journalist “a pretty good fit for me.”
Link said the best part of that career has been the connections he has made with the subjects of his stories and photos.
“The one theme that ran through all of it is how open people have been — they’ve shared their lives with me,” Link said. “I’m just really humbled by it, I really am.”
Now that he is being asked to share his life, Link said he is looking forward to reflecting back on his origins — both growing up in Fulton and starting his career here.
“This has made me stop and reflect on growing up. I’m going to talk about going to school at Filmore Grade School with Ron Elliott,” Link said. “It’s made me go back through and look at a lot of my photographs — I’m probably going to bring some of these with me. It’s kind of a neat thing to look at — it’s just a snapshot in time of the late ’70s and early ’80s. I hope everyone else enjoys it.”
Elliott, president of the 109th Kingdom Supper, said he’s known Link since first grade and chose him as the guest of honor not only because of his photojournalism accomplishments, but also his character, saying Link is a “good, honest man.”
“When I was thinking of somebody who could really tell us about the Kingdom, I thought about Joe,” Elliot said.
Tickets for the 2014 Kingdom of Callaway Supper are $15 and are available at the Chamber of Commerce and The Callaway Bank in Fulton, Bank Star One in New Bloomfield, Crane’s Country Store in Williamsburg and Short Stop in Millersburg.
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