OnFocus – Throughout the pandemic, there have been countless numbers of people who have trudged on, providing Americans with products, services and hope. One of those occupations is farming, which is often a thankless job, even though farmers provide numerous products that people take for granted every day.
On Sunday, a local farm was recognized for the work they’ve done during the pandemic. In a heartfelt ad that aired before the Super Bowl, the Hughes Family from Pittsville was on display as one of the heroes of the pandemic.
The over 3-minute ad named, “Essential” aired on CBS at around 2:37 p.m. Central Time ahead of Super Bowl 55.
The Hughes Family, owners of Sunsett Dairy, watched the ad and saw themselves go on national airwaves along with 11 other heroes of the pandemic.
The ad was presented as a “tribute and celebration of the people who are essential that kept life going through the pandemic.”
Seven-time Emmy winner Gareth Hughes connected with Stephanie and Alan Hughes about being a part of the ad. Stephanie said there was no way they could say no when Alan’s cousin approached them with the idea but Gareth’s appreciation for their occupation was what sealed the deal.
“He knows where his food comes from,” Stephanie said. “He knows agriculture is important and he knew that we didn’t stop going during the pandemic. Our jobs are 365/24 hours a day. So he knew we were an essential part of life in general and life during the pandemic.”
Miley Cyrus sang a rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes” as the musical track underlaying the stories of these 12 groups of people. The team filmed 12 different locations and people with different occupations that were essential during the pandemic. Members of the filmmaking crew included: Gareth Hughes (Creative Director), Laura Dunham (Producer), Sean Brennan (Director of Photography) and Josh Glaser (Editor).
Gareth’s roots in agriculture may not always serve him in the film business but in this case, it was perfect for what he was trying to convey to viewers.
“We’re very fortunate because it was Alan’s cousin that was a part of it,” Stephanie said. “The fact that he has roots in agriculture and knows how hard we work and understands our lifestyle. We definitely weren’t going to turn him down because we knew that this was a piece that he was very proud of.”
Stephanie said the ad was a good opportunity to spread the importance of farming on a national level.
“In farming and agriculture, when we have an opportunity to speak on behalf of farmers and on behalf of agriculture, we never say no,” Stephanie said. “It’s important that people know where their food comes from and how agriculture works. There’s such a disconnect from consumer to farmer so we want to just get that grey area filled in a little bit more.”
During the ad, Alan and Stephanie are asked if they view themselves as heroes. They have a laugh while saying, “Goodness, no.” This humility is evident in every person that appeared in the ad as they view themselves as just doing their part to get through the pandemic together.
Stephanie said watching the ad on national television with her kids was a moment she will never forget.
“I was a little nervous because we weren’t able to preview it before [it aired],” Stephanie said. “It was fun sitting down with our kids knowing that we were involved in something so emotional and so powerful. It just had a huge message. It was very touching for people you don’t necessarily think about. And being able to sit down with our kids and having them watch and see themselves on TV especially on a national level is pretty moving.”
The hard work doesn’t stop at the farm for the Hughes family. Alan has been a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard and over the past two years, he has had many deployments in various situations.
During the past year, Alan has assisted at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. for President Biden’s inauguration, he helped in the call center last spring reporting COVID-19 test results and he has been deployed during the Kenosha riots after the shooting of Jacob Blake last August. In 2019, Alan was deployed to Afghanistan.
While Alan is away, Stephanie and her three boys, Bryce, Gavin and Derek hold down the fort. In a Facebook post, Stephanie said, “Can’t say enough about these three dudes who help me so much when their daddy is gone. They are my Heroes!”
Sunsett Dairy will be running a stand at their farm (located 10 miles south of Marshfield on Hwy 80) this summer where people can stop by and pick-up products straight from their farm. If you would like to support the work that Stephanie, Alan and their kids do, visit their Facebook Page for updates on fresh products and events coming up.
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