OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) — Mirror, mirror on the wall – turns out the the fairest farmer in all of Kentucky was right in Owensboro all along.

Gary Cecil of Cecil Farms was awarded Kentucky Farmer of the Year by the Sunbelt Ag Expo. A feat he describes as a humbling experience that exceeds his wildest dreams.

Cecil says, “Oh! It was kinda emotional the guy called me and he said D1 Farmer of the Year I said for the county he said no for the state. And it was kind of a silence there and he said well maybe this’ll soak in later on. I said oh I apologize I said yeah I guess it will.”

With over 50 years of expertise under his belt, Cecil says year one started with just 10 acres of rented tobacco land and a heart for farming so large he was willing to haul hay for others. Today, he’s responsible for over 2,000 acres of farm land.

Cecil says, “We raise about a thousand-50 acres of soy beans and about 950 of corn, yellow corn, and we have about 20 acres of mixed vegetables from tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers all sorts of, then we have like 475 acres of watermelon, regular, seedless watermelon.”

Cecil says he’ll find himself back in front of judges in just a few weeks to compete for Sunbelt Ag Expo’s overall Farmer of the Year. The judges will fly to nine other states — including Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas — to give lengthy interviews and tour the farms of those in the running.

With his family doubling as business partners, Cecil says, outside of hard work, he said what the key to success is.

Cecil says, “The communication part is the issue. Just you gotta stay in touch… cellphones do that very well.”

He notes having a workforce that doubles as family doesn’t hurt either.

Cecil says, “We got some really good workers a lot of these workers, H2A guys, they’ve been with us for 29 years… We’re very fortunate and I mean this could not be without them.”