Today we’d like to introduce you to JoAnn Dawson.
Hi JoAnn, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I grew up on a dairy farm in Newark, Delaware, where I learned such great life lessons and acquired my work ethic! I was very active in 4h and FFA, and I am currently a 4th leader.
I, along with my husband Ted, have been a full-time horse stable owner since 1983. We currently own and operate Fairwinds Farm & Stables in North East, Maryland where we offer riding lessons, summer camp, trail rides, horse-drawn carriages, pony rides, hayrides, local honey, birthday parties, weddings, and a bed & breakfast. (www.fairwindsstables.com)
Fairwinds Farm has been honored as a national finalist in the 2015 Time to Ride Challenge, an inductee of the 2015 Cecil County Business Hall of Fame, 2011 Cecil County Tourism Business of the Year and 2009 Outstanding Farm Operation, and has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and on Good Morning America.
I also work as an animal wrangler for film and TV, and as a Screen Actors Guild member have held principal acting roles in The Sixth Sense, 12 Monkeys, and Oprah Winfrey’s Beloved. I am the author of the award-winning Lucky Foot Stable series for ages 8-12 and I love appearing at schools and book signings with my pony, Butterscotch to encourage young people to read and write.
I am a former columnist for Cecil Soil Magazine, an appointee to the MD Equine Advisory Committee, a LEAD Maryland fellow, a board member for Cecil County Economic Development Commission and Cecil County Tourism, and I travel with a presentation called Bed, Breakfast & Beyond: Twenty years of Kooky Guests, Gentle Ghosts, and Horses in Between – based on my most recent book of the same name.
I teach both Equine Science and Acting for Stage and Screen at Cecil College in North East, right down the road from my farm! Actually, my equine students have the advantage of coming here for hands-on experience with a variety of horses.
The most exciting thing happening currently is the upcoming filming of a screenplay that I wrote called Cream of the Crop. It will shoot in Cecil County this July and should be out early next year! It’s a story dear to my heart, about the preservation of farmland for future generations, with some humor, romance, and adventure thrown in!
My best accomplishment is being the mother of two wonderful sons, Zach and Nick. I am so proud of their accomplishments and thankful to them that by the end of this year, I will be the grandmother of three grandsons!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
There are always day-to-day challenges in running a business, writing a book, teaching a class, speaking at a conference, filming a script, being a parent or whatever happens to be on the plate. I love meeting challenges and solving problems. My husband says I am the “queen of multi-tasking” and I think that is a great compliment. The key to our success is that we love what we do, we communicate with each other, we are both work-a-holics, and at the end of the day we can laugh about almost anything. We have never met a challenge or obstacle that we have not been able to overcome together.
Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Fairwinds Farm & Stables, Inc.?
I think the biggest change in our operations in the past six years has been the increase in weddings on the farm and the decrease of growing our own produce and running horse shows. We love offering our farm for weddings and other events, and we love hosting people in our B&B.
It’s a great thing to be able to educate people about the farm way of life.
From May-October, we host an average of 20 weddings, converting our riding ring into a reception area.
Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
I have learned how to be patient when dealing with the public, how to delegate some of my responsibilities, how to not “sweat the small stuff” and how to be grateful for every blessing that comes my way. I’ve learned through world travel to not see people as races or colors or religions or sexes but simply as people with the same loves, desires, dreams and goals that we all have. I’ve also learned what it says on a poster in my house: “There is only one success: to be able to spend your life your own way.”
- B&B: 125/night
- Trail rides and lessons: $40/person/hr.
- Weddings: $5,000-$6,500
- Birthday parties: $325
- Summer camp: $360/wk.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.fairwindsstables.com
- Instagram: @fairwindsstables
- Facebook: @fwstables or Fairwinds Farm & Stables
- Youtube: Fairwinds Farm & Stables
Jane Bellmyer at the Cecil Whig