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The Comeback Kids: Tara Hagemann

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 9:49 PM CDT
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LEAF RIVER, Ill. (WIFR) - Our next Comeback Kid is turning her love of the family beef cattle operation and grain farm into a new career of preserving the American farm way of life. 23 News speaks with Tara Hagemann who is starting her own small business from scratch to save history for future generations.

Tara is no stranger to behind the lens as her photography skills go back several generations. She says, “My family has had a portrait studio since the 1980s in Marengo, Crystal Lake and later in Freeport. My grandmother started it and now my mother is the owner of the studio.”

The Rockford Lutheran grad moved to Chicago and later Denver for college and a marketing degree thinking she’d stay on that track. “I wanted the advertising type of experience, which is hard in marketing you have to know somebody. Well, I didn’t know a whole lot of people out in Denver anyway.”

Tara came back to Freeport to help her mom at the photography studio always thinking she’d return to Denver. Those plans changed after meeting her husband Karl. She traded life in a boardroom for life on a farm raising beef cattle. Tara says, “The way the beef marketing is, there are very few places to take your cattle and sell here. We didn’t like the prices we were getting so I’m a marketing guru and decided to sell these privately It just kind of took off.”

Tara used her marketing and photography experience to beef up the family business, which eventually turned the focus to a new venture. “I really just wanted to show people where their beef is coming from. Maybe I should do something with them other than throwing them up on Facebook every once in a while, maybe making a buck or two,” she says.

She plans to show off her one-of-a-kind photos this summer with the kick-off of Muddy Boots and Whiskers. Each photo of hers has a special meeting. Tara says, “Preserving this way of life This is where our food comes from, animals are being treated well and the grass is green and the sky is blue. I think it’s a beautiful way to live.”

Telling us the business isn’t meant for big cities, Tara thinks it will thrive in smaller communities that better appreciate the process of getting food from the family farm to the kitchen table. “I think we’re getting so far removed that, people don’t really realize where their food comes from. I think people around here get it. They get how hardworking farmers are,” Tara says.

Tara will participate in this year’s outdoor farmer’s market at the Cypress House in Rochelle beginning on Saturday, June 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.. She will be selling one-of-a-kind photos, home decor and other items.

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