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Butler's 'Farm Kings' series welcomes Season 2

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Courtesy of Stage 3.
Pete, Tim, Joe, and Dan King of Freedom Farms from the GAC show 'Farm Kings,' which airs at 9 p.m. Thursdays.

Members of a large Butler County family and their farm have earned a big following on the Great American Country television network, which is why their reality show is returning for its sophomore season on April 11.

“Farm Kings,” which airs its 13-episode second season at 9 p.m. Thursdays, shows GAC viewers the daily trials and triumphs of the King family and Freedom Farms in Middlesex. The clan includes nine teenage and 20-something brothers — many of whom viewers have called hunky — and one sister, plus the family's matriarch.

They operate a family farm that grows mostly produce, but recently added pigs and cows for meat. GAC cameras follow family members as they work in their fields, tend to their home, and go to farmers' markets, bakeries and cafes to sell their goods.

GAC usually focuses on music, and this is the first time the network has done a full lifestyle series, says Nashville-based Sarah Trahern, general manager of GAC. “Farm Kings” turned out to be the network's strongest-performing, non-music series in GAC history, she says. This is partially because the family members are so relatable and appealing, Trahern says.

“It's all about Freedom Farms, and the family members that work there,” she says. “For us, it's really a microcosm of an American hardworking family.”

“Farm Kings” gives viewers an unscripted view of a family farm trying to make it in a difficult world, but “also it's just a great family story,” Trahern says.

“The family itself is just so interesting and heartwarming,” she says. “They had this American way of life that we all benefited from.”

In the show's first season, which aired in the fall, the Kings were struggling to recover from a hailstorm that badly damaged crops and caused a financial setback. Now, in this spring season, the King family is preparing for a new farming year, planting crops and expanding their business into raising animals for food. Not everyone in the family — including the oldest brother Joe, who co-manages the farm with “Head Farmer” Tim and “Human Harvester” Pete — agrees on decisions for the farm.

“Sometimes, things just happen. Season 1 had a lot of challenges,” Trahern says. “You can't plan for that in a TV series. You may be thinking you're going to shoot something one day, but then something else happens.”

King family members have earned many admirers. Twitter comments from fans include calling “Farm Kings” the next “Duck Dynasty” (the popular A&E series about a Louisiana family that makes duck calls). The show has a “good message and good-looking men. You can't beat that,” another follower said.

Trahern says people respond to the family's work ethic.

“They see how hard everybody worked,” she says. “For those who have an urban lifestyle, that show has had that appeal. It's great to see people celebrating hardworking people.

“They, frankly, work their tails off,” Trahern says about the Kings. “You kind of want to cheer for them.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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