Sudden fame from YouTube parody hasn’t changed Saline County farm family

Before their video went viral in late June, Greg, Nathan, Kendal and Laura Peterson were just Kansas farm kids.

Now, they are celebrities.

Almost anywhere they go — from New York City, where they appeared on Fox News; to Albuquerque, N.M., at the Ag Media Summit; to Wellington, where the brothers appeared in a parade for the Kansas Wheat Festival — the Saline County teens are recognized as the stars in the hit YouTube “I’m Farming and I Grow It” video.

Even their mom, Marla Peterson, notices more star power.

“It has been kind of an unbelievable summer,” Marla Peterson said. “You go places and people know who you are and you don’t know who they are.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention when they were filming the video. Now, I wish I would have paid more attention. I knew I liked watching it when it first came out. I just didn’t know how far it would spread.”

The Peterson siblings thought they would do well if they could get 100,000 views. As of Sunday, the video had received more than 6.6 million views and has been shown on “Good Morning America,” CNN, Yahoo and the “Today” show. Stories about it have been published in newspapers across the nation.

Their idea started as a parody of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It.” Now, they are being parodied. One of the more successful YouTube videos is Lil Fred singing “Farm It Maybe” a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ”Call Me Maybe.”

The phone calls, e-mails and Facebook notifications have started to taper, although well-wishers still contact the family. Some visit the Peterson family near Assaria to see the farmers. They’ve been asked to pose for pictures and sign autographs.

And there has been no shortage of women leaving comments about the brothers’ good looks.

“In terms of girls, you see all the YouTube comments,” said Greg Peterson, the eldest at age 21 and the one who was inspired to do the video. “You get fan mail and that is kind of more awkward than anything.

“They don’t know our personalities.”

Truth is the family is all about farming and the lifestyle it represents. They are the fourth generation of Kansas farmers. Even as small children, they played with John Deere toy tractors and implements.

The whirlwind of fame this summer has been different, they acknowledge, but through it all, the Peterson family has tried to maintain an even keel. There has been the routine of summer camps, 4-H projects, Bible school and all the chores that come in 15-hour workdays on a family farm.

“We didn’t cancel our summer plans,” Marla Peterson said. “The things we committed to before, we kept doing.”

Added Greg Peterson, “I honestly think it brought our family closer together. We are not trying to let it change us.”

Currently, the family’s focus has been preparing for each of the teens to go back to school and competing in the Tri-Rivers Fair last week, where Laura received a purple ribbon in her 4-H photography project. No surprise there: She helped shoot the video.

Nathan is gearing up for his freshman year at Kansas State University in Manhattan; Greg is preparing for his junior year there. Kendal will be a junior at Southeast of Saline High School.

“The fact is, the people who knew us before don’t treat us much different,” Nathan Peterson said. “The thing is, a lot of people we don’t know now, know who we are.

“We had this family reunion in Lindsborg. The people who traveled the farthest were so excited because they are related to us, and we are like fourth cousins.”

The video, Greg Peterson said, has affected all their lives. It has brought opportunities and ideas for more videos.

“Last year, I was at this Ag Media Summit (in New Mexico) as a student — a nobody trying my best to get my name out,” he said. “This year, people already know my name.

“I’m learning and getting experience. I wouldn’t call myself a professional speaker, but we are getting the message out about farming.”

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