Mesa County Cattlemen’s Association Banquet and Ball
February 8, 2010
Cowboy poet Slim Farnsworth from Crawford, Colo., presided as MC for the 2010 Mesa County Cattlemen’s annual banquet and ball held in Grand Junction on Jan. 23, entertaining with his unique style of cowboy wit and wisdom. After an invocation by Vice President Andrew Massey, several hundred hungry folks sat down to a delicious all-you-can-eat dinner, featuring locally grown prime rib, prepared by the chefs of the Country Inn.
Banquet chairman Tom Sharpe was applauded for his orchestration of such an enjoyable event, and MCCA Treasurer Lyle DeChant pointed out the pink shirts worn by Sharpe and Farnsworth for the evening,in support of cancer research and the individuals among the membership who are battling and/or have survived breast cancer. County Commissioner Steve Aquafresca received recognition for his on-going support of MCCA, as did Robbie LeValley, president-elect of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and CCA representative Tim Lehmann.
Several awards were handed out during the evening. The Stockman of the Year award went to Alan and Verla Rossi, not only for their dedication to ranching, but also for their years of involvement in the Catch-a-Heifer program. The childhood photos of the couple were enjoyed by everyone (except Alan and Verla!).
Ranchers Oscar Massey, along with Dori and Jay Van Loan, received awards for their participation on the Wild and Scenic River Stakeholders Committee for the Gunnison area. Ryon Hudson, FFA instructor at Fruita Monument High School, received $1,000 for the FFA program, and member Janie Van Winkle received another $1,000 for the 4H Foundation.
The next generation of ranchers was well represented by a number of catch-a-heifer participants. Mike Currier, 4H Youth outreach chairman, discussed the carcass class at last year’s fair. The kids also helped hand out the various door prizes offered by the long list of generous sponsors who support this organization. The opportunity to win a saddle for a penny was offered again this year – a popular part of the event – as was the silent auction and dancing the evening away to the music of “Round About.”
MCCA President Ben Nichols Jr., a fourth-generation rancher in the Plateau Valley, delivered the keynote address, reminding those present of the mission statement of the organization: To advocate for causes affecting the local cattle industry, to educate and involve youth in agriculture, and to inform the public on cattle industry issues. He went on to explain that the MCCA and the banquet were about kinship, friendship and fellowship. It was about making new friends, seeing old friends and remembering those who were no longer with us. It was about keeping the spirit of ranching alive, and being politically active in order to protect the ranching way of life.
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Nichols also pointed out that the general membership of the MCCA needs to continue their vigilance and be aware of policies affecting public lands grazing, of livestock being blamed for green house gasses, COOL, and import-export issues, and to advise the association of issues they think are important.
The Mesa County Cattlemen’s Association is an on-going supporter of the young farmers and ranchers participating in 4-H and FFA. The many projects of these youth are also supported by the Mesa County Cattlewomen, who raise funds for these hard-working kids by putting on a wonderful barbeque during the fair. The Plateau Valley Cattlewomen are also active in the education of the public regarding issues, both political and social, which affect the beef industry.
Although cattle numbers are down over the last five years nationwide, the numbers for 2009 in Mesa County were up about a thousand head over the total of 40,000 in 2008, but still well below the 56,000 counted in 2007. With dedicated members like those in the Mesa County Cattlemen’s Association, and the younger generation waiting in the wings, the ranching business in Mesa County should stay alive and well for many years to come.
You don’t have to own cattle to join the Mesa County Cattlemen’s Association or the Cattlewomen. If interested, please contact any board member; most are in the phone book. The next general membership meeting is March 12, 2010, (time and place to be determined).