Folks in the livestock industry work hard all year, so the annual La Plata-Archuleta Cattlemen’s Association Banquet offers a chance to catch up with friends, enjoy a good dinner, raise money for scholarships and cut a rug.
On top of all that, it’s a time to recognize the cattlepeople who epitomize the values of humane livestock handling, love of the land and contributions to the community and the industry.
This year’s honoree was Bruce Fassett, who, presenter Davin Montoya said, is “living proof God made cattlemen.”
Fassett began his herd in 1949, and except for the four years he was in the Air Force, has always called La Plata County home. He has served on the boards of Durango School District 9-R, the La Plata Electric Association (for 23 years) and Mercy Hospital (before it was a regional medical center) and was named Community Citizen of the Year by the Florida Grange. He lost his wife of 55 years, Barbara, several years ago, but the rest of the Fassett family turned out in strength to see their patriarch honored.
Announcing Fassett’s honor was the grand finale of the evening (until the dancing started, anyway), but the event began with social time and a large silent auction. From the child-sized front loader to beef processing, propane to evenings out, the auction included items from businesses and individuals from throughout both counties.
Dinner featured prime rib with all the fixins, followed by a choice of a sinfully rich chocolate cake or cheesecake. (This year’s banquet took place April 23 at the Sky Ute Event Center.)
In addition to the auction, the event raises money by selling two much-desired brand quilts, one by raffle, one by auction. Those are always hot items – I know I make a point of buying some raffle tickets every year because, hey, there’s always a chance, and it’s for scholarships.
In the kind of twist you only see in novels, Tim Craig, who was serving as the auctioneer for the other quilt, won the raffled quilt, which his mother, who just turned 90, has always wanted. Just in time for Mother’s Day.
Which brings me to the other highlight of the evening, hearing from the scholarship recipients. Megan Semler Gifford, a six-time recipient herself, put together a combination video/slideshow giving each recipient a chance to say thank you. They included Kaycee Bennett, Kelton Richmond, Austin Riley, Cole Crawford, Morgan Schaaf, Michael Semler, Austin McMenimen, Riley Van Solen and Sage Mijares. Courtney Mael is the recipient of the Phyllis Lee Memorial Scholarship.
La Plata County Fair Royalty always bring some glam to the festivities. This year, Queen Attendant Sierra Reed and Princess Rylie Wonderling were on hand to display quilts and hand out door prizes.
Chuck Sullivan served as master of ceremonies, and Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, gave the invocation, proving sheepmen and cattlemen can get along. The president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Bob Patterson, and his wife, Bunny, made the trip over from Kim, in the far southeast corner of the state, for the event.
As always, this event takes a massive amount of humanpower to pull off. The Banquet Committee included Mae Morley, Ned and Barbara Jefferies, Trish and Larry Corman, Sandy Young, Debbie Wilhelm, Jake Nossaman, Norma Conley, Penny Crawford, Gary Everett, Cheryl Stevens, Melody Semler, Gary and Peggy Beebe, Wayne and Patti Buck, Sharon Nossaman, Tom Compton, Shirley Engler, Emma Shock, Kyle and Joli Beebe and Betty Shahan.
HHHEnjoying spring weather in all its vagaries for their birthdays are Charles McMillan, Jamie Nelson, Steve Parker, Brendan Roche, Darlene Cheesewright, Sandy Beebe, Chris Larson, Clarice Huckins, Hillary Wolfe, Sherri Libby, Carl Hotter, Bob Canning, Ann Norris, Rinda Slack, Jane Marentette, Kris Ryall, Jack Llewellyn, Diana Longwell, Winston Marugg, Greg Sparks, Mark Dickmann, Diane Welle, Diane Estes, Betsy Morris, John Loftis, Karen Mordi, Leigh Morris, Violet Trujillo, Asher Smith, Kristin Smith, Megan Reid, Brandon Rolph, Randy Hawk, William Crouch, Matt Pane, Thomas Dey, Donn Wince, John Mikelson and Paul Duft.
Special birthday greetings go to Mike Valentine, who turned 95 on Tuesday.
HHHI wrote about the La Plata County Cowbelles earlier in this story regarding their quilts, but they also take seriously their commitment to education. As many of you are reading this, they are up at Fort Lewis College participating in Water Festival with more than 750 fifth-graders from across Southwest Colorado.
And in April, they held a Beef 101 demonstration, this time for Colorado Connections Academy online students at the La Plata County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall kitchen. The cattlewomen supplied the groceries, recipes and education about beef nutrition before setting the kids loose in the kitchen to prepare a lunch of tip sirloin with brown fried rice, vegetables, salad and sorbet for themselves and some parents.
Mae Morley, president of the Cowbelles, provided beef books for the students, and Patti Buck, former national president of the American National CattleWomen, demonstrated the recipe. Cowbelles Penny Crawford organized the event, and she and Cheryl Stevens provided items for the lesson.
If you’re looking for recipes, Buck recommends www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.
HHHMany thanks go to the Santa Fe Opera for including Durango on its stops for a traveling debut of “UnShakeable,” a set-in-the-future telling of a timeless story starring two star-crossed lovers who have been Shakespearean actors.
Cleverly using dialogue from six of the Bard’s most beloved works – “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest” – the free event at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College was fun, funny and even gave the audience a chance to serve as the chorus.
And at 40 minutes, it was an easy introduction to opera for people unfamiliar with the art form.
The only sad part was that we didn’t fill every seat in the hall for this free performance because it deserved a packed house.
The timing was perfect, too, as April 23 was the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, or as the Oxford English Dictionary would have it, Shakspere. Believe it or not, there are 80 spellings of his name.
I felt like it was time to learn more about Shakespeare on this august occasion, but many of the works available were a little too scholarly for easy reading. After happening upon Bill Bryson’s William Shakespeare: Life is a Stage, part of the Eminent Lives series, I was hooked. “UnShakeable” is a perfect title for a work paying homage to the Bard of Avon, because in addition to the 2,000 words he added to the English language – and the 10 percent of quotations in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations – he made the “un” prefix popular, adding more than 300 “uns” including unhand, unveil, untie, and, well, you get the point.
And don’t forget Miguel de Cervantes, the great Spanish writer, who died 400 years ago as well. Edith Grossman translated his master work, Don Quixote, a few years ago in what I personally think is the easiest reading translation. Just skip the poetry, and you’ll find it funny and engaging, not too literary at all.
HHHThe flowers are trying to bloom for the anniversaries of Bill and Jan Postler, Fred and Fran Rusk, Paul and Monica Broderick, Tom and Karla Sluis, Duane and Mary Mykra, Jo and Dianne Milarch and Mike and Mandy Gardner.
HHHHere’s how to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items. Follow me on Twitter @Ann_Neighbors.I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory) and include no more than three to five people.