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Community honors ag industry at appreciation banquet

Community honors ag industry at annual appreciation banquet

Apr 29, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The award ceremony is marking its 49th year.

Fremont County's agriculture community feted its own Saturday during the annual Ag Appreciation Banquet. Roughly 250 people dined and cheered as seven awards were handed out, and many stayed to dance and visit afterward.

In a sign of the continuing strength of farming and ranching in the local community, attendance was up slightly over recent years, according to Riverton Chamber of Commerce executive director Jim Davis. As it reached its 49th anniversary this weekend, the event's longevity also points to agriculture's continuing relevance.

The awards are supposed to be a surprise, but some honorees had been tipped off ahead of time.

"I started getting a little suspicious when my son said, 'Mom, you need to do something with your hair,'" said Ag Woman of the Year Melisa Crouch.

Crouch helps work her family's farm west of Riverton and also raises chickens, sells eggs and volunteers with 4-H and FFA, said Gerry Dewey in her introduction of Crouch.

The Riverton Chamber of Commerce organizes the event every year with the help of a committee of business and agriculture people. The group selects the honorees from nominations.

Ag Man of the Year went to Daniel Weliever.

Weliever has passed his farm on to his son and spent most of his life in Missouri Valley, said Fremont County Extension educator Alex Malcolm when he honored Weliever.

Rocky Mountain Agronomy won Ag Business of the Year.

Dan Moline said the farm chemicals company expanded from its three original employees in 2001 to 14 now and more than doubled its sales in the same time. Dan Forbis, a general manager with the firm, accepted the award.

Garrett Horton introduced his parents, Pat and Stan Horton, as Ag Couple of the Year.

"A neighbor was never without a strong back or delicious pie as long as this couple was around," the son said.

Brandon Haun won Ag Young Person of the Year.

In introducing the honoree, Trevor Bekken said Haun grew up in agriculture, formed a fencing company five years ago and since then purchased a farm and ranch where he raises alfalfa, grass hay, corn and cattle.

The Fremont County Fair Board gave its Volunteer of the Year award to John Griffin.

Saying he is not a man of many words, Griffin limited his acceptance speech to, "Thank you."

After the short award ceremony, attendees stayed and danced for several hours.

"I finally threw them out at midnight. There were probably only 25 people left, but they were having a good time kicking up their heels," Davis said.

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