May 15, 2012 - By Christina George and Martin Reed, Staff WritersRural Riverton farmer and rancher Dennis Horton likes to imagine settlers arriving in the north Fremont County area in 1906 and seeing sagebrush, rattlesnakes "and nothing growing forever."
"I would have loved to have been there, to tell you the truth," Horton said, accepting his award on Saturday night for agriculture man of the year at the 47th annual Fremont County Ag Appreciation Banquet in Riverton.
"It was one of the greatest decisions I ever made to move to Fremont County and become a farmer," Horton said. "We raise the best hay in the world. The pinto beans we raise are the best in the world."
Exemplifying his devotion to the industry, Horton said he is proud to be part of the farming community in Fremont County.
His award was among the six honors presented during the annual event at the Fremont County Fairgrounds, where about 250 people gathered in the Fremont Center for dinner, drinks and conversation.
Horton's daughters introduced their father for his award. Emily Priebe, a co-owner at Wyoming Ag Marketing, said she made some calls to research the recipient.
People told her that they would "not find a better neighbor" and "He is as hard-headed as he is a hard worker -- and he works 24-7," Priebe said.
Her father's roots took form in Big Horn County, where he had one of the largest swine farms in the area. He later had three farms and two ranches in Fremont County.
Nikki Horton said her father is a "strong believer in helping young people succeed in their dreams."
Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan introduced the ag couple of the year award to Ron and Jackie Lucas of the Arapahoe area.
"I have known them many years, and they have done essentially everything together," Logan said.
The couple met in 1971 while attending Casper College and married the following year, he said. They decided to move to Fremont County to pursue ranching and later barley farming, producing 1 million pounds in a year, he said.
The Lucases accepted their award with a short but emotional thank you to the crowd.
Business of the year
University of Wyoming extension educator Ron Cunningham presented the award for ag business of the year to Brown Company and its owner, Trevor Becken.
Cunningham recalled the business started with "a handful of people -- good people -- a pickup and what they called a shack for the office."
"They had a lot of 'get 'er done,'" he said.
Becken said the award came as a surprise.
"This is kind of a shock because I thought I was in on everything because I'm part of the committee" that organizes the banquet, he said.
He noted the Brown Company's humble beginnings in a "ghetto office" and the growth that's happened over the years.
"We wouldn't be where we're at in Fremont County without all of you guys," he said.
In introducing the young ag person of the year, Fremont County Fair and Rodeo manager Barney Cosner said the winner attended Lander Valley High School, Laramie County Community College and the University of Wyoming.
"He became very entrepreneurial, wanted to come back to Fremont County and wanted to make a difference," Cosner said.
The award went to Jared Hamilton, who started Wyoming Custom Meats in Hudson in 2007. "I'm real grateful to be able to do what I do," Hamilton said.
Lander veterinarian Jim Summers seemed overcome by emotion when accepting his award for ag special service of the year. "I haven't got any words to say. I can't believe it," he said.
"Fremont County has been great to me. I hope I've been good to them," Summers said.
Deanna Crofts of Riverton received the fair board's award for volunteer of the year. "It's the people that took the time for me and I hope I can give back and give time for them," she said.
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