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WestFest opportunity to show off agriculture

Leaders in some of the Rocky Mountain region’s most innovative agricultural marketing projects shared the stage with Mountain Men, cowboys, Native Americans and other exhibitors on hand during Michael Martin Murphey’s annual WestFest event in Vail, Colo., over Labor Day weekend.

Murphey donated space to the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Center to coordinate an Ag Fair during the three-day WestFest celebration of traditional western culture.

Consumers traveling to Vail to hear stars such as Lonestar and Pam Tillis also enjoyed an opportunity to sample certified Longhorn beef from the Cattlemen’s Texas Longhorn Registry Cooperative (CTLR), bread baked by Mountain View Harvest (MVH) Cooperative’s Gerard’s Bakery, and fresh products from eight other producer-owned enterprises.

Music stars and backstage crew also enjoyed fresh longhorn hamburgers served on Gerard’s buns, courtesy of the rancher-members of CTLR, who operated a backstage grill during WestFest.

With the assistance of funding provided through the Colorado Beef Council, the official festival chuckwagons and other food vendors offered patrons meals cooked with beef provided by Delta-county based Rocky Mountain Beef (RMB) Cooperative and CTLR.

Westfest’s Ag Fair brought the producer-owned enterprises in direct contact with an estimated 12,000 consumers.

Elwin Poe, an RMFU Board member from Holyoke, who helped staff the Gerard’s booth noted, “People really responded to the fact that this fresh, tasty bread was produced in a bakery that was directly owned by the farmers who grow the wheat. Many of the people who stopped by the booth to sample the bread later brought back their friends to try the products.”

Sherry Haugen, a San Luis Valley producer and owner of Haugen’s Mountain Grown Lamb, added, “I believe that developing a relationship with my customers is a critical element in building my business. I like to be able to tell my customers exactly where my product comes from, and how it was produced.”

RMFU President Dave Carter said the WestFest event provided an excellent forum to showcase the quality products from producer-owned cooperatives and family farm entrepreneurs.

“The AgFair at WestFest brought us face-to-face with our customers,” Carter said. “That is the area in which our cooperatives and small enterprises can best promote the unique quality characteristics of products raised on the family farms and ranches of the Rocky Mountain region. The consumers expressed a real interest in purchasing high quality food that is produced locally.”

AgFair booth spaces were filled by CTLR Co-op, Gerard’s Bakery/MVH Co-op, RMB Co-op, Papa Joe’s Natural Cereal, Haugen’s Mountain Grown Lamb, Byron & Hilda Fish – organic producers from Cortez, Colo. and Colorado Homestead Beef Co-op.