Every year, the Calgary Stampede and BMO Bank of Montreal recognize outstanding farm families in southern Alberta. The awards program was created to promote a renewed urban-rural relationship and to recognize outstanding southern Alberta farm families who best symbolize the value of the family farmer to our society. The program focuses on recognizing the contribution to the enhancement of quality of life as a family unit.

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Alberta Agriculture Service Board representatives from each municipal district in southern Alberta nominate one family. Then, the families are brought to the Calgary Stampede for the BMO Farm Family Awards in July, which include a reception, a greeting from Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture, brunch, an awards presentation and a family photograph session. The winning families are then treated to an afternoon Stampede Rodeo performance. This year, the 2014 BMO Farm Family Awards were held on Monday, July 7 at the Palomino Room in the BMO Centre.

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The Palomino Room had an air of excitement to it as families gathered to celebrate their achievements. Children laughed at the clown’s antics while adults sipped on champagne and orange juice and enjoyed light snacks. MC Darrel Janz, president and chairman of the board of the Calgary Stampede Bob Thompson and the Honourable Verlyn Olson Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development addressed the families. The speakers thanked the families for their hard work and dedication to agriculture while they recalled their own agriculture connections and experience, showing how this industry truly touches all reaches of southern Alberta.

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Family bios were read aloud and displayed on posters as well as in the event program; though there were many variances of region, heritage and product farmed, there was one similarity – the many generations involved in caring for and continuing the farm’s growth. The question of the importance of agriculture was raised with one simple question: “Do you like to eat?” With a unanimous chuckle from the crowd, the answer was clear.

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Congratulations to all the families who were nominated for the award this year:

Nelson Family Farm – Rod Nelson & Family – Starland County

Silver Top Dairy – William & Rita VanRootselaar & Family – MD of Willow Creek No. 26

Sereda Farms Ltd. – Ron Sereda & Family – Couny of Newell

Chinook Country Farms – Larry Gano & Family – Mountainview County

Saywer Farms – Matthew Sawyer – Kneehill County

John & Rod Blake & Family – MD of Ranchland

Caseley Farms – Jack Caseley & Family – Special Areas No. 4

Howard Davis & Family – MD of Pincher Creek No. 9

Diamond V Ranch – Richard Wambeke & Family – MD of Foothills No. 31

GPL Christensen Farms – Grant Christensen & Family – Special Areas No. 2

Olsen Prairie Farms Ltd. – Erling Olsen & Family – County of Warner No. 5

BH Farms – Arnie Bergen-Henengouwen & Family – County of Lethbridge

Morison Family Farms – Rod Morison & Family – Rocky View County

Wickstrom Farms – Ron Wickstrom & Family – Vulcan County

Lone Star Cattle Co. – Ron Ostrom & Family – Wheatland County

Thistle Ridge Ranch – Ben Tams & Family – MD of Taber

Darcy Barfuss & Family – Cardston County

Hatview Dairy Farm – Herb Weiss & Family – Cypress County

Tony Crooymans and Sons – Andrew Crooymans & Family – County of Forty Mile

David Dick & Family – Special Areas No. 3