Cold and snow did not deter the crowd Friday night at the annual Lexington Chamber of Commerce Business and Farm Award banquet.
The evening started with a social hour sponsored by Downey Drilling. After drinks, the crowd was treated to a prime rib meal, provided by Tyson and prepared by the Holiday Inn Express. Chamber Executive Director Sarah Neben then took the podium to start the program. After recognizing Chamber members and their hard work over the previous year, Neben honored former Lexington Chamber of Commerce President Tara Narpstek with the President’s Award.
Next, Barry McFarland came to the front of the room to honor the Dawson County Area Hero Flight Committee with the Jim Kelly Memorial Award. McFarland remarked on Kelly’s passion for his community and how he urged everyone to come out and be a part of the community. McFarland said the Dawson County Area Flight Committee has worked tirelessly to provide local area veterans an opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to view memorials honoring their service. Barry’s father, Max McFarland, spoke for the group after receiving the award and told three stories of how the trip had impacted the veterans. One story showed how a father opened up to his daughter about his time in Vietnam following a solemn visit to the Vietnam Wall. McFarland said, “He hadn’t talked to his family about any of this and the Honor Flight allowed him a way to open up and tell his story.”
Barry McFarland also presented the Business Of The Year Award to Plum Creek Market Place. McFarland explained to the crowd that Plum Creek Market Place came to the community after official word that IBP was moving into the former Sperry New Holland plant. Mogens Knudson received the award for the company and invited store Manager Barry Carpenter up to receive an Excellence of Service Award. Knudson remarked on Carpenter’s first day on the job, “He showed up at 7 sharp and worked all through the day. About 5 or 6 he asked if it was about quitting time. I just grinned. Then 7, 8 & 9 o’clock rolled by and we were still doing important work around the store. I think we finally finished up around 11 that night. The hours didn’t discourage Barry though and he has been an important part of the Plum Creek Market Place team every since.” Knudson also recognized many employees of the business who were in attendance.
Roberts Cattle Company Manager John Salem received Ag Employee of the Year. (Photo Credit Paul Pack)
After a short intermission, the evening moved into the ag awards. The first award , Ag Employee of the Year, went to Roberts Cattle Company Manager John Salem. At the podium, Salem remarked on why he was proud to work for Roberts Cattle Company, “When you get to do what you love every single day, it makes it easy to go to work in the mornings.”
The Service to Ag Award was presented by Dave Stenberg who highlighted the recipients’ steadfast dedication to both the urban and rural communities of Lexington. Stenberg also mentioned the way the recipient could tell someone’s story in the most positive and uplifting way. KRVN News Director Dave Schroeder was truly shocked, as onlookers saw his face light up, at being named the Service to Ag Award winner. During his acceptance speech Schroeder looked out over the crowd and said, “I have had the opportunity to interview quite a few of you in the audience tonight. I’m glad I can help tell your story.”
Listen to hear what the Ag Award Winners had to say: http://bit.ly/2Tmj0fI
The final award of the night was the Farm Family of the year award. This award came with the most pomp and circumstance as Barb Batie displayed a slideshow with narration of the honored Farm Family. KRVN Farm Broadcaster Clay Patton acted as the role of the announcer and described a family that had multi-generational roots in agriculture, but started anew in Dawson county in the midst of the 1980s farm crisis. The Farm Family of the year was Craig and Terri Uden. Craig who has served as the National Cattleman’s Beef Association President is currently chief cattle procurer and stake holder in Darr Feedlot Inc. Terri helps to keep company books and look after the families personal cow/calf operation. Craig and Terri were humbled by the award and Craig praised the community, “I’m very proud of this community and this area. I have had the opportunity to travel around the country and the world. Let’s never take for granted what we have in this county. We have tremendous community support. Plus water, interstate, packing and processing. Everything that is needed in the beef industry. This gives us an advantage over a majority of the countryside and we don’t want to take that for granted.”
The final words of the night came from State Senator Matt Williams in his keynote speech. Senator Williams highlighted his earlier years and his connection to Lexington. Williams used the question, “Why Me? ” He used it to drive home the reasons behind being involved in your community.
While the evening officially ended following Senator Williams keynote speech, the crowd did not quickly disperse. Those in attendance took their time, congratulated the award winners and enjoyed the fellowship of the community.