A party of 11 family members and friends of St. Walburg rancher Roger Larrre whooped it up at the National Western Stock Show in Denver Colorado, where Larre received the 2018 Canadian Livestock Industry Leader of the Year Award on Jan. 14. SUPPLIED PHOTO
St. Walburg cattle producer Roger Larre was presented with a 2018 Canadian Livestock Industry Leader of the Year Award, but he can’t show it off to others in town just yet.
The plaque, presented by the Dan Green Foundation during Canada Night at the 112th National Western Stock Show in Denver Colorado on Jan. 14, misspelled Walburg as Warburg.
“They were so apologetic, but they’re sending us another one,” said Larre with a chuckle.
The faux pas simply adds to a pile of unforgettable good memories of his time in Denver with a party of 11 family members and friends on hand to see him get the award.
The group included Larre’s wife Joanne and two of his four sons, Randy and Duane.
“My son Duane was showing me the emails he was getting—lots and lots of congrats,” said Larre, who is back home on the range.
“It’s a very prestigious honour—we never expected something like this out of the blue.”
The award was presented by Green, whose family started the award about 50 years ago when they owned the Denver Record-Stockman newspaper.
Awards go each year to the U.S. Industry Livestock Leader of the Year and the Canadian Livestock Industry Leader of Year on back-back-back nights in between the saddle bronc and ladies barrel racing events at the pro rodeo at the Denver Coliseum.
“It’s a pretty big achievement because all the guys around here that are in the cattle industry, they said how prestigious the award is,” said Duane, who works mostly in the oil patch.
His dad was nominated by 2005 award winner Bob Balog from Lethbridge.
Balog Auction Services Inc. sells some of the cattle that Larre and his three full-time farming sons produce on their 11,500 acre cow/calf and grain operation.
“Ninety nine per cent of the time, the awards are given to a primary producer who has been a leader in the industry and their community and have been model type citizens,” said Balog, who happens to be a new inductee of the Canadian Hereford Association Hall of Fame Honour Roll.
He said Larre more than fits the bill with the award requirements, most notably by being a 4th generation family farm along with being leaders within the commercial cattle industry.
Larre and his sons raise Simmental and Simmental-Angus cross cattle.
“This Roger Larre family comes as close as it gets to being what a model modern cattle operation should be like,” said Balog.
“They are not afraid to step up and buy the best bulls; they are not afraid to try different feed programs; they are not afraid to do cross breeding.
“They are not followers, they are leaders.”
Larre was born and raised on the farm that his grandfather started in 1906, and will be carried on by his sons and grandchildren as the 5th generation.
“I haven’t moved 200 yards from where I was born,” said the 64 year-old.
“I work with my sons every day. Life is pretty good.”
He said all his boys live within a quarter mile of him in five different houses and they farm together.
“The grandchildren are a quarter mile away and we walk to work every morning,” he said.
His other sons Clark and Doug held the fort while their dad was feted in Denver.
Another of the 10 or so prerequisites for the industry leader award is the level of community involvement and citizenship of the nominees —five people in all this year according to Balog.
He refers to Larre as a salt of the earth kind of guy along with his extended family.
“I know they have helped numerous neighbours all around, close and far away,” said Balog.
“When they get their combining done, they go and help people; when someone needs help with their cattle, they go and help people—they are very highly thought of and highly respected.”
Every year, Larre hosts a charity golf tournament to raise money for charities in memory of his fifth son Kyle, who was killed in an accident in 2011 at the age of 25.
“Over the years, we’ve probably raised over $100,000 and donated to STARS, LABIS or whatever,” said Larre.
“We support our local communities of St. Walburg, Turtleford and Paradise Hill —Hillmond— we support them all.”
Balog said he could have nominated any of about 35 families in the area, but he said the Larres caught his eye for all the right reasons.
“They are the grassroots of what we all want in this business,” said Balog.
He said the award recognizes people who build and continue to build the livestock industry.
Larre noted he had to pinch himself when he first learned he was getting the award back on Dec. 29.
“I thought it was a prank at the start; I didn’t believe it until we really got the flights booked,” he said.
They all had to pay their own way down there, but that was okay by Larre.
“It’s a Denver stock show; it’s the biggest stock show in North America,” he said.
“There was 11,000 people in this rodeo; it’s huge; there are 22 rodeo performances; it’s pro rodeo.”
He said they went down for the rodeo and went to an NHL hockey game at the Pepsi Centre, as well as the awards night supported by the Canada Colorado Association.
“We got to meet the president of the Denver stock show and show other pretty high class people down there,” said Larre.
As an award winner, he took the opportunity to promote St. Walburg as the best place to farm and live, especially with the summer blueberry festival.
“We’ve got a very good community here; I’ve travelled lots in the last few years and this is as good a place as you can find,” he said.
“The lakes are close by, there’s hunting and fishing and it’s rolling land.”