Steve Pargin celebrated for lifetime in ranching

Courtesy of Carol Lewin

Laura and Steve Pargin celebrated his honor as Cattleman of the Year at the La Plata-Archuleta Cattlemen’s Association Banquet at Sky Ute Casino & Resort in Ignacio. The entire Pargin clan was on hand to cheer for him.

As the third generation of Pargins ranching on the family homestead, Steve Pargin can certainly claim deep roots in the area. And now he can also claim bragging rights as the Cattleman of the Year.

Pargin received the honor from Davin Montoya on Saturday night at the La Plata-Archuleta Cattlemen’s Association Banquet at Sky Ute Casino & Resort in Ignacio. The honor comes after Pargin has spent decades ranching and has sat on boards ranging from the Ignacio School Board to the Spring Creek Ditch Board, along with everything in between.

He had a great acceptance speech.

“Thank you,” Pargin said. “I’ve spent the last 45 years doing just exactly what I wanted.”

It was true family affair, with perhaps the best congratulating committee ever, his four grandchildren, Charley, Grace, Candace and Kimberly Pargin, who couldn’t wait for him to reach his seat before running to give him big hugs. Pargin’s wife, Laura, and sons and daughters-in-law, Mathew and Hilary Pargin and Jacob and Aubrey Pargin, were also on hand to applaud the patriarch of the clan.

The banquet, an annual tradition that gives cattlemen and other folks in the agriculture business a break during one of the busiest seasons of the year, attracted more than 300 people of all ages. The evening started with a silent auction and social hour, with a whole lot of greeting going on.

I always like it when a silent auction has items that reflect on the organization’s purpose, and this one came with lots of country-living emphasis.

The best dish-towel saying goes to: “Behind every successful rancher is a wife with a job in town.” That’s closer to the truth than most townies understand. Agriculture is a tough business at the best of times. Throw in drought, tight financial times, disease and injury and skyrocketing feed costs, and that hamburger in your hand looks a lot more like a miracle than when you picked it up while reading Neighbors.

Speaking of beef, the prime rib was as succulent as always at this event, served with baked potato, salad and a corn and calabacita veggie side, followed by a chocolate-drizzled cheesecake.

Megan Semler, who has been the recipient of the Cattlemen’s and Cowbelles’ scholarships as she studied at Colorado State University, did some research about the scholarships, which turned 50 this year.

She tracked down Delwin Fassett, the very first recipient of a scholarship, $110 in 1963, who went on to earn a Master of Business Associate and now lives in San Jose, Calif. She also mentioned names of many in the ag community who were once recipients. All told, the Cattlemen and Cowbelles have given $76,000 in scholarships to 51 people.

Semler, who will graduate next month with a degree in animal science, also reminisced about her 4-H heifer, Wonder Girl, which was sponsored by the Cattlemen, and catching her first calf, Wonder Baby. The Semler table was decorated with pink balloons and a sign reading “It’s a Girl!” because her younger brother, Michael’s, heifer, named “Hef,” had just calved the previous day.

Unfortunately, the calf came while he was in Greeley at a livestock judging competition with his team, so he missed the birth. The team won the competition, though. There’s always a silver lining.

I’d heard the term “catch a heifer,” which I thought was some kind of rodeo event, but it took Barbara Jefferies to explain that a heifer is a cow having its first calf, a process that often has more complications than an older cow giving birth. Catching a heifer provides a great learning experience for young people.

(What? I never pretended to be anything but a townie! The only cowboy boots I ever owned were turquoise and silver for Fiesta Days, hardly working boots.)

The other highlight of the evening is always the two brand quilts made by La Plata County Cowbelles. Jefferies told me they made the first one for a raffle in 1965 to help fund those aforementioned scholarships when she was president of the Cowbelles. She was a little embarrassed when her father won the raffle.

Now, because the Cowbelles make two quilts, one is raffled and one is auctioned. Ranchers in La Plata County pay to have their brands quilted on blocks, paying for most of the material cost, and Shirley Engler, her daughter Karen Baxter and other committee members make the blocks and assemble the quilts.

Bentley Colbert won the raffled quilt, a bit ironic, my tablemates thought, because he lives in Montezuma County, where there’s a whole different set of brands. And after a spirited round of bidding led by auctioneer Ken Beck, the auctioned quilt broke the previous record of $3,500 by a whopping $500. Sue Hess is a woman on a mission to get a quilt for each of her children – they’re that prized – so she went for it.

Chuck Sullivan ably served as master of ceremonies; Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, albeit without an actual flag; and during the blessing, the Rev. Robert Kujath remembered those in Boston and West, Texas, who had such a terrifying week.

Kudos to the organizers, Marvin and Catherine Conrad, Ned and Barbara Jefferies, Ski and Rose Novotney, Larry and Trish Corman, Wayne and Patti Buck, Sharon Nossaman, Debbie Candelaria, Jake Nossaman, Norma Conley, Mae Morley (vice president of the Cattlemen), Kyle Beebe (president of the Cattlemen), Gary Everett, Peggy Beebe (president of the Cowbelles and secretary of the Cattlemen’s Association), Sandy Young (treasurer of the Cattlemen), Emma Shock, Tom Compton, Melody Semler (Megan’s mother) and Louetta Phelps. They put in a lot of work behind the scenes so everyone else can relax and have some fun, particularly once the business is done and the High Rollers take the stage for some heel-kickin’ dancing.

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Happy Aries birthday wishes go out to Sonja Smith, Cole House, Vicki Ochocki, Donna Harper, Nancy Carr, Sandra LeFevre, Bonnie Brennan, Sandy Sunderland, Deanna Schardt, Sophie Brill, Isaac Forsythe, Phyllis Hoyt, Kim Baum, Katie Benner, Melody Warren, Jim Winkelbauer, Mark James, Ryan Slater, Saylor Stottlemeyer, Aeneas McBrayer and Bill Watt.

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Thanks to the San Juan Symphony for a Lollapalooza of a season, which ended last weekend. Because I was attending the Cattlemen’s Association Banquet in Ignacio on Saturday when the orchestra performed in Durango, I caught the last concert at the Henderson Performance Hall at San Juan College in Farmington on Sunday.

I’ve always wanted to get down to see a concert at the symphony’s other home, and this was my chance. Nice facility, the folks who work the box office are friendly as the folks here and the small art gallery was open during intermission, which added another dimension.

And the audience enjoyed the concert mightily. What there was of it. The audience, I mean.

In the 800-seat concert hall, the 200 or so of us were swimming in a sea of empty seats. Music Director Arthur Post said it was the music that kept the energy high for the musicians, which is good, because no matter how hard we clapped, we didn’t make enough noise of appreciation to reflect the wonderful performances.

Greg Hustis, artistic director of Music in the Mountains, played a lyrical French horn solo on Lee Holdridge’s “Ode to Orion,” which was composed for Hustis. Guest trumpeter Mary Elizabeth Bowden showed how Joseph Haydn’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra in E-flat Major is one of the great pieces written for her instrument.

But I have to say the introductory Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor, which was magnificent, and “The Beatles Guide to the Orchestra,” narrated by Terry Swan, were my favorites, in large part because I was accompanied by Dorothy Nakaweesi, a guest journalist from Uganda who’s spending time with us here at the Herald. It was her first live classical music concert, and it was fun to watch her introduction to one of my favorite things.

It was such a contrast to the performances at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, where the hall is quite full and electric with excitement before a performance.

We need to work on that in Farmington.

If you want to support the SJS, and orchestras need our support to survive, its Tapas Extravaganza will be held at the Sow’s Ear on May 5. Call Executive Director Kathy Myrick at 382-9753 to learn more.

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Perhaps spring is officially in session for the anniversaries of Van and Mary Butler, Bill and Pam Brown and Tom and Kim McCarl.

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Here’s how to reach me:; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact information for all items.

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