Craig's own Mountain Meat Packing company recently took home two national awards at the 2002 American Cured Meat Championships.
The company brought home a Grand Champion award in the cooked poultry sausage category for its Chicken Supremo, and another 2002 Grand Champion award in the specialty game meats category for their Pheasant Epicurean.
The honors were the first-ever bestowed to a Colorado meat packing organization.
The awards were presented by the American Association of Meat Processors, which is North America's largest meat trade organization. Its membership is comprised of more than 1,800 medium-sized and smaller meat, poultry and food businesses, including slaughterers, packers, processors, wholesalers, in-home food service business, retailers, deli and catering operators and industry suppliers.
The organization is also affiliated with 33 state, regional and provincial meat trade organizations.
The awards were given in Reno, Nev., July 27.
"That was against some rather stiff competition against poultry guys from California and down in the South," said Gary Baysinger, owner of Mountain Meat Packing. "It's quite an honor to be able to do that."
Baysinger said more than 800 plants were represented in the categories.
He also said Mountain Meat Packing has had the sausage products in the works for more than a year under the watchful eye of the company's sausage master, Josef Brunner.
Brunner, who is originally from Austria, came to Mountain Meat Packing with considerable sausage training, including stints in Austria, Germany and Beverly Hills.
"He comes with a very extensive background in sausage making," Baysinger said.
Brunner said he was pleased with the awards.
"It 's unbelievable," Brunner said. "How much better does it get? No one in Colorado has ever won a national award. It's certainly a step in the right direction. I guess the world championships will be next."
Those championships will take place in a year in Frankfurt, Germany, at the IFFA Show, and Mountain Meat Packing will have its products at the event.
Baysinger said the accolades should further the Mountain Meat Packing name.
"What it means is that people in the poultry industry are always looking for new products for research and development and things they can do to enhance value," Baysinger said. "What this does is this is give us some exposure to some very large meat packers, and also some gourmet retail outlets in the Northern California area, as well as some other places in the Northeast that are looking for things like that."
Baysinger said the awards reflect the effort the company puts into its products.
"We've really tried to improve and upgrade the quality of our products and the workmanship," Baysinger said. "This year we also won overall grand champion at the Colorado and Wyoming Processors Convention, which was also another prestigious honor. So it really looks positive."
Mountain Meat Packing specializes in gourmet meats and gourmet sausages made from beef, lamb, pork, poultry, domestic elk and buffalo. It is the only federally inspected processing plant in the Craig area, and only one of four in all of Western Colorado.