The Moffat County Cowbelles secretary Aorla Gerber, clockwise from left, vice president Dollie Frentress, treasurer Mary Ryan and president Florence Van Tassel at one of their meetings in Craig. The group assists in beef promotional projects and sponsors Ag-Centric teaching lessons in schools, among many other projects in the area.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

The Moffat County Cowbelles secretary Aorla Gerber, clockwise from left, vice president Dollie Frentress, treasurer Mary Ryan and president Florence Van Tassel at one of their meetings in Craig. The group assists in beef promotional projects and sponsors Ag-Centric teaching lessons in schools, among many other projects in the area.

More than 50 years and going strong

Moffat County Cowbelles promote beef

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Aorla Gerber, treasurer for the Moffat County Cowbelles, speaks during their meeting with other members.

— Beef promotion has been the goal of the Moffat County Cowbelles for more than 50 years.

Exactly how old the organization is remains uncertain because many early records have been lost, but bylaws date back to 1954, and a news article from a 1952 Craig Empire Courier hints that meetings were being held back then.

The Moffat County Cowbelles organization got its start one year when the Moffat County Cattlemen held its annual meeting. The men met at the Craig Courthouse, and their wives met at Moffat County High School, now the Middle School. At that first organizational meeting, Winifred (Winnie) Mock was elected president. Her husband, Elbert, was president of the Moffat County Cattlemen at the same time.

Members came from all parts of Moffat County, including Craig, Maybell, Lay and Hamilton. It's not known just how many members were in the organization during those early years, but secretary books from the 1960s show membership to have been as high as 67.

Some years later, the Maybell women formed a Cowbelles organization of their own. Dollie Frentress remembers that it was known as Northwest Colorado Cowbelles.

Dollie once was president of the organization. After it was "retired," Dollie joined the Moffat County group, was president and still is an active member.

In earlier days, the Moffat Cowbelles assisted the Cattlemen with their promotional activities. The members put up "Eat Beef" messages in restaurants and convinced grocery stores to put special stickers on their meat packages. The women gave out beef certificates for special occasions, such as Father's Day.

The Cowbelles members set up promotional booths in stores. They gave prizes for leathercraft projects done by county youngsters and even donated a heifer calf to a young person who cared for the animal and brought it back to the Moffat County Fair.

To make money for their beef promotion projects, the Cowbelles put together and sold brand napkins and calendars, and once raffled off a brand quilt. They served food at auctions, too.

The Cowbelles also helped the Cattlemen by organizing and decorating for the annual Cattlemen's Banquet. They also entertained the wives of visiting legislators and Colorado Cattlemen.

In recent years, the Cowbelles have continued with the beef promotion projects. They still sell brand napkins and also brand placemats and throws. However, the emphasis of their promotional activities is on education about agriculture in general.

Today, Moffat Cowbelles can be found in elementary school classrooms, making presentations about such topics as nature's cycles, stewardship of the land, agriculture products and by-products, their heritage, and a lot more.

The biggest project for the Cowbelles is the annual Ag-Day, held each May for Moffat County fourth-graders.

"You Just Can't Have an Ag-less Day in Moffat County" is the theme for the daylong event, put on by the Moffat Cowbelles, community volunteers and 4-H and FFA members.

The Moffat Cowbelles membership currently is about 16.

Officers for the 2007 year were Florence Van Tassel, president; Dollie Frentress, vice-president; Arloa Gerber, secretary; and Mary Ryan, treasurer.

At their biannual meeting Nov. 9, the Moffat Cowbelles discussed beef promotion activities for 2008. Officers elected for 2008, to be installed in December, are Arloa Gerber, president; Dollie Frentress, vice-president; Vivian Murray, secretary; and Mary Ryan, treasurer.

Comments

arcticamy 6 years, 11 months ago

I found an old Colorado Cowbelles cookbook in my giant stack of cookbooks that have been in storage. I did a search and found this article. Interesting!

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