The Moffat County Cowbelles organization is trying to bolster its membership. Some current members are, from left, president Arloa Gerber, vice president Dollie Frentress and secretary Vivian Murray.

Photo by Ben Bulkeley

The Moffat County Cowbelles organization is trying to bolster its membership. Some current members are, from left, president Arloa Gerber, vice president Dollie Frentress and secretary Vivian Murray.

Cowbelles recruiting new members

"Beef: It's What's For Dinner."

According to Moffat County Cowbelle president Arloa Gerber, the main goal of the Cowbelles is promoting beef.

But that's not all.

"To raise beef, you have to have hay," Gerber said.

Others in the beef industry agree with her. So, in recent years, beef promotion has been expanded to include agriculture (in general) and stewardship of the land.

Nobody remembers when the Moffat County Cowbelles were first organized, but an old newspaper article suggests that they were meeting back as far as 1952.

The members were all ranch women then (though it wasn't a membership requirement) who represented all areas of Moffat County. They were from Maybell, Hamilton, Lay, and Craig.

Cowbelle organizations cropped up all across the state, and the Colorado State Cowbelles was formed, with officers representing local organizations from around the state.

Eventually the "Cowbelles" name was changed to "CattleWomen" in many of the organizations. However, the Moffat County Cowbelles name remains unchanged today.

In those earlier years, the local Cowbelles goal was to assist the Moffat County Cattlemen's Association in promoting beef.

Members put cards with "Eat Beef" messages in restaurants and convinced grocers to put special stickers on meat packages. They gave out beef certificates, set up promotional booths and did other promotional work.

But there was more.

The women planned the annual Cattlemen's Banquet and hosted teas and other social events, even entertaining the wives of visiting agriculture band government dignitaries.

Members raised money for all of their activities by holding raffles, serving lunches at feeder sales, and designing and selling county brand napkins.

Today, the goal of the Moffat County Cowbelles is the same as when the organization was started, but the emphasis has been placed on education, especially teaching elementary children where their food comes from.

The biggest difference between the Moffat County Cowbelles organization of the 1950s and '60s and 2009 has to do with the women's roles.

Today, many ranch women work away from home, as well as on the ranch.

As a result, finding time to attend meetings and do committee work is a challenge. The current membership of the Moffat County Cowbelles is about 20 women, compared to 67 back in the 1960s.

So, during the month of October, when dues for local, state, and national Cowbelle/Cattlewomen organizations are being collected, the Moffat County Cowbelles are recruiting members.

Some ongoing projects of the Moffat County Cowbelles include giving awards for beef breeding projects during the fair, providing scholarships for agriculture students, manning promotional booths, and giving presentations in local school classrooms. Ag-Day, an educational event for county fourth graders, is an annual event sponsored by the Cowbelles.

Selling brand napkins, scarves, and "throws" are some of the money-making projects for the organization.

But all of this takes lots of time, leg work, and fresh ideas. The Cowbelles are looking for members who would enjoy serving on committees to carry on the organization's projects.

Active members also can get involved with the Colorado State CattleWomen and regional groups, such as the Colorado CattleWomen's Northwest Council, to which Moffat County Cowbelles belong.

The current officers of the Moffat County Cowbelles are: Arloa Gerber, president; Dollie Frentress, vice president; Vivian Murray, secretary; and Mary Ryan, treasurer.

Meetings take place at 5:30 p.m. every third Thursday of the month. The next Cowbelle meeting is Oct. 15 at 421 Taylor Street.

People wishing to join can pay $5 dues to join the local organization or they also can join state and/or national CattleWomen organizations.

For more information, call Arloa Gerber at 824-3396 or Dollie Frentress at 824-3340.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2009.

If you have story ideas, Diane Prather can be reached by writing to her at Box 415, Craig 81626.

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