CO Ag Council: Cook-off competition at the Capitol highlights Agriculture Week in Colorado
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The “most popular event under the Golden Dome” was once again a success, as Gov. John Hickenlooper, state officials, the media and others took part in a well-deserved “thank you” to Colorado’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses during Agriculture Day at the Capitol on Wednesday.
With an estimated 900 people in attendance, the event was highlighted by a cook-off competition that featured the teaming up of local chefs, lawmakers and ag representatives, creating dishes with Colorado-grown foods.
The day also included remarks from Gov. Hickenlooper, Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Don Brown, Senate Ag Committee Chair Jerry Sonnenberg, House Ag Committee Chair Jeni Arndt, and Colorado Agriculture Council Chair Julie McCaleb.
Each year, Colorado’s Agriculture Day at the Capitol takes place during National Ag Week, and showcases all that Colorado’s industry does for our state, highlighting its efforts in feeding Colorado’s 5 million-plus people, its stewardship of our resources, and its $40 billion economic impact – a top two or three contributor to the state’s economy each year.
“This is the day we look forward to the most during the entire 120-day session,” Gov. Hickenlooper said in his remarks on Wednesday, referring to the popularity of Agriculture Day at the Capitol and the cook-off competition among state lawmakers. “It’s an enjoyable event, but it’s also a time that we take a moment and truly reflect on how good we really have it here in Colorado, thanks to our ag industry.”
The event – hosted by the organizations that make up the Colorado Agriculture Council – also took time this year to recognize the ag industry’s incredible generosity to those in need. According to Bob O’Connor, executive director of the Weld Food Bank and chair of the Feeding Colorado Board, Colorado’s ag industry is continually one of its biggest supporters.
In 2016, the ag industry’s product and monetary contributions to Colorado’s five Feeding America food banks totaled up to $16,085,678.
“Our No. 1 goal is providing healthy, nutritious food to the many Coloradans who face food insecurity, and there is no one who helps us more in that effort than the ag industry,” O’Connor said at the podium.
Additionally, each of the speakers on Wednesday took time to recognize the many families who have been impacted in northeast Colorado by the recent wildfires. Julie McCaleb reported that the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association has so far raised $150,000 in its efforts to provide relief funds for impacted producers, and the Colorado Farm Bureau had raised an additional $80,000-plus. She stressed, however, that more support would be needed to help these families during their lengthy recoveries.
With Agriculture Day at the Capitol in 2017 once again enjoying the success it’s seen in recent years, the Colorado Agriculture Council wanted to thank all of the chefs who participated in the event this week: David Bondarchuck with Scratch Catering; Brandon Durio with Cherry Creek School District; Aran Essig with the University of Northern Colorado; Danny Flannaghan with Sanctuary Golf Course; Bob Halloway with McCoy’s Restaurant; Klaus Krebs with Isle Casino and Hotel; Jackson Lamb with Metro State University; Daniel Marciani with Ardent Mills; Rhett Montigue with Sanctuary Golf Course; Chris Moore with Revenna Golf Course; Jason Morse with 5280 Culinary; Ron Pickarski with Eco-Cuisine and the Colorado Chefs Association; Greg Sever with Morning Star Senior Living; and Mark Yacovetta with Valley Country Club.
The winners of Wednesday’s 14-team cook-off competition were:
Best All Around
Chef Brandon Durio with Cherry Creek School District
Representing the Colorado Wool Growers Association, and using Colorado-raised lamb
Team Legislator: Rep. Perry Buck
Chef Klaus Krebs with Isle Casino and Hotel
Representing Colorado Egg Producers, and using Colorado-produced eggs
Team Legislator: Rep. Jeni Arndt
Chef Bob Holloway with McCoy’s Restaurant
Representing the Western Dairy Association, and using Colorado dairy products
Team Legislators: Rep. Kimmi Lewis and Sen. Steve Fenberg
Chef Mark Yacovetta with Valley Country Club
Representing the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers, and using Colorado-grown produce
Team Legislator: Sen. Don Coram