Farmers make their case again with 2nd Annual Meat Day

Meg Soyars For Sky-Hi News

Grand County’s second annual Meat-In Day took place over the weekend, giving businesses that depend on meat production and agriculture a chance to show off. The benefits of Meat-In Day were two-fold. First, businesses could attract customers through special offers and discounts. Second, the event highlighted the importance of agricultural production in the community, especially cattle raising.

In Kremmling, Middle Park Meat celebrated the day with the inauguration of its food truck, the Meat Wagon. The Meat Wagon offers BBQ takeout, such as brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, pork or beef quesadillas, Polish sausages, and cheddar and jalapeno brats. Manager Rachelle Wolfe anticipates that the food truck will eventually deliver barbecue to Kremmling, alongside their pizza delivery service, Mustang Mania Pizza. Their pizzas offer a touch of barbecue and are loaded with meat.

Middle Park Meat also offered special offers in its window. Customers were able to enjoy burgers and sausages for $5/lb and 10% off everything else. The company sells a variety of meats, fish, cheeses and sweets. They also offer catering for events.

The store is a long-standing institution in Kremmling, which began as a meat processing plant in the 1950s. It later became known for selling local meats and supporting ranchers. Current owners, Mitch and Christina Lockhart, also own Troublesome Meat Processing, which focuses on wild game.

At the event, Kremmling Mercantile, owned by Dave and Karen Hammer, gave away free burgers. In Granby, Fitch Ranch Meat and Market offered 25% off all of its current beef inventory, along with live music on March 20. The Fitch family also owns Debbie’s Drive In and FR Steakhouse in Grand Lake, they have a long history as a family rancher, and they recently purchased a meat processing plant from Craig.

What all of these companies have in common is that they depend on the agricultural industry for their livelihood. Livestock is integrated into the fabric of Grand County. In the late 1800s, settlers chose the area for its grassy prairies and plentiful water supply, perfect for raising livestock like cattle and sheep. This tradition has continued to the present day, with 290 farms operating in Grand County, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The county is also known as a hunting paradise, attracting hunters from across the country for elk, deer and moose. For state data, there were 38,700 farms and ranches in Colorado in 2020, with farm cash receipts totaling $7.48 billion in 2019.

The importance of ranching in Grand is undeniable, so when Gov. Jared Polis championed a statewide “MeatOut Day” in March of last year, it quickly backfired. The people of Grand County wanted to celebrate local meat production and ranching, not refrain. The Board of County Commissioners declared March 20, 2021, and that date annually thereafter, to be “Grand County Ranching, Livestock, and MEAT-IN DAY,” according to their resolution. The commissioners said it was “to promote the importance and support the industry of ranching and agriculture in the State of Colorado.”

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Edward L. Robinett