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Ag Appreciation Banquet honors area ranchers

Wayne and Susan Nelson are chosen as this year’s 2019 Farmer/Rancher of the Year. Submitted photo.

The Bowman Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Ag Appreciation Banquet last week Wednesday at the 4 Seasons Pavilion.

By Frank Turner

Complete with a free meal and comedic entertainment, the event celebrated both farmers and ranchers in the surrounding region. For over thirty years, the banquet has been honoring select, local producers that have made contributions to agriculture, their communities, and the surrounding region.

“Not only do we celebrate agriculture and our community, which has its roots in agriculture, but we also choose an individual, couple, or ranch to honor for the evening,” said organizer of the event, Chamber Board Member Beth Criswell.

This year’s honorees were life-long ranchers Wayne and Susan Nelson from Harding County. Growing up, both Wayne and Susan attended country schools in Harding County and high school in Bowman.

After getting married in 1978, Wayne and Susan purchased cows and started their own ranch operation. A year later, they started rebuilding the homestead of Wayne’s grandparents, Peder and Marie Tollefsrud, making them the third generation to live on the Tollefrsud homestead.

“Ranching is something we have done all our life,” said Susan. “I just love it. It’s just a way of life and a great way to raise a family.”

Both Wayne and Susan are also deeply involved in their local community. Wayne and Susan are confirmed members of the Ladner Lutheran Church, members of the Bullock Community Club and have held numerous offices in those organizations. Wayne has served on the Harding County Weed Board, the Harding County Fair board, the Sunrise Foundation and is currently a member of the Masonic Lodge. Susan served as a member of the local Lutheran Brotherhood branch and is a current member of the Harding County Fair Board.

Wayne and Susan have three children, Kayla, Chad and Kaycee. Ultimately, it was Wayne and Susan’s children who nominated them for the honor. Susan said that both she and Wayne were deeply honored to learn that they were chosen for the honor.

“My kids said, ‘oh by the way, we nominated you for Ag Rancher of the Year and you won,’” said Susan. “When I heard, my mouth dropped and tears just started running down my face. It’s just an overwhelming honor.”

She continued, “It was nothing that we were expecting, for sure,” she said. “We work the land to leave it better than we found it. That’s our motto.”

At the event, Wayne and Susan thanked their kids for all the work they contributed to their ranch.

“They have helped so much in building our place,” said Susan. “I can’t emphasize that enough. From the time they were five years old, they were riding horse and helping move cattle and doing everything around the ranch.”

Overall, Criswell said the banquet was a success and over 250 people attended the event.

“I hope everyone realizes the banquet is a free meal for everybody,” said Criswell. “It’s called Ag Appreciation, but it’s also community appreciation with our community so rooted in agriculture.”

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