The grand champion market steer of the Boulder County Fair represents the best of what 4-H farmers have to offer. This year, thanks to a donation from local business sponsors, that prize will help feed community members served by Longmont Meals on Wheels.
At the junior market livestock sale that closed out last month’s fair, Chris Rusk and Neil Motley banded together to buy the steer. On Wednesday, Rusk and Motley joined John Herring, president of the Boulder County Fair Junior Livestock Sale Committee, in bringing a truck bed filled with packaged meat from the animal to the LMOW kitchen at the Longmont Senior Center.
“That’s probably six, seven thousand dollars of savings right there,” LMOW head chef Charles Mascarenas said about the donation.
Mascarenas and his team cook around 500 meals a day, and the donation should cover roughly two weeks of meat entrees. The meat was delivered in patties, ground beef, cuts for stew and other forms that Mascarenas can turn into nutritious meals for people who need them.
Rusk is the service manager for the Mike Maroone Ford Longmont dealership, and Motley is the branch manager for 21st Century Equipment east of Longmont. While both men have supported other local food banks and Meals on Wheels locations for years, this is the first time either of them have donated a fair purchase to LMOW.
Additionally, while LMOW has received meat from Boulder County Fair business sponsors in the past, including a pork donation last year, Mascarenas said it’s been a while since the nonprofit has gotten beef.
“Whenever we serve pot roast or anything with beef, our numbers in the dining room go up for that day, just because a lot of people at home can’t afford to buy the meat,” Mascarenas explained. “This is one way for a lot of people to really get a taste of how good that meat really is.”
Motley also emphasized the high quality of the meat and its homegrown, farm-to-freezer elements.
“Your food doesn’t actually come on Styrofoam in plastic wrap,” Motley said. “This meat is being handled the best possible way it can be. These animals are being raised the best possible way they can be raised. So if we can expose people to that story, the true story of the rancher heritage of the West … then we’ve succeeded.”
Colleen Larsen, a longtime LMOW volunteer, said the donation aligns with the nonprofit’s mission of keeping seniors in their homes as long as possible through good nutrition.
“I go out and I deliver to these people all the time, and it’s just huge when they say, ‘These meals taste so good, I would have never cooked this for myself,’” Larsen said.
The champion steer was raised by Jett Hinze, who also won the senior category of the 4-H Beef Showmanship competition. This was Hinze’s last year showing at the fair, as the Erie High School graduate is now attending the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
Hinze’s 1,435-pound steer was bought by Rusk and Motley for $10,000 – a record, according to Herring.
“We set records across the board,” Herring said. “The average steer brought eight grand to the kids going through the sale. At those prices, the kids can make a significant amount of money.”
For Rusk, whose kids used to show livestock at the fair, buying the steer was a chance to support both the 4-H members who dedicate so much time to raising their animals as well as a nonprofit close to his heart.
“My wife’s grandmother lived in town for a lot of years, and she was a recipient of Meals on Wheels,” said Rusk. “The amount of meat we can give you guys … it really gives back to the community we work in and we live in, so that’s the best thing we can do.”
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