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The legacy of the dairy industry

Pictured from left are Marty McKinzie, vice president of Dairy Max; Brennen Johnson, program coordinator of Dairy Max; Beverly Idsinger, executive director of Dairy Producers of New Mexico; and Amy McVay-Davis, executive director of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico. McKinzie and Johnson traveled all the way from Texas for the 38th Annual Heritage Award Dinner on Tuesday evening at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds. (Christina Stock Photo)

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The Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico’s 38th Heritage Award Dinner — a family affair

The Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico (HSSENM) and its board of directors honored an entire industry on Tuesday evening that shaped Roswell and Chaves County: The dairy industry. The guests were greeted at the 38th Annual Heritage Dinner with the tunes of the band Hot Club on the Pecos as they entered the large commercial building on the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds. HSSENM board members and volunteers were ready to sign the guests in and help them find their tables.

“I think this is the biggest sit-down dinner we have ever done. Donovan Fulkerson (Relicwood Drape & Decor) did the drapes,” Amy McVay-Davis, organizer and executive director for the HSSENM, said. “We could have never done this without the help of the New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe. They helped set it up and tomorrow morning, they are helping to put it all away again.” McVay-Davis didn’t have the exact numbers of guests at press time.

The first table row was reserved for the honorees, a who’s who of the dairy industry and their families, such as Dairy Max, Select Milk Producers, Three Amigos, DeGroot Dairy, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Nature’s Dairy, Southland Dairy, Woodcrest Dairy, Cheyenne Dairy, Southland Dairy and Dairy Farms of America. “They came from all over,” McVay-Davis said. The pioneers of the dairy industry of Chaves County in attendance were Brad Houston and his family from Price’s Dairy, the family of Raymond Pollard of Pollard Dairy and the family of Jim Hoffman from Baca Linda Dairy. “The family of Clardy’s Dairy was unable to attend,” McVay-Davis wrote in an email.

Politicians, artists and leaders of the community rubbed shoulders with the hardworking families of the dairy industry while checking out the silent auction items before the evening’s program and dinner began. There was a small bidding war going on for a cowhide bag that went way over the estimated value. Other items were a very large mechanical nutcracker, valued at $750, as well as a hotel stay for eight adults in Ruidoso and a bighorn sheep hunt. Other items were donated by various businesses and supporters of HSSENM and included gift baskets, jewelry and art.

An emotional rendition of the National Anthem was given by Mary González, and Josiah Strange led the guests in the Pledge of Allegiance. Sean Lee of Grace Community Church gave the invocation, praying for the stewards of this land and “to be grateful for all we have.” After the dinner was served to the premiere sponsors and honorees, the buffet was opened. The catering and staff were provided by Peppers Grill & Bar.

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As it is tradition for the heritage dinners in the past, a special setting was put up showcasing the pioneers of the dairy industry: Clardy’s Dairy, Pollard Dairy, Price’s Dairy, Baca Linda Dairy and Nature’s Dairy. Another section was dedicated to the memories of HSSENM honorees that have passed away this year, such as retired HSSENM chief archivist Elvis Fleming, HSSENM original member Morgan Nelson, Judge Alvin Jones and David González.

A special video presentation entertained the audience, courtesy of Mike McCloskey and Sue McCloskey of Fair Oaks Farm and Select Milk Producers. “They provided the Fairlife milk for the evening and are our premiere event sponsor,” McVay-Davis said.

A presentation by Jeff Witte, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and Charlie DeGroot, board president of Dairy Producers of New Mexico, followed the dinner. A proclamation by County Commissioner Dara Dana ended the official program.

After the event ended, McVay-Davis wrote in an email, “The 38th Annual Heritage Dinner would have never been possible without the generosity of the wonderful community of Roswell and all our generous sponsors. What an honor and privilege it has been to honor the dairy industry of Chaves County.”

Vision Editor Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.

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