Cattlewomens BBQ hands off tradition to firefighters

The Cattlewomens barbecue has become an annual tradition ever since the organization of ranching women started it in 1970, when they were called the White Pine Cowbells.

Then in 1990, the organization was renamed to the White Pine Cattlewomen in a move to make the name more “politically correct” said member Leslie Martin.

Now, in 2015, the Cattlewomen will add one more milestone to their anticipated lamb barbecue, as it will mark the last year members from the group will help put on the event, before handing over the full responsibilities to the Ely Volunteer Fire Department. According to Martin, the hand off will come as a great relief to the few remaining Cattlewomen members involved in the large social outdoor event that kicks off the White Pine County Fair and Horse Race weekend.

“Last year was the first year that we partnered with the volunteer firefighters. This year will be the second and last year we both put it on before they take it over completely next year. This is a very happy transition,” Martin said.

Even under new leadership next year, the event will still retain the Cattlewomens name so as not to disrupt the tradition or confuse those who are already familiar with the event.

According to Martin, as the number of available cattlewomen members available to run the event began to fall off, several members husbands began to volunteer to help out, most of which also belonged to the Ely Volunteer Fire Department. Thus began the unofficial relationship between the two organizations.

According to Volunteer EMT April Bath, the Cattlewomen have laid a solid groundwork for how to do the event right for the volunteer firefighters and EMTs.

“They have been putting this event on for so many years, they have it down to a science,” Bath said.

Having volunteered to help with last year’s Cattlewomens barbecue, Bath said that the two years of working together, combined with the Cattlewomens documented recipes and step by step plan of action for how to put on the barbecue means that there should be no noticeable difference in the event come next year when it will be completely run by the volunteer fire department; which is important, Bath said, because of how central the event has become to the community.

“The barbecue is an icon in this community. It is an event that everyone looks forward to and everyone knows about,” Bath said. “The fire department is all about tradition and the barbecue is a tradition in White Pine County and we didn’t want to see that fade away.”

Volunteer fireman and County Assessor Burton Hilton also helped prepare and serve the food at last year’s barbecue. He said that it makes sense to have volunteers continue the annual event because that has proven to be the way things get done in White Pine County.

“We are just doing it as community servants. The next day I’ll be working in the paramutual taking bets to help keep the horse races going. It takes an army to make these events happen, from the whole county fair to so many other events in the community that make us and make the community who we are,” Hilton said.

All of the money raised by the $15 entry fee to the barbecue goes towards scholarships for high school seniors in White Pine County. According to Bath, that policy will remain the same when the volunteer fire department takes it over next year.

Tickets to the Aug. 21 event are on sale now at Economy Drug, D and D Financial, the Ely Volunteer Fire Department, Chamber of Commerce and the Bristlecone Convention Center. Tickets will also be available at the gate. Dinner will be served from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

(Courtesy photo) Hungry people line up at the concession stand at the White Pine County Fairgrounds to get their fresh lamb at last year’s barbecue.

(Courtesy photo)
Hungry people line up at the concession stand at the White Pine County Fairgrounds to get their fresh lamb at last year’s barbecue.

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