It is an annual event that brings the community together to celebrate the agriculture industry.
Tuesday night saw the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce hold its Ag Appreciation Night, an event that has been held every year since 1994, with the exception of 2020. The evening included a dinner, guest speaker Luc Mullinder, and the presentation of the Golden Sheaf Award. The recipient of the award this year was the Ashworth family, who farm near Oungre.
"It's very humbling and it's not something we were looking for, and we certainly appreciate the gesture of being nominated for an award like this, and yeah, we certainly appreciate it," said Kelly Ashworth.
The Ashworth family has been farming in the southeast since 1908, and Kelly purchased his first parcel of land, three quarter sections, in 1983. Now, the land has grown to include more than 100 quarters. The family moved into cattle in 1988, with the purchase of their first Simmental. Now, they have around 400 head of cattle, and host an annual sale in March.
Being active in the community is a key part of the criteria for the Golden Sheaf award, and that aspect of the lives of the Ashworth was highlighted during the presentation of the award. Janice, Kelly's wife, is the secretary of the Saint Mary's Church Council and has served on a number of boards in the area. Kelly is part of the council for the RM of Souris Valley and has been a key part of the local 4H club. Kelly was also the founding member of Southland Pulse and Long Creek Railroad.
The family has also helped STARS Air Ambulance throughout their lives, helping to raise over $140,000 for the STARS Foundation. The family holds the charity near to their heart, after one of their sons had been airlifted twice by STARS, once in 2013, and again in 2021.
One of the key themes of the night was leadership, and how it can take many forms. It was the message from the guest speaker, former Saskatchewan Roughrider Luc Mullinder. Referencing examples of different leadership styles from his playing days in the CFL, to his tenure as the colour commentator for Roughrider broadcasts and now as the vice-president of the Canadian Red Cross responsible for Saskatchewan, Mullinder tied it all back to what he called the backbone of society - agriculture.
"I'm from the Greater Toronto Area," Mullinder said after the event. "I got so much respect for the people in the ag industry. They feed the world, you know? And I think that it's been too long that, you know, it's been an underappreciated industry."
The message from Mullinder about different forms of leadership being needed to make anything successful resounded with Ashworth.
"It's just like everything else," Ashworth shared. "There are many ways and many forms of doing it, but that's the way I see it, as far as agriculture goes, and there are all shapes and sizes of leadership out there."
For Mullinder, events like the Ag Appreciation night are something near and dear to him. He pointed out that getting to come to communities throughout Saskatchewan to speak at events like this one means everything to him.
"I realized what was important to me as a person in Saskatchewan, and I want to spend the rest of my time I have, if I have any influence, I want to spend the time giving it back," Mullinder said. "I really appreciate the people that I've met here, I've got a family here now, and I think that the more I grow as a person, the more I realize I'm a lot more like the people in this room than the people back in Ontario."