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Stockmen's Dinner returns after two-year absence

Tickets are on sale until Jan. 19 for the event that honours foothills pioneer families and raises money for Friends of the Bar U.
SA-Bar U Ranch 2021 BWC 2285 web
The Bar U Ranch National Historic Site in June, 2021. Money raised at the Stockmen's Dinner supports the Friends of the Bar U's goal of furthering education and understanding of the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site in Foothills County.

Prime rib and foothills pioneer history are back on the menu in High River.

The Friends of the Bar U Stockmen’s Dinner returns to High River’s Highwood Centre on Jan. 28, featuring history presentations from three longtime foothills families who will be honoured as this year’s pioneer families.

The event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Friends of the Bar U Ranch Historic Association, and something people look forward to year after year, said Karen Ritchie, Stockmen’s Dinner chair. 

“And they'll be looking forward to it more this year, because we haven't had it since 2020,” Ritchie said.

The event had to be cancelled in 2021 and 2022, as restrictions were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the province. 

Tickets are $80 and are available at Sandul’s Pharmacy in Diamond Valley, Sobeys in High River, the Hive in Nanton or on eventbrite.ca.

This year, ticket sales end on Jan. 19, which is earlier than in past years.

“It's quite a bit earlier than people are used to, but we have to get our numbers in at that date,” Ritchie said.

This year's honourees at the dinner are the Adams/Paul, Dayment and Dingreville families.

The Dayment family hails from the Longview area, the Dingreville's are from the Cowley area, and Adams/Paul are from the area around Diamond Valley.

“Typically, each year, we honour three pioneers, families that have pioneered in the area for at least 100 years,” Ritchie said.

Families are drawn from the foothills area, roughly from the Bow River down to Highway 3. 

After dinner, each of the honourees gives a presentation about their family’s history in the area.  

“There’s always been a common theme where people are very grateful that they were asked to do this, because it gives them a reason to get their history down,” she said. 

The Stockmen’s Dinner began in 2001 to honour ranching history in the area.

After nearly 20 years collecting family histories, The Friends of the Bar U released its Pioneer Family Histories book, detailing 61 families with stories collected from the dinners. 

The book has been a big hit, Ritchie said, and copies can be found at the Blue Rock Gallery in Diamond Valley, Walker’s General Store in High River, the Millarville General Store or at the Hive and Because I Said So in Nanton. 

The Friends of the Bar U Ranch Historic Association is made up of 13 board members and a number of volunteers who help out with various tasks at the Bar U, from working in the garden or gift shop to helping out at events throughout the season.

Money raised from the dinner supports the group's goal of furthering education and understanding of the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site in Foothills County.

The group puts on a children's Christmas party and hosts ranch events at the Bar U, including a chore horse competition, ranch rodeo and more. 

“We restore ranching equipment, we acquire artifacts and restore them for public display,” Ritchie said. 

The group can always use more volunteers, she said. More information is available at friendsofthebaru.com.

-with files from Remy Greer