Press Release

25 Centennial Farms & Ranches Honorees Recognized by History Colorado

DENVER — August 17, 2023 — History Colorado is happy to announced the twenty-five Centennial Farms & Ranches honorees for 2023. Created in partnership with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Centennial Farms & Ranches Program honors the contributions of the state’s ranching and farming families who have withstood the pressures of growth, changes in farming methods, drought, and economic conditions to preserve important pieces of our state's commercial and cultural history.

Luke Perkins, Manager of Communications and Public Relations
303.866.3670 | 

The 2023 honorees include both farms and ranches as well as families, agribusinesses, and a farmer who dedicated the majority of their more than 100 years of life to agricultural pursuits within Colorado. Honorees will be recognized at the 2023 Colorado State Fair on August 25 at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.

“In Colorado, agriculture is foundational to understanding our collective roots,” said Dawn DiPrince, president/CEO of History Colorado and State Historic Preservation Officer. “This beloved annual event spotlights the agricultural people and families who have persevered for more than 100 years and continue to preserve the food systems that nourish us.”

In addition to celebrating the 2023 Centennial Farms & Ranches honorees, DiPrince and Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, Kate Greenberg, will present the second annual Agricultural Legacy Awards.

Highlighted Honorees
Walter Amen | Centennial Farmer/Rancher | Logan County

The only Centennial Farmer/Rancher to be honored this year, Walter Amen (1922-2023) was born March 24, 1922, and lived in the same house he was born in on his family’s farm until his death on July 8, 2023. Raised alongside three sisters and a brother, Walter grew up working on the land with his parents growing sugar beets, corn, and alfalfa in addition to raising Hereford cows, Holstein milk cows and chickens. 

An inventor by nature, Walter also designed and built numerous pieces of customized machinery and equipment over the 101 years he stewarded his family farm. Included amongst his creations are alfalfa sweeps, a farmhand loader built from a school bus chassis, sugar beet harvesting equipment, and much more.

Known as a wise, knowledgeable, and loving patriarch of Amen Angus Farms, Inc.’s multi-generational operation, Walter guided his family through multiple transitions including the change from horses to tractors and the welcome addition of rubber tires. At the top of Walter’s accomplishments was pioneering the use of Irrigated Grass in his community in 1952. This innovation proved to be one of his most successful ventures, contributed to him receiving the Pioneer Award from the Colorado Angus Association in 2004, and continues to be a staple of his family’s farm.

Western Sugar Cooperative | Centennial Agribusiness | Morgan County
Founded in the early twentieth century as the Great Western Sugar Company and purchased by a multi-state worker cooperative in 2002, the Western Sugar Cooperative is a pioneer in the sugar beet industry of Northern Colorado. Operated by more than 800 grower/owners this agribusiness plants over 100,000 acres of sugar beets and produces more than 10 million hundredweights of sugar a year

Since becoming grower-owned, Western Sugar Cooperative has become the industry leader in sustainability, including adopting climate-smart farming practices that have increased yield per acre from 8,000 to 11,000 pounds while also reducing their carbon footprint, using less resources, and increasing soil health. The Coop has been  certified 100% Gold following on-farm audits of their sustainability efforts and earned a Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities in 2022 from the Biden Administration – all while providing living wages and benefits to their employees and driving roughly $100 million in economic activity across Colorado.

In addition to its economic productivity, the Coop has also prioritized ways to turn its waste streams into valuable byproducts. This includes converting beet fibers into livestock feed, turning limestone used to refine sugar into a drying agent for livestock pens that helps prevent hoof rot, and regenerating degraded soil across Colorado with the carbon rich byproducts of the refinement process.

The Families of The Dry | Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer Agricultural Legacy Award | Otero County
A testament to Black agricultural excellence, The Dry – a predominately black homestead community in Otero County – has been awarded the Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer Agricultural Legacy Award. Founded in the early 1900s, The Dry is part of the long and often overlooked history of Black accomplishments in the Centennial State and this award recognizes the families who dreamed of a farm community where they could build a life free of racial discrimination in Southeast Colorado. 

Fortified by the tenacity of women – including Alice McDonald, award recipient and last living resident of The Dry – this community carved out a special place within the harsh landscape of Colorado’s short grass prairie. Despite the bleak water resources that gave the homestead its name, Josephine and Lenora Rucker, and the other Black families they recruited, were able to establish roots fed by freedom, community, and resilience and forge a legacy which continues to this day.

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm and Ranch Enterprise | Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Legacy in Agriculture Award | Montezuma County
Nestled in Southwest Colorado below the sleeping Ute Mountain on Ute Mountain Ute Tribal land, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm and Ranch Enterprise is a true beacon of adaptation, innovation, and sustainability. Rooted in Tribal culture and history, this 7700 acre operation - built over the last nearly four decades by General Manager Simon Martinez and his team - raises alfalfa, corn, and cattle. 

The team leading the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm and Ranch Enterprise never ceases to be on the leading edge of agricultural production, conservation, and cultural legacy. The enterprise raises everything from iconic Bow & Arrow Livestock and non-GMO corn meal by the same name that supplies restaurants around the country. The Farm and Ranch Enterprise also employs microhydro energy production and advanced irrigation technology, all while following the beneficial use of the water decree by the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement.

A complete list of the 2023 Centennial Farms & Ranches honorees can be found here.

About the Centennial Farms & Ranches Program
History Colorado, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, and the Colorado State Fair have partnered to honor Colorado’s agricultural heritage through the Centennial Farms & Ranches program since 1986, when the program was initiated by former Governor Richard Lamm. 

In 2022, the Centennial Farms & Ranches program was expanded to recognize four categories of honorees associated with the agricultural history of the State of Colorado:

  • Centennial Farms or Ranches – farms or ranches that have belonged to the same family for at least 100 years, and are currently working farms or ranches
  • Centennial Families – families with agricultural experience in Colorado that spans 100 or more years (eg. 1923-present), not necessarily as landowners
  • Centennial Farmers or Ranchers – individuals 100 years of age or older who have spent a majority of their life in agricultural pursuits within the State of Colorado, even if they were not landowners
  • Centennial AgriBusiness – organizations or businesses that have been in operation for 100 or more years and primarily serve the agricultural community in Colorado (examples: seed companies, farm implement manufacturers, Farm Bureaus, etc.)

More than 663 families, agribusinesses, and individuals have been recognized by the program. Collectively, they represent the powerful history of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers who have sustained, supported, and innovated for more than 100 years.

About the Colorado Department of Agriculture
The Colorado Department of Agriculture exists to support the state's agriculture industry and serve the people of Colorado through regulation, advocacy, and education. Its mission is to strengthen and advance Colorado agriculture, promote a safe and high-quality food supply, protect consumers, and foster responsible stewardship of the environment and natural resources. Learn more at

A division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the mission of the Colorado State Fair Authority is to celebrate Colorado’s vibrant and diverse agricultural industry and culture by creating an entertaining, inspiring, and educational inter-generational experience. 

About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 143-year-old institution that operates eleven museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which provides technical assistance, educational opportunities, and other access to archaeology and historic preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is one of the nation’s largest state funded preservation programs of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state. Additionally, the offices of the State Archaeologist and the State Historic Preservation Officer are part of History Colorado. 

History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and 10 other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information. #HistoryColorado