Farm Family of the Year nominations

Nominations for the 2023 Farm Family of the Year will be accepted until Jan. 20, 2023.

Learn more and fill out the form here!

The county recognizes contributions from all citizens make up our tremendous community. From small acts to massive undertakings, there is a huge variety in the way these contributions manifest themselves.
We routinely celebrate both families and individuals who consistently make positive differences.
See below for lists of past winners.

Forbes’ named county’s Farm Family of the Year for 2022

The Forbes family: Back row: Kyle (left), Allana, Carina and Casey Forbes; and Jerrod and Hilary Blanchette. Middle row: Alexa, Tristan, Patti and Gord Forbes; Tessa Blanchette. Front row: Korbin, Kaden and Quinn Forbes; Kate Blanchette.

When the Forbes Family is presented with their plaque at the Medicine Hat Stampede for being Cypress County’s 2022 Farm Family of the Year, many of them won’t have to go far to get to the main stage.

With Gord running a gate in the rodeo’s infield, son-in-law Jerrod Blanchette not far away taking scores from the judges, daughter Hilary helping with the country in the city show, and son Kyle in charge of the wagon committee, the joke is that Patti might be up there on her own getting the prestigious award.

“I'm not sure how we're going to do that,” laughed Gord of his wife of 41 years. “We told Patti we wouldn't leave her high and dry, we'd have somebody to stand with her in the arena, anyway.”

Add in their eldest son Casey being away for the weekend and there wasn’t a chance of a full group photo anyways. But that’s the mark of a great family – busy in the community and enjoying every minute of it.

The Forbes family is the county’s first Farm Family of the Year since 2020, when the Dick family was named to the honour. Due to the pandemic, there was no winner in 2021.

The award is paired with the Calgary Stampede and BMO Financial Group’s Farm Family Awards, for which the Forbes’ were nominated for. They received it July 11 along with 18 other southern Alberta families, feted with a full day of festivities at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

“It was kind of shocking,” said Patti of being chosen for the awards.

“There's a lot of real well-deserving families around Cypress County,” added Gord. “To be recognized along with them, we're humbled to hear that they thought of us.”

Noting they might fly under the radar at times with their Cottonwood Livestock operation out near Suffield, the Forbes’ have embodied a strong sense of community and perseverance with their cow/calf ranch. Gord grew up in Maple Creek and came to work on stepfather Alex McDougald’s farm in 1978; Patti grew up in Medicine Hat. Together they’ve faced all sorts of challenges head-on.

“I think Gord adapts really well,” said Patti. “When we had the big drought (in the early 2000’s), he decided he couldn't feed his way out of it, so we sold all of our cattle, got back in the next year when the grass was better.

“We've done different things to keep the operation going. We've pumped water out eight miles to fill dugouts in the past.”

“A year like the last couple years when there's been drought, it's taken quite a toll here,” said Gord. “We had to manage our ranch a little bit different; last year was the first we switched to silage. We could buy corn silage a lot cheaper, have it trucked in. This year, silage has climbed up in price too because of the grain prices.”

But, he maintains, they’re lucky due to what the landscape gives them. The mighty South Saskatchewan River borders the ranch; however, cattle are prevented from getting to it to protect the riparian areas.

There aren’t a lot of close neighbours in the expansive county either, but that’s only geographical. The family regularly hosts visitors from CFB Suffield, and Casey coaches hockey both at the base and in Redcliff. Kyle is the chairman for the Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association, while Hilary and her husband Jerrod run Holsom Equine, a conditioning and rehabilitation business for horses.

“We've made a lot of real good friends through the base up there, we have contact with them still,” noted Gord. “It's nice, they involve us in a number of things they do up there.”

And the Forbes’ are happy to get involved, too. Though Patti admits that with seven grandkids, she’s happily had to cut back on volunteering.

“Gord would go to a meeting, for whatever, then he'd come home and say 'honey, they need somebody to be the rodeo secretary for Ralston and I told them you'd do it,’” she laughed. “‘They need a treasurer for the grazing association, I told them you'd do it.’ I don't let him go to meetings unattended anymore! I've got too many little ones (now). But it was always fun.”

The Forbes family will be celebrated at the Friday, July 29 rodeo performance at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede.

Farm Family Award Winners 

2022Gord and Patti Forbes
2021No nominations due to COVID-19
2020Jim and Cheryl Dick
2019Cash Cattle Co. (Arlin, Connie, Blaine, and Nolan)
2018Keith and Kody Traxel
2017Laverne Gill Family
2016Mark and Nicole Neubauer
2015Trevor and Janet Biemens
2014Herb and Matilda, Gerald and Dallas, Keith and Kim Weiss
2012Norman and Jean Bauer
2011 n/a
2007Gary Franz
2006Geoff and Melanie Watson
2005Biemans Family Farm
2004Gene and Pam Ehret
2003Jonathan and Arlene Aberle
2002Orville and Judy Yanke
2001Vern and Vivienne Pancoast
2000Shortgrass Ranches
1998 Brian, Betty and Andy Kirschenman
1997 Barry and Sandy Schorr
1996Keith and Ronda Reesor

Citizen of the Year (Cypress Courier/county council) 

2021 N/A
2020 N/A
2019 George Russill
2018 Nichole Neubauer
2017 Diane Good
2016 Leanne Dulle
2015 Don Wong
2014 Gary & Elaine Lehr 
2013 Arvid & Evonne Kurpjuweit 
2012 Leslie Nemeth 
2011 David & Pat Dennis 
2010 Darlene Doane 
2009 Bill Matuska 
2008  N/A
2007 Charmaine Wood 
2006 Emmy Reesor 
2005 Wilbur (Tub) Boettcher
2004 Sandy Fahlman 
2003 Emma Kajewski
2002 N/A
2001 Marion Haas 
2000 Antonia Herman 
1999 Susan Martin-Hudec 
1998 Joyce Veale 
1997 Shirley Rassmussen
1996 Lorraine Mauch
1995 Joann Paul
1994 Sharon Good
1993 Myrna Bushell
1992 Bob Thompson 
1991 Kathy Krause
1990 Memory Myers
1989 Ruth Stuber