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Forty years of supporting agriculture

The Interlakes Cattlebelles are still going strong with new and old members
Interlakes CattleBelles members Helen Horn (left) and Pat Lytton reminisce about the group’s endeavours over the past 35 years. (Melissa Smalley photo) Interlakes CattleBelles members Helen Horn (left) and Pay Lytton reminisce about the group’s endeavours over the past 35 years. (Melissa Smalley photo)

For 40 years the Interlakes CattleBelles have offered up their famous beef-on-a-bun, along with plenty of good advice.

The group will mark that major milestone this year at their annual fall social being held at the Interlakes Community Centre on Oct. 21.

“We have a social every year because we like to invite people, the ranchers or friends of the CattleBelles,” said Ginny-Lou Alexander, one of four original founding members including Helen Horn, who just celebrated her 100th birthday, Pat Lytton and Lorraine Jerema.

A provincial CattleBelles group was formed in 1974 as the women’s auxiliary to the BC Cattlemen’s Association. The local chapter formed in 1983 and when the B.C.-wide group disbanded in 1988, the local chapter decided to continue independently.

Now, the local CattleBelles are hoping for an influx of new members to ensure the group reaches new milestones in the future.

“I mean, we’re getting a few younger members now and that’s one of the pushes that we’ve got on is to get some new, younger members,” Alexander said.

New members are always welcome to join the organization, whether they are farmers, ranchers, patio gardeners or just someone who wants to know more about cooking or preserving local produce, she added.

Over the four decades, CattleBelles members have seen much change.

In the early days, local ranchers supplied homegrown beef which members of the CattleBelles roasted for that famous, mouth-watering beef-on-a-bun. Regulations now require the CattleBelles to buy beef from somewhere like Superstore, costing more in both dollars and time.

The group also needs to have permits from the health department, anyone handling food in the kitchen needs FoodSafe, they need a wash station.

“And you know, on it goes,” said Alexander.

The fall social will include a silent auction to raise funds for the CattleBelles’ scholarship program and to support the 4-H clubs in the area.

“We give them money for their trophies,” Alexander said.

The group is dedicated to the support and promotion of agriculture through education, local events and workshops. They have invasive weed and grain seed displays they set up at various events across the region, and offer a $500 high school scholarship with preference given to students pursuing a career in the field of agriculture. And once a month they rent a table at the South Cariboo Farmers’ Market where they sell baking, preserves and other homemade items.

“What we’re trying to do now is teach people how to do stuff. We’re finding out they don’t even know how to bake bread,” she said.

An upcoming workshop scheduled for Nov. 4 will teach people how to do just that and another planned for February will offer gardening tips for newcomers to the Cariboo. Group members are also working on an update to their cookbook, Beef Recipe Round-Up, first published in 1986.

People from all over the province were invited to submit their favourite beef recipes. Group members had a cook-off day, trying each recipe out and choosing their favourites.

“We had so much fun. Each of us took home half a dozen recipes. I took home organ meat ones,” said Alexander. “There was only one that I figured was really a winner, Liver Haters Special. Even my kids would eat liver after I cooked that,” she said with a laugh.

For more information on the CattleBelles or the upcoming social, call Lorraine Jerema at 250-609-4144 or Ginny-Lou Alexander at 250-395-3555.

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Fiona Grisswell

About the Author: Fiona Grisswell

I graduated from the Writing and New Media Program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George in 2004.
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