Ag Day has been taking place since 1981 and is a tradition that celebrates Colorado’s agricultural history. Colorado agriculture has always been and continues to be a vital part of our state’s history and economy. Agriculture is the second-largest industry in Colorado, providing more than 86,000 jobs and bringing in more than $12 billion to the state’s economy.
Ag Day developed its modern format with the work of a team within the College of Agricultural Sciences. Jean Lamm, former director of development for the college, and the late Bill Thomas, then associate dean, saw potential. Why not rope in more state commodity groups, promote Colorado agriculture to the public, and raise money for student scholarships at the same time? The late Agricultural Dean Donal Johnson agreed. It would be a day of food, football and fun.
Ag Day debuted in 1982 with 10 commodity groups. About 300 Rams fans and aggies perched on straw bales at under the Aggie “A” at Hughes Stadium to enjoy the Colorado-grown fare. The event supplied one scholarship. “It was going to be educational and fun and really good food to promote Colorado agriculture to the community. We proclaimed the motto, ‘food, football and fun’ from that first year,” said Lamm. “A lot of the original aspects of the event are still there, but it’s become a huge event. It’s fabulous.”
Fast-forward 34 years: Twenty commodity groups serve the Ag Day feast of fresh, Colorado-grown food. Beef remains on the menu – joined by lamb, pork, beans, potatoes, onions, wheat and dairy products, green salad, watermelon, and more.
The event has provided significant scholarship support. Since 2000 alone, Ag Day has funded more than 188 scholarships totaling more than $350,000 for agricultural students, records show.
“My family is a middle-class family and has found it difficult to support my education to reach my lifelong goals, which is why I am deeply grateful for the gift that helps students like me reach their goals in agriculture,” former student Kaitlin Wright, who majored in animal science and equine science, wrote in a scholarship thank-you note.
The event maintains its aggie appeal: Fans still sit on straw bales, and it’s still a day of food, football and fun.