In recognition of 20 years of support and sponsorship of the International Finals Youth Rodeo, the Shawnee Milling Company and the Ford family were honored Thursday night at the expo center.
Shawnee Milling Co. also sponsored Thursday night’s rodeo performances, so it was fitting that the recognition came on the same night.
Several spoke at a reception held before the evening performances, where the Ford family received a standing ovation.
Marty Lewis, representing the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, spoke about a book outlining the 100-plus years of mill history and said the Ford family has made a “tremendous impact” on Shawnee and the entire region.
He recognized their graciousness and giving and said over the years, Shawnee Milling and the Ford family have helped build the Shawnee community.
“We truly appreciate how much you do for this community,” Lewis said.
Outgoing House Speaker Kris Steele also thanked members of the Ford family for helping shape Shawnee and read a citation issued by the House of Representatives and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in honor of Shawnee Milling Co. and the Ford family’s support of the IFYR for the past 20 years.
Steele called the milling operation the “cornerstone” of the community and the state for more than a century.
Bill and Joe Ford accepted the citation.
“I want to thank you all — it’s an honor for us to be here and an honor to serve the community,” Bill Ford said, adding he admires so many of the people who are involved in the rodeo.
Ford, who said it’s a team effort that makes the mill a success, said there’s not a day that goes by that they’re not trying to improve what they do.
“We’re 106 years young and our vision of the future is another 106 years,” he said, and that future also includes supporting the community.
“Service in the name of the game,” Bill Ford said, pledging their part to continue to be good citizens.
Mike Jackson, operations manager at the expo, said he appreciates Shawnee Milling for its support of the IFYR, as well as other expo events, including the fair and livestock shows.
A lifelong Shawnee resident, Jackson said one of his fondest memories was touring the mill while a student at South Rock Creek.
Local farmer Karl Kozel spoke about his long relationship with the mill and the family.
“I started hauling wheat there in 1946 and have been hauling ever since,” he said, calling the mill and the Ford family an “asset to our community.”
Page 2 of 2 - “We appreciate you,” Kozel added.