Since 1987, a total of 99 farms have been awarded century farm status at the Becker County Fair.
Saturday, at the 126th Becker County Fair, the 100th family farm was added to that list: The Dennis and Linda Dovre farm in rural Detroit Lakes.
A century farm is one that has been in continuous ownership by a single family for 100 years or more.
The Dovre property, about 5 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes, near Little Floyd Lake, was originally registered and homestead rights were granted to George W. Burrows on Jan. 5 , 1875 by the U.S. General Land Office.
After the property was transferred to a number of other owners, the property was sold by Ole Olson to Knute N. Dovre on May 22, 1919.
Knute, who was Dennis Dovre's grandfather, came to the United States from Norway as a teenager.
"He (Knute) had relatives in southern Minnesota, in the Marshall area, so he settled there for a time," Dovre said. "He had a farm that he later sold and moved out to North Dakota."
His grandfather was 40 years old when he moved his family to northwest Minnesota, Dovre said.
"He bought this site because of the lake, and the school house that was within short walking distance," Dovre said. He, his siblings and his father all attended that school, the District 115, or Little Floyd Lake School, up through sixth grade.
"My dad went through eighth grade, and I finished sixth grade there," Dovre said. Though the school still stands to this day, it has fallen into disrepair.
Dovre said his grandfather "wanted his children to grow up in the country."
Knute and Mathilda Dovre raised three sons, Erling, Clifford and Conrad (Dennis's father), along with one daughter, Theresa, on their rural Detroit Lakes farm, which encompassed approximately 105 acres. (Today it is slightly smaller, at about 85 acres, Dennis said, as some small parts of the property were sold over the years.) During the early years, they farmed with horses.
Mathilda Dovre sold the farm to her son Conrad and his wife, Alice on Dec. 16, 1963. They milked cows and grew hay and corn for silage to feed their livestock. Conrad and Alice had four children: daughter Sharon, and sons Dennis, Donald and Douglas.
After graduating from Detroit Lakes High School, Dennis served in the U.S. Navy; it was during this time that he met his future wife, Linda. They got married while he was still in the service, and lived for a time in South Carolina and Washington state. After Dennis' discharge, he went to work for Boeing Aircraft in Seattle.
But he always longed to return to work on the family farm, Dennis said, and in 1974, he got his wish, when the family moved back to Minnesota and Dennis started renting the farm from his parents.
The couple purchased the farm on Feb. 9, 1979, and it was there that they raised their children, Brent and Tonya, who were 8 and 4, respectively, when Dennis and Linda first made the move from Seattle.
The Dovres had dairy cattle on the farm and sold grade A milk until 1997, when they switched to raising replacement heifers for another dairy farm. After five years of doing that, they started a bull calf-steer operation for a few years before eventually raising replacements for BGR Dairy, near Lake Park.
Dennis retired from dairy farming at age 70, in 2015 — but after a year he went back to work part-time for BGR at their operation, where he continues to work to this day. He also farms his land, raising alfalfa hay and wheat as a cash crop.
"He's always busy," Linda said, but added that he is sometimes done with farm work by 10:30 in the morning, "which is nice."
Though Dennis is proud of his family's century farm accomplishment, he said, his wife Linda was the one who was really interested in pursuing it.
"I've lived on this farm over half my life — 44 years," she said.
Dennis interjected that he had lived and worked there for 63 years, all told.
"We've been married 54 years," Linda added. "Overall, this has been a good place to raise our kids — it's a beautiful spot."
More farm awards
Several other ag-related awards were presented Saturday evening at the Becker County Fair.
Pete and Louise Jacobson, Audubon, and Auroch's Veterinary Service, Audubon, were presented with the 2019 Fair Builder Awards. The Fair Builder Awards recognize fair supporters, whether they be a business, family, or individual, for significant contributions to the Becker County Fair, past and present.
The 2019 Valley Farmer & Homemaker Award for Becker County was presented to Tom and Jill Mickelson of Frazee. Sponsored by the Red River Valley Development Association, this award is presented each year to individuals who live in the association's participating counties — Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington and Polk.
Audubon residents Andrew and Debbie Osten were honored for their work with the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program this past year. The program's stated purpose is "to create and sustain a network of community leaders in northwest and west central Minnesota, focusing on agricultural and natural resource issues," with a goal "to provide opportunities for individuals to develop their leadership potential and a structure to bring together leaders of the region to address rural issues." Next year's RRV Emerging Leaders for Becker County, Gary and Missy Peterson, were unable to attend Saturday's festivities.
Also at Saturday’s awards program, Shawn and Dawn Eckert of Frazee were honored as the 2019 recipients of the North Dakota State University Harvest Bowl Agriculturist Award for Becker County. The Harvest Bowl program annually recognizes success, dedication, and hard work of outstanding agriculturists in 53 counties in North Dakota and 10 counties in western Minnesota. This year's Harvest Bowl festivities will be Oct. 23-24 in Fargo.
Corbey and Melissa Mattson of rural Lake Park were honored as the University of Minnesota's 2019 Farm Family of the Year for Becker County. The Mattson farm is now operated by the grandson and great-grandsons of the original family members that started the farm in the early 1900s. Steve and Sandy Mattson and their sons raise corn, wheat, soybeans and sugar beets north of Lake Park. They also do some dirt work, welding and fabricating and equipment maintenance. Corbey is one of Steve and Sandy’s sons.; he and Melissa have six children — Thea, Elaina, Flynn, Alexandra, Colt and Bjorn.