Red, White and BBQ

The simple initials B, B and Q mean nothing individually, but, when joined together, magic happens. Taste buds start salivating, nose hairs do a little dance at the smell of wood burning and the tickle of smoke, and the stickiness of a tantalizing sauce is felt on one’s fingertips.

Something about summer and the blistering temperatures told us we needed more BBQ in our lives. And, when it comes to food, we don’t need much convincing.

So, off to taste test Phoenix’s BBQ joints we go!

First stop: Little Miss BBQ.


Little Miss BBQ is a little like a trip to Disneyland. It requires a little planning but the experience is worth it and you’ll leave with a smile. They open at 11:00am but BBQ lovers start lining up by 10:00am to ensure a plate of food and a parking spot because once they’re out – they’re out. We arrived at 10:10 and, due to the 110+ degree weather, were handed tickets to hold our place in line, two cold bottles of water, and we were able to wait in our air-conditioned car until a few minutes before opening time.

7 & 8 in line. Cold water and misters to keep us comfortable.

Then the angels sang and the door opened and we stepped into a BBQ lover’s heaven: menu handwritten on butcher paper, smoked meats sold by the pound, savory sides, and a meat cutter handing out burnt ends {drool}.


We got lucky and happened to visit on pastrami day (Thursday). We ordered the fatty brisket and pastrami (because beef, of course) but y’all (we were from the South as soon as the brisket touched our lips), EVERYTHING is delicious. Go all the way and also get a smoked pecan pie.


We could rave on and on, but we’ll let this video of “cutting” the brisket with a fork speak for itself:

Cheers, Lauren and Tiffany

Ranchin’ and Rodeoin’: The Tale of the Parsons Fathers

Arizona beef truly is raised by families, for families; and, Father’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to showcase a family of strong men who not only make major contributions to the beef community and the sport of rodeo but also portray the traits of an outstanding father. If you’ve heard of Marana Stockyards, you’ve probably heard of the Parsons.

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Clay Parsons with his wife Karen, son Clay Buck, and daughters Mallory, Carly, and Haley.

Clay Parsons was born in 1961 in Carlsbad, New Mexico to Charlie Parsons and Cookie Paddock, and this is where their strong father-son relationship began. At three years of age, Clay began riding horses and helping on their small ranch (well, at least he thought he was helping, you know how helpful most three-year-olds are, much less when on horseback). He fell in love with the lifestyle and for the remainder of his childhood he continued working on family ranches in New Mexico, and later in Arizona.

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The Parsons have always been passionate about passing down the cowboy way of life and giving opportunities to younger generations.

At the age of five, Clay’s rodeo career began. His father, who rode broncs, introduced him to the rodeo world, and Clay tried everything! He learned how to rope in New Mexico, where he grew up around cowboys who quickly became his role models. Clay shared, “They had the greatest influence on me. They were real cowboys. I did not want to just be a rodeo cowboy, I wanted to ranch AND rodeo.”

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As most young cowboys do, Clay followed in his father’s footsteps and for a little while tried his hand at rodeo rough stock.

Throughout his life, Clay had a strong love for cattle. Whenever he was driving around with his father or anyone else, he was always looking over the fence line at cows, studying them and calling out the breeds. “My room was full of pictures of cows. Not rodeo champions, but cows. I just loved cows,” recalled Clay. He was overjoyed when, at seven years old, his father bought a small ranch in Oracle, AZ. Money was sparse at the time so they would buy roping heifers then later turn them out on the ranch, building a small herd. Clay remembers when their random assortment of roping heifers finally reached maturity and was ready for a bull: “Dad and I went to Wentz Livestock Auction in Tucson, and we bought a bull.”

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Years later, the Parsons still love to be out on a ranch. Without it, Clay knows something is missing in his life.

Clay would walk home from school, either on foot or by horseback, as often his horse was tied up outside the school waiting, and then go check all the cows. “I checked those cows every day except on the weekends when I was rodeoing,” explained Clay. This is where the story hits his favorite memory with his father: “I was nine-years-old and two-thirds of those cows had calved. We had family and friends at our place to help gather the herd and brand. As we were bringing in the herd, I said ‘Dad, we’re missing three.’ Dad said not to worry about them. We would take care of them later. As soon as he went over the ridge, I went back for them.” Clay remembers everyone wondering where he had disappeared to with the answer to the question arising as he came up over the ridge with the three missing pairs. He was scolded at first but then brought to the side where he heard the words he’ll never forget, “Son, good job. You’re gonna be a cowman.”

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It’s no wonder they have a love for their lifestyle, Clay Buck and all the Parsons grew up in the saddle.

Although there were years when Clay and Charlie did not have a ranch of their own, the Parsons continued to be a strong father/son name in the cattle world. Clay married the beautiful love of his life, Karen, at eighteen, who quickly jumped right into the lifestyle. Later, there was no ranch for Clay to run and he worked for his father’s business, Parsons Steel Builders. He hated it, and went out on the road to rodeo, with a dream of making it to the National Finals Rodeo. He recalls being in Livermore, California at a rodeo where he sat in the top fifteen for calf roping and was almost there for team roping. His dad called Clay asking him if he wanted to lease and run a ranch and Clay’s response was a simple, “I’ll be there in 14 hours.”

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Clay continues to pay tribute to the New Mexico ropers who were his role models by being a role model of many young ropers today.

Today, the love for cattle and ranching stays strong in the Parsons family. They built Marana Stockyards after many years of learning and hard work, and still, raise cattle on a ranch near Picacho Peak. If you’re ever around Marana, or at a big rodeo, you’ll most likely see Clay or maybe his father Charlie. If you’re out on their ranch during branding season, you’ll see his brothers Joe and Cutter along with other members of the Parsons family. Maybe at the stockyard you’ll find one of Clay and Karen’s lovely daughters (who all showed cattle as youth). Carly, who helps during the cattle sale, or his son, Clay Buck, who keeps the place running. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glance of Clay’s grandson Cooper, who sometimes helps call out pen numbers to the riders out back putting the sold cattle back in the correct pens (don’t worry buyers, Carly makes sure the pen backers know where to put your cattle).

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Cooper loves cattle as much as Clay, but he sure loves Grandpa even more!

We start with a father like Charlie, who had a strong influence on his son’s self-sufficiency and taught him to not only do what he loved but also to do it successfully. Next, we move to a father like Clay, who never runs out of words to express his pride and love for his hard-working son, a genuine man who everyone loves and respects, or his beautiful daughters. Finally, we end with a little grandson, Cooper, who never ceases to bring a smile to Clay’s face and attributes to why the Parsons men are so dedicated. Clay says, “I see Cooper liking the same things we like and I want the next generation to get to grow up the way we did.” These men exemplify what it means to be a father. Clay kindly advised, “There are some things you won’t understand until you have a grandson.” Well, Clay, there are some things the world only understands when they look at generations of amazing ranchin’ and rodeoin’ fathers like the Parsons.

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Since day one, Clay and Charlie have been an inspiring father/son team.

Blog post by Nicole Van Eerd, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Intern.

Father’s Day Favorites Features… BEEF!

Father’s Day is fast-approaching, and what better way to appreciate the role of a father than by preparing him a hearty, home-cooked beef dinner. While it does not have to be Father’s Day, nor do you have to be a father to eat beef, a day like this calls for special attention to this beloved red meat. We asked some local ranch dads what their favorite beef meals are as they should know how to best prepare a hearty, tasty beef meal after spending all day out on the range!

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Bas Aja with his grandson.

“A thick and juicy RIBEYE,” stated Dan Bell who picked the cream of the crop while many others attested to its supremacy as their favorite meal. “Do you need any time to think?” “Nope! Ribeye on mesquite, with salt and pepper. Garlic salt” was the rapid reply of Bas Aja, Executive Vice President of the Arizona Cattle Feeders’ Association and a rancher in Southwestern Maricopa County. Dean Fish agreed, also specifying over mesquite. Maybe we need to check this one out in the office!

Dan Bell and family all dressed up at the annual Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association convention.

Of course, all beef is great and some fathers had a little harder of a time settling on one beef dinner. Jim Webb of the Scottsdale, AZ answered, “Anything that comes with beef is good. If I had to pick one, it would be a steak dinner. Steak with potatoes. No vegetables…well, maybe asparagus.” Out on the V Bar V Ranch in Rimrock, AZ, Bopper Cannon gave a vote to the rib steak. His son, Keith Cannon, who is also a dad, was raised right with good beef cooking and wasn’t even willing to specify a cut, “Anything!”

Dean Fish with his son, Garrett, and daughter, Laurel, receiving his president’s buckle from the Arizona National Livestock Show.

Wes Kerr from the Kerr Dairy in Buckeye, AZ followed suit in loving all cuts of beef, but managed to narrow it down while proving to be a fan of his mother’s cooking by saying, “Ooooh I like it all!! Hmmmmm, well my mom makes THE BEST meatloaf.” And in case you’re reading this Wes, we’re expecting an invite over for dinner to prove this true!

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Wes Kerr and family at their family dairy, Kerr Dairy.

Some other popular favorites include grilled tri-tip, volunteered by Patrick Bray, rancher from Goodyear, AZ and a vote for grilled brisket from Joe King of Green Valley, AZ, who also informed us, “We are actually having that for our dinner on Sunday [Father’s Day]”.

Joe, Sarah, and Evelyn King.

With ground beef, steaks, ribs, roasts, and more, there are endless combinations for delicious and nutritious beef meals that fit you and your family. Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner can help you plan your next meal. The Interactive Butcher Counter allows you to explore the different meat cuts while providing information on how to cook those cuts, the nutrition facts, and some tasty recipes.

A great example of an Arizona ranching family: proud of each other and proud of their beef! Pictured are the Aja and Bray families.

Every dad enjoys a delicious home cooked meal, and what better dinner foundation than beef, packed with powerful protein and 10 essential nutrients? After reading some favorites from fathers out in the beef community, we hope you gain some inspiration and enjoy beef as much as they do! From Arizona Beef to all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!

Blog post by Nicole Van Eerd and Shayla Hyde, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Interns.

2017 Summer Agriculture Institute


Another successful week is coming to a close for the Summer Ag Institute. Every year, the University of Arizona Maricopa County Extension Office, along with other representative organizations including the Arizona Beef Council, plan a weeklong agriculture tour for kindergarten to high school level teachers from all over Arizona. Teachers fill out applications, and thirty are selected each year as participants of the tour to learn about the Arizona agriculture community surrounding them. This knowledge is then passed on to students within their classrooms.

The 2017 Summer Agriculture Institute participants in an alfalfa field at the Maricopa Ag Center.

This year, teachers experienced a variety of agriculture community aspects including the Arabian horse wonder known as Los Cedros USA, the University of Arizona Maricopa Agriculture Center and its research, various crop farms, and livestock ranches. They ended the week by splitting into small groups and spending a few hours enjoying a genuine, hands-on experience of everyday farm life with local farm families, followed by an intensive workshop on incorporating what they have learned about agriculture into their curriculum.

The tour was also a beneficial representation of the Arizona beef community. On Tuesday, the teachers visited the Groseta W Dart Ranch where they learned about raising cattle and how ranching intertwines with the economy and environment. Andy Groseta explained to teachers, “We are the only nation on the face of the earth where you can go to any store on a Monday and ask for any food you want in any quantity and get it by Friday. The only thing stopping you is your pocketbook. We are very efficient at what we do, and that was not an overnight thing; it started in 1776.” As he discussed ranch activities, his fifth-generation family ranch tradition, and his love for the land and his cattle, teachers gained insight on this piece of the beef community. Tracey Dodrill from Cocopah Middle School told us this stop was her favorite, “I loved meeting the Groseta family and learning that ranchers are people just like me. I want to be adopted into their family!” The ranch was a great transition into a delicious meal at Roux 66 and a discussion with the Diablo Trust which further highlighted the beef community’s dedication as environmentalists to raise healthy beef while taking proper care of livestock and the environment while involving consumers.

Wednesday included a stop at Perkinsville Meat Processing, followed by Thursday’s tour of Heiden Land & Cattle and Triple G Dairy. At Heiden Land & Cattle, Paul Heiden took the teachers on the next step in the beef raising journey by giving a tour of his feedlot.  He explained how they raised Holstein steers with a carefully calculated diet, and answered questions about cattle feed, the beef product, and animal welfare practices including Beef Quality Assurance procedures. “We care a lot about our cattle and what they are eating, and consult a nutritionist frequently. We don’t do what we do just for regulation; we do it for the wellness of our cattle,” Paul shared.

Paul Heiden educating teachers on the importance of the cattle’s diet and grain processing, comparing whole and steamed corn.

After stopping at the Triple G Dairy, teachers were able to add learning the differences between the Holstein and Jersey breeds, seeing the stages of each cow’s life from calf to milking cow, and witnessing firsthand the dairy’s state of the art technology including a milking carousel, to their list of experiences. One teacher, Suze Manci, commented: “I now understand why producers do what they do. They have a passion for feeding you, and they have to be able to do that.”

A Jersey calf at Triple G Dairy, definitely one of the teachers’ favorite stops.

Members of the beef community were given the opportunity to showcase their family business, explaining how they raise their animals and add to their unique piece of beef’s gate to plate journey while answering teachers’ questions.

Jeremy Krones from the Diablo Trust explaining the non-profit organization created to promote social, biological, and economic sustainability in the ranching community.

Overall, the 2017 Summer Agriculture Institute allowed teachers to connect again, or for the first time, with the true source of their food, fiber, and fuel. Furthermore, the teachers gained skills on how to incorporate these concepts into their K-12 classrooms so that future generations even further removed from agriculture still understand the gate to plate journey and how everyone is touched by agriculture every day.

Andy Groseta welcoming the teachers onto his ranch and explaining how ranchers, and those who live off the land, are true environmentalists.

“I’m finding a lot of new ways to incorporate what I’ve learned about agriculture into my 7th-grade science unit.”

“I had a meat science minor in college, and it’s great to be able to go back to feedlots and places I have been before.”

“I teach middle school math and have started an agriculture elective in the afternoon to try and start an FFA program early on. It’s the nature of Duncan [Arizona], and I want to go back to that.”

These are just a few of the endless quotes from excited, and, at the end of the week, very tired teachers who enjoyed this year’s agriculture institute, and we are thankful to be involved another year helping ensure the connection between the agriculture community in the field to those in grocery stores and around the table.

Two Angus cross cattle on the W Dart Ranch.










Blog Post by Nicole Van Eerd, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Intern.

Meet an Arizona FFA Member: Kailee Zimmerman

Kailee and her steer at the 2017 Maricopa County Fair auction.

Having the opportunity to serve as the Arizona Junior Beef Ambassador has been an absolute thrill and privilege!  I really do heart beef!!  My family ranched in southern Arizona in a small settlement called Klondyke when Arizona was still a territory. This is in the Aravaipa Canyon near the Graham Mountains, which is about an hour outside of Safford.  My great grandpa Neuel Weathersby started the family tradition of raising polled Herefords.  Though my grandparents sold the 7K Bar Ranch, they moved north and ran cattle on other ranches throughout the state.  I am so thankful to have been raised understanding the legacy of these amazing cattlemen as well as the example of my parents who are so very passionate about American agriculture.  It is from them that I get my love for Herefords and passion for the beef industry as a whole.  I have enjoyed carrying on their legacy by raising cattle of my own and being a member of the Arizona Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo Association.  I recently bred my first heifer this year, and I am so excited to start my own herd with her offspring as well as my younger cattle.

Kailee and family with her Reserve Supreme Champion Female at the 2017 Maricopa County Fair.

My family has been heavily involved in FFA for years. My dad, aunt, and uncle have served as state officers. My dad also was an ag teacher when I was little, and my friends and family members have grown because of the amazing leadership skills acquired through being an FFA member.  I wanted to have this opportunity so badly! However, I have attended a small charter school, that I love, since fifth grade, but it did not have an FFA program.  Thanks to my incredible parents and headmaster, we were able to get a chapter chartered! Being a member of Trivium FFA has been such an incredible blessing, not only for me but also for those in my chapter.  Many people today are so far removed from where their food comes from and, even more so, from the incredible people who raise and grow it.  Being a member of FFA has been yet another venue for me to share truths about the industry and community that I am so passionate about and proud to be a part of.  I know that the skills and experiences I gain through the FFA are invaluable – from public speaking to budgeting, and from leadership skills to learning how to work as a team.  I know that I will often turn back to these skills throughout my life to help me, and I will look back fondly at all the memories made with members of my chapter and the Arizona FFA Association.

The blue jacket! FFA is known for the blue corduroy jacket members are required to wear at official events.

I am elated to be able to attend my very first State Leadership Conference as an FFA member this week.  Though I have had the privilege of attending a few sessions before, the feeling of sitting amongst the “sea of blue jackets” is indescribable.  It has been incredible to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.  At the opening session of the conference, Trivium FFA will be recognized as a newly chartered chapter, and it will symbolize the culmination of hard work and perseverance of so many people.  How grateful I am for them.  Because of their efforts, the members of Trivium FFA, as well as myself, can have a wealth of true knowledge and countless opportunities to learn and grow.

Trivium FFA at their first Midwinter State Conference. The group participated in Ag Sales, Food Science, Wildlife, and Floriculture contests with Kailee placing in the top ten individuals for Ag Sales and the entire Ag Sales team placing fourth.

Happy State Leadership Conference week to all!  I hope it is filled with tons of laughs and memories made!  May your herds be healthy and let’s all pray for rain!

Kailee Zimmerman
Arizona Jr. Beef Ambassador

Founding members of the Trivium FFA Chapter attending their first Career Developement Event.