2006 Bruce Cottington Award
Bruce Cottington was the first recipient of the “First Annual Friend of MMPA Award” at the Midwest Dairy Expo on December 5 in St. Cloud, MN.
A true Dairy Enthusiast, Bruce has spent countless hours promoting agriculture, FFA, 4-H, and of course, Minnesota’s Dairy Industry. Born and raised on a dairy farm, Bruce understands our industry including the marketing and promotion of our wholesome and nutritious products to consumers. As a father of 3, he has taught his children that hardwork and dedication will take you far in life, just as they have for him.
Bruce spent 25 years in the grocery business as a field man and a store owner promoting the dairy case and agriculture. From his store, he would do daily radio broadcasts on KLFD Radio in Litchfield highlighting sale prices, community events plus light commentary to make the broadcasts more inviting and interesting to the listeners, all while promoting the value of dairy products.
To eliminate the winter blues in February, he started the Peanut Butter and Milk Festival in 1972. The festival helped to promote milk and peanut butter sandwiches since they went so well together, besides highlighting food production, agriculture youth, and rural America. Today, the festival continues with an exchange program twice a year between Litchfield, Minnesota and Hartford, Alabama – a sister city in the program.
In 1979, he sold his grocery store and went to work for the American Dairy Association of Minnesota, now the Midwest Dairy Association, as a field man promoting the Real Seal and working with the Check-Off program sponsored by Minnesota Dairy Farmers. Upon his retirement from the Dairy Association, he continued to work with and manage the State Fair malt stand located in the Empire Commons Building resulting in almost 20 years of service.
After his retirement from the Dairy Association, he decided to un-retire and continue to do what he does best – promote Minnesota’s Dairy Industry. He began working for Minnesota Milk as the Membership Coordinator allowing him to travel around the state and share with dairy producers the ideals and beliefs of Minnesota Milk while promoting and strengthening the industry that he truly loves. He has since retired from Minnesota Milk, but finds time in his busy schedule to support the activities of the organization such as the Dairy Day at the Capitol.
Believing that his local creamery is a true asset the community and the future of the dairy industry, often times you will find him buzzing through the First District Outlet Store checking on things, or handing out small gift certificates for 1 pound blocks of butter or cheese encouraging people to patronize the outlet store and the local dairy farmers. Taking it one step further, he does a twice weekly radio show on KLFD Radio called “Cheese Ball Corners” promoting items at the local outlet store, enlightening listeners with corny trivia and humor, discussing community events and highlighting agriculture in Meeker County besides interviewing the local dairy princesses.
As an active volunteer and leader in his community, he supports the Meeker County Dairy Association assisting with the malt stand at the county fair, encouraging and promoting the events of the organization, and serves as a dairy princess judge. It is easy to say where 2 or more are gathered in the name of dairy – Bruce is there!
At the age of 15, he enlisted in the Navy during World War 2 and also did a tour of duty in Korea. He served 8 years and earned 8 Battle Ribbons in the service of our country. On Memorial Day in 2004, he represented the Minnesota American Legion at the dedication the World War 2 Memorial in Washington D.C.
In 2005, Bruce was inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame. He has received the WCCO Radio Good Neighbor Award. And, he was also honored as a Hometown Hero by the Hutchinson radio station for his dedication to the community as a member of the Kiwanis, Shrine Club, and VFW.
And finally, in 2002, the Senate of the State of Minnesota thanked him for his lifelong service to his community, state, and country by a formal resolution on the floor of the Senate in his honor.
Even though he is retired, he continues to serve as the President of Cottington Foods, a private consulting firm for dairy promotion and public relations – “promoting dairy for 100 years” as he would say! It is easy to spot Bruce in a crowd at any dairy event sporting his Navy Blue FFA suspenders – again, a sign of his dedication to the promotion of agriculture and the dairy industry.