Bill and Peggy Metz chosen as Stampede Parade Saturday Grand Marshals
MONTE VISTA — Bill and Peggy Metz will be the Grand Marshals of the Ski-Hi Stampede Parade on Saturday. The Ski-Hi Stampede Parade Committee was looking for a way to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Ski-Hi Stampede and thought the best way to do it was to honor the long-standing farming families of the area. The Metz were the perfect choice as the farm has been in the family for more than 100 years.
Bill and Peggy Metz obviously have deep roots in the San Luis Valley and have been integral contributors to the Ski-Hi Stampede over the years.
Peggy (Wilcox) Metz was born in 1945 in Elk City, OK to Toney and Wilma (Jansson) Wilcox, and has one sister, Sue Davis of Monte Vista. The family moved to Guymon, Okla., where Peggy's father farmed wheat in the Texas Panhandle and her mother was a homemaker. The family moved to Monte Vista the summer before Peggy started fifth grade, where Toney bought a farm on the 4 Mile Road to raise potatoes and sheep. Peggy began attending Sargent Elementary School where she met her future husband, Bill Metz.
Kenneth William (Bill) Metz, son of Kenneth Gordon and Virginia (Bond) Metz, was born in 1945 in Del Norte. He has two brothers, Bob and Jere, who both still reside in Monte Vista with their wives. Bill's family's farming roots go back to 1917 when Bill's grandparents, Ray and Mabel (Berg) Metz purchased their home quarter on the 6 Mile Road north of Monte Vista in the Sargent Community. They built their home on the corner of that quarter in 1927, and it remains an active residence today. Ray and Mable had two children, Kenneth Gordon (Bill's father) and Mary. Ray later expanded their farming operation, purchasing and farming two more quarters also located on the 6 Mile Road, and leasing an additional quarter west of their home. In addition to raising sheep and farming barley, alfalfa, and potatoes, Ray built and operated a potato warehouse packing shed. This structure was unique and innovative for the times — the Metz Potato storehouse was one of the first refrigerated potato storages in the San Luis Valley!
Ray's Metz Potato storehouse applied for and was granted on May 23, 1939, the Patented Trademark "Colorado Top Quality Potatoes, Grown A-Top the World" logo and spinning top symbol, which are still used today on Metz Potato Company potato packaging.
While in high school, Bill and Peggy participated in various sports, clubs, and activities and became high school sweethearts. They both graduated from Sargent High School in 1963 and both chose to continue their education at Fort Lewis College in Durango. She graduated in 1966 with a Business Education degree, and he graduated in 1967 with a Business degree and played basketball during his college years. Peggy taught high school business in Pagosa Springs while Bill was finishing his college education. They married in June of 1968 at the Sargent Community Church. Soon after, Bill joined the Army. While in the Army, Bill was stationed in Petersburg, Va., Korea, and Colorado Springs. While Bill was serving our country, Peggy lived in Colorado Springs where she was employed as a bookkeeper for a nursing home company. In 1971, Bill's time in the Army was up, and his roots in farming brought them back home to the Valley and the family farm. They established a home on the 6 Mile Road and had two children, Tonya Rae and Kenneth Gregory (Greg).
Bill's dad, Kenneth, and Bill strived to continue to produce "Top Quality" potatoes along with barley mainly contracted to Adolf Coors Brewing Company. Bill and Peggy purchased a quarter of land in 1972 and established Bond Metz Farms, Inc. with the assistance of his uncle, Jack Bond. Improvements to now Metz Potato Company were made over time, as well. In time, Bill also purchased the original quarter of land from his grandfather, Ray Metz, and inherited two quarters from his father, which now totals the 640 acres Bill and Peggy still farm today; doubling the size of the original 1917 farm.
Unfortunately, on April 16, 1986, a devasting fire destroyed the entire warehouse, all processing and packaging equipment, storage buildings, trucks, and a portion of the potato crop. Despite the complete loss, Bill and Peggy's dream and determination to continue the legacy of Metz Potato Company lived on. A new packing shed, storage facility, two storage quonsets, and processing equipment were constructed, purchased, and completed in time to store and process the fall crop that same year!
Over the years, Bill worked hard alongside his father to tend the crops and run the warehouse and Peggy assisted Bill with farming chores, farm bookkeeping, raising their children, and staying involved with their school activities. Bill enjoyed taking Tonya and Greg on the tractor and teaching them about farming; how to run equipment, and care for the land. He taught them how to ski and his love of sports rubbed off on them. Bill loved officiating football and basketball. His basketball official career began while he was serving in the Army and continued for 50-plus years and included many college-level games and high school
state championship games. He was inducted into the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO) Hall of Fame in 2014 and was recognized in 2021 by IAABO 50-year Contributor to the Sport of Basketball. Bill also contributed to his community, just as his father and grandfather did, by serving on the Sargent School Board of Education for 14 years.
In 1987, Peggy began working at Sargent High School as the High School
Secretary where she stayed until 1996. In addition to her responsibilities at the school, she continued to assist Bill with farm bookkeeping, and contribute to her community by serving on the Monte Vista Carnegie Library Board and Rio Grande Library Board. She served on the Stampede Parade Committee for many, many years, retiring after the 99th Ski-Hi Stampede so she could enjoy the 100th Year Celebration as a spectator!
Since 1986, Metz Potato Company and Bond Metz Farms have continued to thrive. Bill and Peggy's son, Greg, is continuing the farming tradition by working alongside Bill in Metz Potato Company, making Greg a fourth-generation "grower-shipper" and continuing Ray's legacy. Bond Metz Farms produces 160 acres each of potatoes and barley every year. Metz Potato Company processes and packages approximately 850,000 cwt. of potatoes each year, processing not only Bill's and Greg's crops but crops of other area growers.
At the Colorado State Fair in 2018, Bill and Peggy were deeply honored as Bond Metz Farms, Inc. was recognized by History Colorado: Colorado Department of Agriculture as a "Centennial Farm/Ranch," a farm or ranch that the same family owns for more than 100 years.
Today, Peggy continues to be involved in farm operations with bookkeeping. Bill can be found still driving a tractor in the fields and running a forklift in the warehouse. His passion for basketball is still evident, as he works for Colorado High School Activities Association as a Basketball Official Evaluator. They enjoy following the sports and activities their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are involved in, spending time at their cabin, and traveling with friends and family.