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Vote for dairy farmer in Carhartt contest

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 03/03/2011 10:10 AM

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ELKO, Minn. — An Elko dairy farmer is a finalist in the "Are You Carhartt Tough?" contest.

Tim Zweber, 28, hopes to win one of two grand prizes in the contest. In order to do that, he needs people to go to and vote for him. People can vote as often as they like through the cutoff just before midnight Feb. 28.

Zweber wears Carhartt clothing because it's good quality. Carhartt seems to have the best quality zippers, buttons and material, he said. It's also warm. It seems to be that every dairy farmer wears Carhartts and there's a good reason for it, Zweber said.

Zweber is a partnership with his father, Jon, in Zweber Farms LLC. His mother, Lisa, and his wife, Emily, also work on the farm. They milk 110 cows, selling their milk to Organic Valley. They keep about 30 percent of their bull calves and also raise chickens and hogs. Beef, pork and chicken are marketed direct to consumers from the farm.

He and Emily are active in promoting agriculture through social media and spend a fair amount of time online. On a ridiculously cold day last winter, Emily wrote a little poem about Carhartt on their farm blog. She later posted the poem to the Carhartt facebook page. Since then, the couple have checked back to the page and that's where they learned about the "Are You Carhartt Tough?" contest.

Tim wrote an essay about dairy farming being tough and how his Carhartts are the right clothes for the job.

"We demand a lot of our equipment and of our clothes when caring for our cattle every day," he wrote. "It takes tough clothing to stand up to being worn every day of the year and Carhartt performs so I can."

He was driving the bobcat cleaning the heifer lot last fall when he received an email on his blackberry informing him that he was a finalist in the contest. As a bonus, he got a $500 gift certificate to spend at the Carhartt online store.

He used the gift certificate to buy Christmas gifts for family members, updating their Carhartt wardrobes with new coats, zip-up hoodies and coveralls.

Cintas Corporation launched the "Are You Carhartt Tough?" contest on Feb. 1, 2010, said Ashley Martin, a spokeswoman for Cintas Corporation. Each quarter, three finalists were selected from the hundreds of essays and photos submitted online. The top finalist each quarter received a $500 gift certificate, Martin said. However, all 12 finalists are now competing on an equal footing.

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from Cintas Corporation and Carhartt, Martin said.

The contest was created in conjunction with a new partnership between Carhartt and Cintas Corporation, she said. The two firms have partnered to offer Carhartt gear through uniform supplier Cintas. The new line is Carhartt Rental Workwear.

"This contest is really a reflection of our companies," said Chuck Helmes, director of garment strategy at Cintas Corporation, in a press release. "Both Carhartt and Cintas are known for providing tough products and dependable service, and we want to celebrate workers who reflect those same characteristics."

The public will now choose the contest winner through online voting. The top two vote-getters will receive a grand prize.

The person with the most votes gets to pick the grand prize first. The second runner-up gets the other prize, Martin said.

The two grand prizes are a weekend duck hunt trip designed by Ducks Unlimited or a trip for two to the Stihl Timbersports series.

If he wins, Tim said he'd take his grandfather, Boyd, on the duck hunting trip. He doesn't know who he'd take if he won the other grand prize.

He's read the other essays and says he has pretty stiff competition. There's a tow truck driver named Bubba, a skydiving firefighter and a lineman. There's also a hog farmer from Pennsylvania.

He tells everyone "vote for agriculture, vote for the two farmers." Tim suggests people bookmark the page and come back and vote every day.

As of last week, the lineman, the firefighter and the tow truck driver were the top three.

Tens of thousands of votes have been cast online. Martin said the winners will be announced March 1.