STERLING, Colo. -- Sterling Livestock Exchange is bringing back the annual "Meat-In at Sterling Livestock."

The event traces its history to a protest of sorts when Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called for a "Meat-Out Day." The day encouraged everyone to not eat meat on that particular day.

"Two years ago, our Gov. Polis declared March 20 Meat Out Day; don't eat meat on that day," said Jason Santomaso, owner/manger of Sterling Livestock Commission. "It didn't set well with us so we decided to have a free hamburger feed and benefit auction."

Santomaso said the event served about 2,400 people the first year and raised about $130,000 with the auction. Proceeds rose to about $164,000 in 2022, although the number of participants decreased modestly.

"We're hoping to keep growing this year," he said.

The hamburger feed is offered free, with a free-will donation and an auction of donated goods. Proceeds from the auction and meal go to charities and local causes. Santomaso said they have supported Angels of America's Fallen, and the Miracle Letter Program in addition to local causes.

The mission of Angels of America's Fallen is to "encourage and fund healthy positive activities for the children of fallen firefighters, military, and law enforcement," according to the organization's website. The Miracle Letter Program, of Logan County, describes itself as "neighbors helping neighbors" in Logan County, Colo.

In addition, proceeds from the event supports scholarships for students who are agriculture-related programs. The event results in six scholarships for students. Santomaso said last year 17 students applied for scholarships.

For more information or to donate to the event, call Jason Santomaso at 1-970-520-3049.