Sandhills of Nebraska is a vast area of grass covered sand dunes in West Central Nebraska. The Sandhills is home to cattle ranching and a large number of quality cattle. With ranching and cattle come horses and cowboys. Since the last half of the 1800’s, cowmen and cowboys have been drawn to and raised in the area.

The Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame did not come into existence until 2006, when Rodney Palmer, an Ainsworth, Nebraska Lawyer and Rancher, decided it was long overdue. The Tri-State Livestock News quoted Palmer in 2006 “Nebraska didn’t have a Cowboy Hall of Fame at the time so I called the North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas Halls of Fame to get some ideas. Our area ranchers and cowboys were not receiving the recognition and memorialization they deserved so I took it upon myself to get this started and incorporated it as a non-profit corporation.”

The initial Board of Directors was composed of hand picked, cowboy savvy people by Palmer from 14 Nebraska Sandhills counties. One director was chosen from each of the following counties: Holt, Rock, Keya Paha, Brown, Cherry, Loup, Garfield, Blaine, Thomas, Custer, Hooker, Grant, Arthur and Sheridan. The Board was expanded to 18 counties in 2008 with the addition of Lincoln County, Keith County, McPherson County and Logan County.

In 2012 the board was expanded to 20 counties to include Wheeler and Garden County.

Rod Palmer is the Executive Secretary. The present headquarters is in Ainsworth, Nebraska.

The First Board of Directors held their first meeting on July 15, 2006 at Ainsworth, Nebraska and chose 20 inductees into the Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Board meets at least annually to determine who should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The First Board of Directors consisted of the following:
Richard Caulfield - Keya Paha County
Ray Herrington - Rock County
Jack Robertson - Brown County
Junior Young - Holt County
John Lee - Cherry County
Glen Nutter - Thomas County
Walt Rhodes - Blaine County
Homer Buell - Loup County
Neal Keller - Custer County
Rich Boots - Hooker County
Larry Burgess - Grant County
Kirk Swanson - Arthur County
Bruce Plugge - Garfield County
Buck Buckles - Sheridan County
The Current Board of Directors Consists of:
Kirk Swanson - Arthur County
Walt Rhoades - Blaine County
Ken Smith - Brown County
A.B. Cox - Cherry County
Vern Oatman - Custer County
Loren Gosuch - Garden County
Dale Prickett - Garfield County
Larry Burgess - Grant County
Junior Young - Holt County
Rich Boots - Hooker County
Paul Cleveland - Keith County
Dick Caufield - Keya Paha County
Joe Nutter - Lincoln County
Vern Boeser - Logan County
Ronny Morgan - Loup County
Ron Sowders - McPherson County
Bill Herrington - Rock County
Buck Buckles - Sheridan County
Leon Gift - Thomas County
Dennis Derner - Wheeler County
Past Directors and their Counties include:
Jack Robertson - Brown County Director 2007-2009
Neal Keller - Custer County Director 2006-2007
Bruce Plugge - Garfield County Director 2006-2014
Bill O’Conner - Keith County Director 2008-2017
John Warren - Logan County Director 2008-2016
Ray Herrington - Rock County Director 2006-2013
Glen Nutter - Thomas County Director 2006-2007
The photos of all Hall of Fame inductees and biographies can be viewed at Ainsworth, Nebraska.

Nomination forms are available by contacting any Board Member or Rod Palmer at Box 127, Ainsworth, Nebraska or calling 402-387-2212. Nominees must be 50 years or older or deceased. The nominee must fit the following criteria:

“The Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame honor those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the Western Lifestyle or horse culture in the areas of competition, business, support of rodeo in the western lifestyle in the Sandhills of Nebraska, this includes rodeo, ranching, rodeo stock contractors, western arts, western entertainment and special achievement awards.”

Since its inception, 20 individuals were inducted in 2006, 11 in 2007, 10 in 2008, 6 in 2009, 5 in 2010, 8 in 2011, 7 in 2012,13 in 2013, 11 in 2014, 18 in 2015, 13 in 2017, 11 in 2018 and 11 in 2019. It is notable that 8 women have been inducted to date.

The website for the Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame is: www.SandhillsCowboys.com The address is 353 North Main, P.O. Box 127, Ainsworth, NE 69210.
For More Information Call 402-387-2212

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