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The cowboy spirit takes hold at ND Cowboy Hall of Fame induction

MEDORA--A white tent set up in the middle of Chimney Park held 300 chairs, most of which were taken. The tent was overflowing with people who came to listen to the 21st annual North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The inductees wer...

From left to right, Miss Rodeo North Dakota Megan Haag, Legacy Award winner Phil Baird, and NDCHF President Jim Chamley. (Press Photo by Mary Shown)
From left to right, Miss Rodeo North Dakota Megan Haag, Legacy Award winner Phil Baird, and NDCHF President Jim Chamley. (Press Photo by Mary Shown)

MEDORA-A white tent set up in the middle of Chimney Park held 300 chairs, most of which were taken.

The tent was overflowing with people who came to listen to the 21st annual North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The inductees were Arthur Jeffries, Joseph Schaff, the Kennedy Ranch, Joe Berger, Brad Brettin's No. 18 War Paint, Audrey Hall-Davy, Kenneth Krueger, Dale Greenwood, Monty Carson and Ed Sundby.

"I'd say I've been at it (prepping for the ceremony) for about full time for three weeks," said Jim Chamley, the hall's president. "We planned for 300 today and we ran out of chairs, I bet we had 350 at least. Just being sure of the little things, make sure the tent is up and know everyone's name and that you can pronounce it, just a lot of those things, but it is a lot of fun. This is what it is all about, it's very rewarding."

One thing everyone in the jury-rigged tent could pride themselves on was the cowboy spirit. Keynote speaker David Allen, the president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Association, touched on that concept.

"Today we celebrate the inductees and what they have accomplished," he said. "But on another level we celebrate the cowboy, the cowboy heritage, the cowboy culture and the cowboy way of life and what that means. Rodeo and ranching are the living example of the American western culture. It is the gateway to who we are and where we came from. And again, that is why things like this are so important."

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Inductees are nominated by friends or family members. Categories of what they may be inducted into rotate from year to year, but once their year has come, it is up to the families to initiate the process. They must submit a biography, and from there the board of directors narrow the choices. Once the board of the directors have chosen a finalist field of nominees, they send it off to the organization's trustee's, who ultimately decide and vote. By Memorial Day, the inductees are named.

"A lot of it is based on their experience and how great they are," board member Dick Nelson said. "There are some great cowboys and cowgirls in there. We read all of the biographies and decide who would be the best to come in at this time."

As inductees were introduced, their stories were told and many times, laughter and tears were mixed together.

One particular inductee, Joseph Schaff, had a large crowd of supporters. His introducer asked if anyone were a friend or family member of the Schaff family, to stand up. Nearly half of the tent stood.

Schaff was inducted under the Modern Era Ranching category and is known for his influence on cattle stock.

Another inductee was past Hall of Fame president Phil Baird. Baird served for 19 years and was given the Legacy Award for his influence on the organization as a whole. This award holds momentous worth because it is so rarely given out.

"It isn't about winning the Legacy, it's more about what it represents and the journey," he said. "I was there in the beginning and we saw a lot of great people come through and some of them are no longer with us, which is nostalgic, but people believe in a cause and if they're going to fight for the brand and be positive and making things work, then anything can happen."

Preserving the history of the North Dakota cowboy, recognizing those who have been influential, and passing that cowboy spirit on to future generations is what the organization stands for.

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"The native american, ranching and rodeo, all came together because of the horse," Baird said. "We cannot lose sight of that and when it's all said and done it's not how you die it's how you lived. So hopefully we are giving credit to those people because that is so important."

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