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Our hall is our history

(This column originally appeared in the Mar.30, 2012, issue of the ProRodeo Sports News magazine. To subscribe to the PSN, call 800.763.3648 or click here to sign up on line. Like the magazine on Facebook at facebook.com/prorodeosportsnews.)

This is an important time of year for the ProRodeo Hall of Fame as we announce our next class. I’d like to personally congratulate 2012 inductees Billy Etbauer, Robert Etbauer, Hal Littrell, Jon Taylor, the late Frank Schneider, bucking horse great Khadafy and the Dodge City (Kan.) Round-Up on the ultimate honor in our sport. Mark your calendars and make plans to be with us here at the Hall in Colorado Springs for the Cowboy Ball on July 13 and the Induction Ceremonies on July 14.

Thanks to gracious donors we’ve made some impressive improvements to the Hall in recent times. We’ve gone in and redone the lighting system, and the theater that broke down and went dark for years is now up and running again. We’ve increased the activity down at the Hall, and will this year have our third summer team roping series, sponsored by Cactus Ropes, Cactus Saddlery and Resistol, on Sundays down at Priefert Arena. Those ropings have created new interest from passersby on I-25. Seeing a cowboy event going on in our arena gets people to take another look not only at the Hall, but the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association headquarters as well.

Full-time hours start back up at the Hall on April 1, and the ideal location of the Hall and its beautiful gardens makes it an awesome setting for all kinds of events, including weddings, receptions, parties, conferences and meetings. We’re open for rentals, and that’s become one of our biggest revenue streams.

Due to a major construction project on I-25 that took a few years, we lost our Hall exit signs in 2006. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but our exit changed and the signs were just recently replaced by the Colorado Department of Transportation to direct people back to us. It’s made a big difference, and traffic is back up because it’s easier to find us again. In case you haven’t been by in awhile, we are now at exit 148.

We’re doing everything we can think of to strengthen and support the Hall, including working on the rigorous accreditation process with the American Association of Museums. Hall of fames and museums are hard-pressed to add to any organization’s bottom line. We continue to move forward and make smart financial decisions, not only to duly honor our inductees, but to spotlight and share our sport and its rich history with tourists and fans of professional rodeo.

In the words of ProRodeo Hall of Fame Stock Contractor Harry Vold, who’s one of only two stock contractors who’s had stock at every Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to date (Bob Barnes is the other), “This Hall is all we have. If there’s a monument for the cowboys it’s this Hall of Fame. Without it we haven’t got anything. It preserves all the heritage and stories there are to be told. Casey Tibbs, Bill Linderman, Jack Buschbom—all the great champions are enshrined in this Hall. And we’ve got more all-time record-holders coming on now. Our Hall is important to our history. I feel very strongly that it’s in the right place and we’re doing everything we can to keep it up.”

Larry Mahan is one of the most legendary all-around cowboys of all time, and was a member of the Hall’s inaugural Class of 1979. “To me, knowledge is the base for everything,” Mahan said. “The Hall educates people as to who played an important role in the creation of this Western, cowboy culture. In my mind this Western, cowboy culture is the epitome of what this country is founded on—traits like independence and freedom.

“In this day and age it’s probably more important than ever for people to be reminded of this. We have jumped the track in so many areas and people don’t realize how hard people worked in the old days or in the beginning when this country was being established to reach this level that past generations and this generation have been able to enjoy. I really think that rodeo is one of the few sports that really represents what this country’s about.”

These are trying times for a lot of people in this world, and a lot of people are wanting to turn back the clock and return to their roots. The Western way of life has so much tradition to it that it really does fit the bill. In Mahan’s words, “We are teetering on a very dangerous time, not just in this country but on this planet. We see what’s going on in so many other countries where people are trying to create a lifestyle that we have been able to enjoy for such a long time. I feel like some of us are taking that lifestyle for granted.

“Those people are starting to click onto what they’ve been missing. It’s about self-reliance, and it’s how Americans have lived for generations. This is a serious time in history. It’s wakeup time. If people really understand more about this sport and how it has developed into what it is today from where it started on the ranch, that’s important. History is very important to all walks of life, and rodeo is no different. It keeps us on track.”

 

 
 
 
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