Mullen, Neb. — The Nebraska Cattlemen Sandhills Affiliate knows how to throw a party. They held their ninth Winter Ball on Dec. 31, 2021. When they first began hosting a Winter Ball, it was on the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day — take your wife out to an elegant meal and gathering of friends, held at the Eppley Lodge of the State 4-H Camp in the beautiful Nebraska National Forest near Halsey. It seemed to conflict with the Heart City Bull bash in Valentine and one or two area bull sales.
Once the community of Mullen built their new community center on the Hooker County Fairgrounds, the location changed to there as did the time — becoming a New Year’s Eve Winter Ball — bringing in the New Year in style. It has proven to be a tremendous success, as parking is not a problem and the tradition of a great prime rib meal first done by the camp staff is now done by Deibler’s Butcher Block (Doug Deibler) Mullen, and meal is completed by Chuckwagon N Jug owners and helpers, Greg and Dawn Mallory, who also cater the cash bar — a very popular place throughout the evening. Another tradition carried over to the current location is the assistance provided by the members of the area FFA chapters of Mullen, Sandhills and Thedford (2016 was the first time Thedford FFA helped as that was the first year of the chapter).
Due to COVID, the NCSA did not ring in the New Year in 2021, so it was time. The traditional weather for most all of them has been cold, windy, and snowy — as was the case this year. The snow did not come until mid-way through the evening though, but the prediction of such kept several away, as did ill health. They were set to feed 150, but some place settings were empty.
As from the start, the NCSA makes their Winter Ball their major fundraiser, as they seek sponsorships and donations of auction items for the silent and live auction they conduct. Also, rifles are part of that scenario, with a raffle conducted on choice of a 22-250 or a 6.5 Creedmore rifle. The winner of the raffle gets their pick from the two while the other rifle enters the live auction ring. (Thayne Rodocker was the lucky raffle winner, unsure which rifle he chose.) This year’s auction saw an influx of over $4,500 which will help the NCSA award three $1,000 scholarships to two graduating high school seniors and one to a college student in the NCSA area. Sponsors helping included Harsh Mercantile, Purdum, Western Nebraska Bank, Thedford, Daniels Manufacturing and West Plains Bank, Ainsworth, Sandhills Fencing, Purdum A L Silencer, Stapleton and Al and Sallie Atkins, North Platte, formerly of Halsey.
Members of the 2022 NCSA board include President John Kraye, Mullen, Secretary Stefani Schaffer, Purdum, and Treasurer Kelly Kennedy, Purdum, (Kelly’s wife Kat is the Nebraska Cattlemen Region 2 vice-chair of member services). Other members include Frank Utter and Eric Schipporeit, Brewster, Troy Saner and Adam Zutavern, Dunning. New to the board is Natalie Jones, Stapleton and Jim Latoski, Thedford. The Sandhills Affiliate is part of the Region 2 of the Nebraska Cattlemen. The other affiliates are the Valentine Cattlemen, Bassett and the Hyannis Affiliate. The NCSA area includes all the counties of Blaine, Thomas and Hooker and parts of south Cherry and northern Logan. Country Rush Band provided the music that brought in 2022.
The NCSA also hosts a summer golf outing at the Dismal River Golf Club in June, and come September, this will be the third year they will collaborate with the Sandhills Cattle Association to host a Fall Feeder Calf Preview tour.
The annual NCSA board meeting with election of officers will be held Jan. 17 at the Sandhills Corral Restaurant, Thedford. Meal will be provided by Merch at 6 p.m. CT. A short business meeting and a speaker will follow. RSVPs would be appreciated to Stefani Schaeefer at (805) 705-0411 or John Kraye at (308) 546-7309 by Jan. 14