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Nebraska’s Winter Ball: Cattle producers gather to celebrate product

Story and Photos Terri Licking

Halsey – Eppley Lodge at the State 4-H Camp in the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey was the place where area cattle producers and friends gathered to celebrate their product at the fourth annual ‘Winter Ball’ hosted by the Nebraska Cattlemen Sandhills Affliate.

Some seedstock producers are seeing the light at the end of the calving tunnel, while others are just entering, so this marked the last social outing on a grand scale for many. The evening festivities included a delicious prime rib supper cooked by the camp staff. The NCSA did a fabulous job compiling decorations from many of the members, including the shed antlers borrowed from President Frank Utter who was said to have brought a 55 gallon drum full. Also adding to the elegance, the folding chairs had covers, which is a rare site to see unless you go a fancy restaurant or big convention.

As always, the ‘blue jackets’ – of the Mullen and Sandhills FFA chapters helped serve and clean-up after. This year though, they were joined by Thedford FFA members. This is the first year of FFA in Thedford thanks to their ‘coach’ Bethany Blackburn, a Bassett native.

“They all come looking very nice in official dress and did a great job of taking care of our guests. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” said Craig Miles, Brownlee rancher and treasure of the NCSA.

Miles even went as far as stepping up for the blue jackets, our future Ag leaders. A tip jar was on hand so guests could help out the FFA chapters.

He challenged all if $500 was placed for tips, he and Brenda Masek, Purdum, NCSA board member and Region 2 NC Membership services co-chair, would trade footwear. The challenge was met, $550 raised and Miles put on Masek’s red high heels and paraded around the lodge.

Another much appreciated hard worker was Ron Hasebrock, chauffer of the guests from parking lots to Lodge. “Thanks too to the Sandhills School who donated the use of the van,” stated Utter.

Silent auction items donated by NC members and friends were on display for bidding while the hot item for the evening, a golf package donated by the Dismal River Golf Club was live auctioned as well as a few other live auction items. Auctioneer for the evening was Troy Ruhter of Ruhter Auction and Reality.

Also up for live auction were the beautiful arrangements of roses used as decorations. Husbands could redeem themselves if they did not give their wives flowers for Valentine’s Day.

New NCSA board member, Martin DeNayer of Mullen was welcomed to the NCSA board. Besides Utter, Masek and Miles, other members include Tess Quittner, Halsey, secretary, Troy Saner, Dunning, and Dan Wacker, Milburn.

Recapping the National Cattlemen’s convention in San Antonio was NC president Barb Cooksley of Anselmo. Cooksley also talked on state and federal legislative issues that are in the forefront of cattle producers.

“The NC is supporting Gov. Ricketts on LB 958 and 959 for property relief,” she said. She also said that it was the eleventh hour for the dietary guidelines that are updated every five years.

“They were going to take beef out of the guidelines but thanks to all who sent comments against it, beef is still part of the dietary guidelines, as it always should be. There are plenty of lean beef offerings as well as all the other nutrients,” she said.

Cooksley also encouraged notes of appreciation be sent to our U.S. Senator Deb Fish er, She was instrumental in seeing that Nebraska Kosher beef was sent to Israel, which had not been done since 2003. Beef amounting to $405 million is sent to Israel, it is good Nebraska is again part of that.

“Our goal for tonight was to make enough funds to sponsor scholarships for graduating seniors from Mullen, Thedford and Sandhills schools.

This is the second year for $500 scholarships, one to each school. We hope to eventually raise enough through this winter event to make the scholarships $1,000. This ball also helps pay for workshops we sponsor as well as our summer golf outing at the Dismal River Club, and a fall ranch tour,” explained Utter.

“The evening concluded with live music by Crazy Alice, whose main singer is Thedford native, Amanda ‘Mandy’ From. ❖




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