Mommas, please let your babies grow up to be cowboys: The Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame inducts 2018 class
for Tri-State Livestock News
Cowboy (noun): A man, typically one on horseback, who herds and tends cattle, especially in the western US.
That is the standard definition of a cowboy. While most can identify with that definition, hundreds of people who gathered in the Casper Event Center on Sunday might be able to give you 50 definitions of a cowboy. That’s how many men and women were inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame this year.
‘Someone with some get up and go’, that’s how Clarkie Reynolds, a 2018 HOF Inductee, defines a cowboy. Reynolds and his family were all smiles at the event.
“Today is a good day,” said Reynolds.
Laura Lee Wilkinson’s husband, Chuck Wilkinson, was honored in the 2018 induction class. I asked what a Wyoming Cowboy looked like to her.
“Handsome,” she chuckles. “Honest to the core, with good values and ethics,” said Wilkinson, “I think they would set a good example for this world if we just paid attention to them.”
The Wyoming Hall of Fame inducted the fifth class of Cowboys in 2018. Board member, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, says the Cowboy State was later than others to start a Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean there is a shortage of Wyoming Cowboys.
“It’s the foundation of our state,” said Stearns, “We’re called the Cowboy State and we are very proud of that.”
Senators John Barasso and Mike Enzi were in attendance on Sunday as well. Each spoke about the history and tradition that could be found in the room. Sen. Enzi called the men in women in the room ‘the true spirit of the west’.
“Backbone, heart, nerve, and guts. That’s what makes up a cowboy,” said Sen. Barasso.
To date, 250 men and women have been inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy HOF. Each year since 2014 the HOF board has accepted 50 nominees to be inducted. Inductees are nominated and then separated into the region they spent most of their life in. The board chooses roughly two honorees from each of the 10 regions the state is divided into.
Stearns says the board has many plans for the future. One of them is to design a trailer with memorabilia and videos of the inducted cowboys and cowgirls to travel the state. One of the ways inductees are honored is with a short video remembering stories, ways of life and traditions. Stearns believes it is important honor the legacy made by cowboys, and to share the history and culture with the next generation.
“The people that are still pursuing that culture are the ones that are important to us,” said Stearns.
On the website, wyomingcowboyhalloffame.com you can hear many of the videos, read through stories, and see photos of the inductees and their brands. Stearns says most of the inductees’ stories are in their own words.
While movies, television, and social media portray the American Cowboy in many different ways, Stearns says it is more important than ever to share the story of the true Wyoming Cowboy. Men like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were once connected to America’s youth. Today, those names might be foreign to teenagers. Stearns believes telling the stories of Wyoming Cowboys might give kids an opportunity to know a Cowboy once again.
The Cowboy HOF board is connecting with the community in other ways as well. A recently released booklet will soon be found in all fourth grade classes in each county of Wyoming. The activity/coloring book tells the stories of cowboys and offers real facts about true cowboys.
“That’s the best way we thought to get to the kids,” said Stearns, “We’re trying to do what we can to put the picture of the cowboy out there again.”
Stearns has her own definition of a cowboy.
“A lot of people say he is a myth,” said Stearns, “The Wyoming Cowboy is one who loves ranching, a good hand with a horse and a cow, can fix anything he is sent out to do, and today they have to be businessmen.”
Torrie Wilson agrees. Her father was inducted in the 2018 class, and what some might call a traditional cowboy. Today, she says a cowboy might take on another definition.
“They are out there pioneering all sort of new things and working with technology,” said Williams.
Keeping up with the markets, playing the futures and maybe selling cattle online is something that is commonplace in todays cowboy world. Advances in technology don’t change the core values of a cowboy though.
“It’s your cattle come first, your livestock, and your family. Those are things we like to perpetuate,” said Stearns.
Stearns says one of the most important things to take away from the HOF Induction is to nominate those who you believe are cowboys. She says lot of times it’s the hired man who never owned any land that were some of the best cowboys.
“If you spent most of you life looking between the ears of a horse at the hind end of a cow, that is who we want to honor,” said Stearns.
You can nominate your cowboy or cowgirl at http://www.wyomingcowboyhalloffame.com