Nebraska Cattlemen hosts 20th annual Cattlemen’s Ball on June 2-3 to fight against cancer |

Nebraska Cattlemen hosts 20th annual Cattlemen’s Ball on June 2-3 to fight against cancer

Terri Licking
for Tri-State Livestock News
Some of the Lonesome River Ranch cattle serve as 'unofficial greeters' to those coming to the Ball.

Milburn, Neb. — Nestled amidst the grass covered sandhills near Anselmo, on the Milburn road just past Victoria Springs is a lush green valley, bordered by the Middle Loup River on the north; this was the site for the 20th annual Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska.

This year’s theme played on the county license number of Custer County where hosts Jeff and Lisa Johnson welcomed close to 4,000 people June 2-3, who helped in the fight “4 A Cure” against cancer.

Every year the ball moves to different sites across Nebraska highlighting the unique beauty and the hospitality this great state is noted for. Its goal is to raise funds to support the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. Since 1983 when it received its National Cancer Institute designation, the center has focused on cancer care, research and education in Nebraska and throughout the world. The Buffet Cancer Center is only one of 14 founding members of the alliance of leading cancer centers known as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Ninety percent of the proceeds raised by the Cattlemen’s Ball will go to the center, while the remaining 10 percent will go to area medical and healthcare organizations.

Last September, this year’s Cattlemen’s Ball committee viewed the new complex for the Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Center, not far from the current one. After a generous donation from Pamela Buffet, in 2013 ground was broken for the new facility. The Cancer Center complex will include a brand new 10 story cancer research tower, a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic that includes surgical, medical, and radiation oncology, an infusion center, a radiation treatment facility, and an inpatient cancer hospital. Designated opening is shortly after this year’s ball. Please visit for more information.

Twenty-four committees prepared the tents and their contents for the ticket holders. “We closed off our volunteer registration at 897 (on June 1),” stated Cindy Duncan, who with her husband Jim is one of the co-chairs for the ball.

Other co-chairs included Jeff and Karen Evans and Don and Deb Cantrell.

“We have volunteers though that have come and helped and had not signed in, which we so appreciate,” stated Diane Scott, Volunteer Committee chair. At the joint committee meeting in April, Scott was in the process of finding ‘computer nerds’ who with Google spreadsheets would simplify volunteer sign-up. That was accomplished as seen on the website. A few weeks prior to the ball, Scott was concerned as less than 100 volunteers had signed up.

Tents held not only seating for the meals and a saloon tent, but also a general store, a Serenity Garden and a tent where area artists could highlight and sell their art. A tent for silent auction items also will have items that appeal to all ages and a beef tent provided culinary shows as well as samples of Nebraska beef. The ball’s main goal is raising funds to fight cancer, but it also is used to show attendees beef can fit into a heart healthy diet.

Golfing on June 2 was the first of many fun weekend activities. While volunteers were at the site continuing the set-up, 20 teams of four golfers had a ‘shotgun’ start at the Broken Bow golf course/Country Club.

Also at the golf course waving in the brisk breeze were ten memorial boards. These boards were purchased at $100 each and displayed pictures of cancer victims, as well as one survivor. “We were hoping for more, but there were so many different ways of donating,” stated Jim Duncan, Broken Bow lawyer, who with his wife Cindy and others are the co-chairs of the Cattlemen’s Ball, assisting hosts the Johnsons.

‘Promised Petals’ hanging floral arrangements memorialized cancer victims and survivors at the ball.

Airboat rides on the Middle Loup river offered another unique donation opportunity.

At 12:30, close to 20 ladies congregated at the Kinkaider’s Brewing Co. in their meeting barn at Broken Bow to paint wooden door charms. Sonya Griffith of Kearney brought the items needed for the project.

“My husband and I started this business out of our home in 2014. We now have a store in downtown Kearney,” she said. “We put the warmth in country living.”

Besides the wooden ribbons, wood charms in the shape of Nebraska also were painted.

The Trail Boss ticket holders began passing through the gate at 5 p.m. to enjoy a delicious buffet of prime rib sandwiches, shrimp, meatballs, fresh vegetables and to top it off, ice cream sundaes adorned with the taster’s choice of toppings and treats.

Colleen Williams, who for more than 15 years has been the news anchor at NTV station near Kearney and herself a cancer survivor, emceed the evening.

At 7:30 p.m., she turned it over to world champion Matt Lowery, auctioneer from Burwell who auctioned the first of four live auctions. Saturday the fourth and final auction took place. The first item on Friday night’s auction was an angus heifer sired by a Lonesome River Ranch bull. It sold for $5750 and will make its new home in Winner, S.D.

Over 1000 Trail Boss tickets were sold at $400 apiece for the first night of the 2017 Cattlemen’s Ball at the Lonesome River Ranch, Milburn, Neb. F

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User