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Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame announces new inductees

Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame announces new inductees

Bill Thurston Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Fall of Fame

Bill Thurston spent his career doing custom haying and fencing work for Panhandle ranches before buying his parents’ operation where he still works with his kids and grandkids.

Nine cowboys from the Nebraska Panhandle are being honored with an induction into the Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Among those honored are Forrest “Bud” Bonifiled of Cherry County, John Jensen of Arthur County, Dorman “Darty” Schilke of Chase County, and Vernon VanEpps of Keya Paha County. Those recognized posthumously are Blake Bequin of Sheridan County, Dr. Leonard “Buzz” DeNaeyer of Cherry County, Leon Gift of Thomas County, Russell Nutter of Thomas County, and Lewis “Bus” Olson of Brown County.

The hall of fame honoring individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the western lifestyle or horse culture in the areas of competition, business or support of rodeo and Western arts and entertainment.

The 16th annual Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony is set for June 5 at the 4-H building at the Cherry County Fairgrounds in Valentine. Social Hour will begin at 4 p.m., a benefit auction will take place at 5 p.m., banquet at 6 p.m. and the induction ceremony at 7 p.m.

Tickets are on sale and the public is welcome. For tickets, contact Rod Palmer at 402-387-2212 or at P.O. Box 127, Ainsworth, NE 69210, or email Tiffany Barthel at

Anyone wishing to donate items for the benefit auction can contact Rod Palmer at 402-387-2212, Bret Younkin at 402-760-0833, Tiffany Barthel at or any board member.

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