Families gather to recognize Hall of Famers

Rhonda Sedgewick Stearns, NLJ Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Deb Sewell

Above, Tiffany Schwenke, Region 1 director, shakes hands with Deb Sewell of Newcastle, who was at the awards ceremony representing her great-grandfather Julius Frederick Bock, as Sen. John Barrasso stands behind her.


Cowboy hats crowded the halls and elevators and stairways and restaurants of Casper, Wyoming’s Ramkota Hotel last weekend.  The reservations desk was crowded with booted cowboys and cowgirls of all ages asking for keys and luggage carts to the rooms they’d reserved well in advance.


“Howdy” resounded across the huge lobby as acquaintances made there in former years were renewed, and soon the comfortable groupings of couches, chairs and coffee tables were crowded. Ranch folk seek rest for knees and backs that feel untold horseback years and miles, mostly in uncomfortable weather.


Friday evening’s wonderful buffet of tasty Spanish food was enjoyed over some beers and some coffee as tales and memories were swapped across the large dining room. People rose from their eating to check the many silent auction items displayed around the room, some bidding on numerous beautiful items, others placing higher bids on a few.


Deb Sewell, of the Julius Bock Family, arrived around 10:30 a.m. to load this writer and a small amount of luggage into her car for the scenic ride through Wright and Midwest. At the north end of Casper, she took the Airport exit and we visited the wonderful Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum that adjoins the airport. Both of us are interested in military history, but we were both also anxious to see the back room, which is dedicated to honorees of the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame. We loved the displays, the books that tell so many cowboy and cowgirl histories, and the photos. I was thrilled to see my mom on her small pinto horse in front of an old barn Dad built, and my cousin Raymond Smith of Niobrara County in front of an old log homestead house. 


We then journeyed back under the interstate to the Ramkota Hotel parking lot, to join that crowd checking in. Our room was comfortable, two big beds and windows overlooking the city lights of Casper. It didn’t take me long to chuck my bags, secure my room key in a safe pocket and hunt the elevator going down.  Cowboy conversation awaited, and I happily greeted friends and acquaintances. 


A long line of folks was waiting for lanyards with name cards to fill out and hang around their necks so they could go on into the banquet/program room when 7:30 rolled around. They were already inside the area, surrounded by cowboy vendors, where they could shop and enjoy the work of marvelous craftsmen and women displayed there. 


Everything from Cowboy Whiskey to a rocking horse for your littlest cowboy or cowgirl relative was on display; plus anything you or them might want to wear. Leather gear, saddle blankets, even saddles — and Western art in multiple mediums.


The evening led us into the large dining room with tables reserved for various county and family groups, and it was surrounded with many beautiful silent auction items. The stage was set for the opening ceremonies, which included a color guard placing the American and Wyoming flag, and the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a blessing for the meal. 


Plated meals were served and the prime rib dinner and wonderful cheesecake dessert  were worthy of the occasion, thanks to Ramkota’s amazing chefs. Many eager bidders checked silent auction offerings and signed their autographs there. Then the Nelson Brothers of the Ranch Radio Show auctioned and caught bids as Miss Rodeo Wyoming 2023 displayed the items throughout the crowded room. Laughter rang  out and challenges were placed on hotly contested items.  


The 14-place Bock table was fortunate to be next to one ranch woman and her family who must have tenacity nearly equal to theirs! She was set on a certain item, and someone across the large room was also, and bids went up and up. Everyone at our neighbor table was passing cash to the bidder, then people from our table began digging in their pockets and giving her cash, then people from the tables on other sides of her. Finally the adversary, whom we couldn’t even see at the far end of the room, conceded! The resulting roar had to be quieted by the emcee.


The Induction of Julius Bock was as impressive as we had all known it would be, and there wasn’t a dry eye at our table, nor some of the ones near us. A good time was had by all and Weston County was beautifully represented, once more. 


The entire Bock Family group stood as Miss Rodeo Wyoming presented them with the Julius Bock Induction Plaque, and they received a standing ovation.


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