Mandan News

Cowboy Hall of Fame reflects on 2012

One year ago, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame was in an arena where it didn’t want to be – saddled with debt and assessing its role in North Dakota’s evolving business climate.

“When we started 2012, our saddle bags were filled with past due invoices and an overdue bank note. We were reeling from a financial downturn and the organization was void of day-to-day leadership,” said Ray Morrell, NDCHF executive director. “With great support from our stakeholders and the general public, along with focused determination from the board of directors, we were able to finish the year stronger.”

Appointed as executive director mid-year 2012, Morrell says the NDCHF is blazing a new trail, transitioning from paying off old debt to building for the future.

“As an organization, we immediately sought ways to reduce expenses, increase efficiencies and increase revenue supporting our operations and programming,” Morrell said. “Today, we are in a better position to leverage those contributions for the needs of tomorrow.”

The NDCHF owns and maintains the Center of Western Heritage & Cultures: Native American, Ranching and Rodeo, in Medora. Recognized in 2007 as North Dakota’s Tourist Attraction of the Year and as America’s Best Cowboy Museum in 2010 by the National Cowboy Symposium, the NDCHF’s Medora Center has prime exposure during the four-month summer tourism season.

On Feb. 22 and 23, the NDCHF will celebrate its 17th anniversary at the Seven Seas Hotel and Convention Center in Mandan. Its annual celebration and expo is filled with events, meetings and gatherings that support the cowboy culture the NDCHF was formed to preserve.

Renowned championship rodeo cowboy and television star Monty ‘Hawkeye’ Henson will headline the Saturday night banquet for the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame Celebration and Expo.

Henson is a three-time World Champion Saddle Bronc rider, in 1975, 1976 and 1982, four-time National Finals Rodeo Saddle Bronc Average winner and 14-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier. He was inducted in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. His rodeo career spanned two decades.

Henson has appeared in numerous television programs and films. In 2004, he was cast in four episodes of the HBO series “Deadwood” alongside Ian McShane. He is also a Country music entertainer.

Events are open to the public. For more information, go to