Larry and Mary Ann Long
Volunteers keep organizations across the U.S. running. About 64.5 million people across the country volunteered their time in 2012.
And some of those people help produce the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte, which is run strictly by volunteers.
Each year, the rodeo honors a volunteer with its Trail Boss Award. The award is given to an individual who supports and promotes rodeo in general, and the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in particular, said Dr. Jerry Woodruff, rodeo committeeman and himself a volunteer. The Trail Boss recognition has been awarded since Nebraskaland Days came to North Platte in 1968.
In 1996, it was awarded to North Platte rancher Larry Long. Long was the second generation of his family to win the award; his dad and uncle, George Long and Charles Long, had won it 22 years earlier.
Long was a pro rodeo tie-down roper, team roper and steer wrestler, and grew up competing at the family’s rodeo at Long’s Grove. In the early 1940s, their rodeo moved to North Platte.
Long, a long-time Buffalo Bill rodeo committeeman and chairman from 2000-04, enjoyed working with the people.
“We had a real special bunch on the committee. We had a lot of fun, but we did a lot of work, too,” he said. Twelve men made up the committee, and “it was a good bunch of guys to work with.”
Long, who is 72, competed in rodeo until he was 60 years old, and he and his wife, Mary Ann, still make it out to the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
“I get out there to give them a little trouble,” he laughed. The committee men “are real good friends, and every once in a while, they give me a call for advice, or to ask what happened way back then.”
Woodruff said a lot of extra time and work behind the scenes is put in by volunteers. “All of these people do quite a few extra things for the rodeo during the performances each night and for months leading up to the event.”
This year’s Trail Boss award will be announced during the last night of the rodeo, Sat., June 15. The Buffalo Bill Rodeo starts June 12. Tickets are available online at NebraskalandDays.com or through the Nebraskaland Days office, 509 East 4th Street, Suite G, or 308.532.7939.
For more information on the rodeo, visit NebraskalandDays.com.