The 2018 Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska has come and gone. If you were not one of the 5000 in attendance, you might be asking, “Hey, Ashli! What the french toast is a Cattlemen’s Ball?” Well, here’s a little explanation of the Nebraska organization (straight from their website):
The Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska is a 501(c)(3) charity whose mission is to raise money for cancer research. Ninety percent of the profits benefit the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, with 10% donated back to local communities’ health and wellness programs.
The Cattlemen’s Ball has become one of the Midwest’s premier events, raising millions of dollars for cancer research. Held in a different and unique location each year, the Cattlemen’s Ball gives host communities the opportunity to showcase their area of the state. Hundreds of volunteers, donors, patrons and friends come together for one unforgettable weekend in June when thousands of guests attend the Ball under the big top tents, beneath the stars.
You don’t have to be a rancher to attend the Cattlemen’s Ball, nor do you have to know how to dance. All that is required is a warm heart and generous spirit. There is something for everyone at the Cattlemen’s Ball – shopping, dining, entertainment, ranch rodeo, demonstrations, art, special activities and more, so make your plans early to attend!
I was first asked, two years ago, by a family friend and survivor, Laura, to think about attending the Ball to participate in the Survivor Style Show that takes place on Saturday of the Ball. From there, a really kind woman named Marietta said she wanted to help us with the tickets. And I borrowed some boots, found the exact Loretta Lynn-esque dress (which was no easy feat since it seemed lace and boho were not quite yet hot on the scene) and the hubs and I headed to the Lienetics Ranch near Cortland, Nebraska.
Last year, the hubs and I were invited by one of the co-host couples to attend the Ball near Anselmo, Nebraska, where we were offered lodging for the weekend at their beautiful home. I got the opportunity to participate in the Style Show once again and to speak at the Saturday night event.
And this year, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the co-host couples once again (If you aren’t getting the trend — that God is all over this — then let me just point that out, too… God is so all up in this because each year, the hubs and I have randomly the nicest people) and was asked if I would assist with the Style Show and speak at the Saturday night event. And so, the hubs and I contacted one of my besties whose parents (who totally rock) reside near this year’s site close to Hebron, purchased some tickets, and packed our bags for our third year at a Cattlemen’s Ball.
We met at my friend’s and headed out to the Ball site (I’ve included some of the photos from my InstaStory… bear with the weirdness… but I think we all know by now that I am not a picture editor:).
The details in the tents are so unique each year. I mean, where else can one find a chandelier made out of mason jars outdoors?
This is my gal/sorority sister/fave eye doctor in the world/friend till the end, Nicole. She grew up in the area of this year’s Ball and was an awesome Hostess for us this weekend. Also, we both consulted each other heavily regarding attire because girls. She went with the ever-current romper and I, opted for the cropped jumpsuit. Because we all know how fashion savvy I am, I will tell you that I call this look of mine “Ta Tas and Tablecloths.” If you are interested in checking it out (see what I did there?) I found it on the sale rack at Von Maur Juniors department for $32. All the praise hands on that find. The earrings are Oldies but goodies from J Crew. I love their earrings. I can’t help it.
I ran into so many familiar faces including one of my longest-running friend’s mom.
ANNNNNND Jeff and Karen Evans who hosted us at their home last year and I’ve come to call friends as well as gotten to know their daughter super well and we’ve spent time together hanging — families and kids. The Ball is magic like that, I am learning.
It. Was. HOTTTTTT on Friday night. And also, apparently, windy. And in the wind, my Tablecloth looks like a really strange big-person-onesie. BUT it was perfect for the weather so I am calling it a win. And, I had a HOTTTT date, too.
We got to hang with these two all weekend as we explored the Hergott Farm.
People from all over the state (and elsewhere) come to celebrate the Ball and celebrate the cattle industry.
I don’t do much alcohol these days… especially with the side effects (read: bathroom time) with my Nerlynx regimen so this coffee truck was just the bomb dot com.
The first night, there were live music performances following the evening program by Tracy Lawrence and Lukas Hoge.
I also made Nicole track down the NU Athletic Director, Bill Moos, for a quick photo and I’m pretty sure he thought I was bananas.
The first night was in the books and we headed out early to get some rest for a full Saturday.
I borrowed (for the third year:) boots from my friend and Texas native, Leslie. Not only do we wear the same size but also her boots are gorgeous so I totally appreciate her kindness.
The hubs and I attended the morning brunch and I was so happy to see a familiar face and rock star survivor, Tory. We got to talk boobs, Balls, and lack of baldness. And we got to celebrate her being on the mend following treatment. In all things amazing and crazy… I first met this beautiful gal when she and her family co-hosted the Ball at the Lienetics Ranch in 2016. Just over a year later, Tory received her own diagnosis.
Lunch included, of course, beef… and another live auction with some really fantastic items. And some really unique things that I have only ever seen auctioned off at a Cattlemen’s Ball.
After lunch I headed to the General Store for the Survivor Style Show.
Clearly I have a future on the runway;)… and yes… I snagged this photo from the Fairbury Journal News.
Three “Balls” ago, when my friend Laura asked if I’d be a part of the Survivor Style Show and I didn’t know that doing it would be such a gift. Each year I’ve met different people with different stories, diagnoses, and backgrounds.This year I got to serve as the MC and it was incredible to read each person’s journey.It is such a cool thing to hear just how many of the participants are positive and thankful to be here. And, those who work behind the scenes to put the whole thing together are absolutely awesome. Thanks also to all the vendors who choose to share their clothing and the people each year who provide makeup and hair services for those who want it.
After the Style Show, I got a snapshot with Pam. We “met” via Facebook as I went through treatment. She is a Survivor and Mother-in-law to a friend of mine. I love that her motto through treatment and one that she shared with me was that Bald is Beautiful!
I also loved getting to check out all the vendors in the General Store including my friend, Kelsey, who owns Madison+Barrett. Each time I changed outfits at the Ball, at stopped at Kelsey’s booth and she and her friends (Kim and Joyce) accessorized my outfits to complement any of my own jewelry I’d brought. (Thanks, Kels, for letting me borrow some baubles for the Ball)
I found this little pink dress (that looks BRIGHT orange in the tent) at a consignment store in O-Town. I always check it out for dresses because one person’s no-longer-wanting-to-wear becomes my just-right for a fraction of the cost. Win/win. And the earrings are J Crew from a couple years ago. Necklace and bracelet stack by Madison+Barrett.
We checked out the Art Tent and perused the one-of-a-kind finds. And then, we were just a swingin’.
I got to see some faces from “home” including my friend-since-we-were-tiny, Jen.
And then, the evening meal and program was on like Donkey Kong. There were so many fabulous people recognized including committee members of this year’s Ball.
And after a truck drawing by the most darling little girl, Ellie, words from the Governor and others, jokes from the MC Mike Flood, and even the head Oncologist of the Buffett Cancer Center, Dr Cowan, I was invited to share some remarks.
Y’all… there was something like 3000 people in the audience.
It was my second year getting address attendees at the event and I have to say, I was still nervous. And I still cried. I always think that I’m going to say the words, “You have cancer” and I’m not going to cry. I always think I’m going to tell about my treatment or about hugging my boys and what it all has meant to me. But I guess I’m just not there yet. But this year, I also felt like I wished I could always be taking my extra time speaking to rooms of people and reminding them about their “extra time.”
I talked about my Grandma and Grandpa. I talked about my lack of knowledge of cattle. And my wealth of knowledge about my Breast Cancer. I had a chance to explain the crazy way God has brought me to different faces of the Ball. About my boys. My family. I even talked about nipples and balls (ohhhh Lawdy!). To Natalie and Rob who had faith in me to share my story again, I doubted your decision but I am so grateful you invited me back. And I can only hope I helped give back to the experience and the fundraising efforts at the Hergott Farm.
Afterward, I just enjoyed a great evening at the Ball with the guy I love to the ends of the earth. Talking with my friends and making new ones is really one of the best parts of the Ball.
I even got to see a few of my cousins… in front of the Fancy Porta-potties.
The third Live Auction was awesome and the auctioneer team is totally top notch. Nebraska Basketball Coach Tim Miles also entertained the audience with his time on the stage and brought in some bucks and laughs.
And Trace Adkins gave a stellar performance before the final dance party started on the other music stage.
We drank a ton of water at our table…
And even a bit of wine.
And… once again… we tracked down someone for a picture and I felt that I needed to tell Coach Miles how the hubs and I met eachother in the Husker Red Zone about 17 years ago.
And then, we hopped on a Gator and found our car. With a lot of smiles to take home.
We stayed up chatting on the patio and enjoying the sweet summer night in the country. And I thanked God for all the stars in the sky and all the life in my life.
The next morn, we drank some Jo, relived bits of the weekend, and I gave Nicole a huge hug for being my friend and putting up with me for the last 18 years. And yes… this is a true unedited I WOKE UP LIKE THIS photo. They headed back to their four kiddos, us to our three (and made it in time to watch the Oldest kick buns at a track meet), and I would assume that the Ball has gone to bed for another year.
Ohhhhhh. The Ball. It was a memorable time. And I can’t say enough how thankful we are and have been to learn about it, to see the kindness that extends to it from all around the Good Life, and just how extraordinary of an event it is.
THANK YOU to all who give their time, sweat, moments, breath, and lives to making the Ball happen. Thank you to the Hergotts for hosting so many people on their land this year. Thank you to all who volunteer and make every detail so just right. And thank you mostly, for your commitment as humans to WHIPPING CANCER and to giving funds towards research and to other cancer causes in Nebraska. It’s just astounding what good people can do when they choose to do good.
I hope you remember this. You have extra time. Right now. So fill it with all that matters to you — your family, your work, your passions — whatever they might be, when you choose to give anything your time, know that this… this is YOUR extra. The extra special. The extra wonderful. Please always carry this with you: This is my extra time.
Read my recap from the 2017 Ball here.
And the 2016 event here.