October 10 – Hobbs, NM. The Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame recently celebrated its 29th Annual Llano Banquet.
With more than 300 people in attendance, the crowd enjoyed an authentic cowboy dinner from the Slaton chuck wagon, music from the Jody Nix band, and most importantly, deserving individuals were recognized for their contributions to the farming and ranching industry.
Oscar Henard was recognized as the Young Rancher of the year. Allen Jones was recognized as the Working Cowboy of the year.
Austin Etheridge, Justin Lathrom, Ashley Smith, and Zach Ozborn were each recognized as recipients of scholarships to New Mexico Junior College given through the LCCHOF.
W.H. Fort, Jr., was named as the Silver Concho Honoree. The Silver Concho Honoree is bestowed upon someone who doesn’t necessarily have a ranching or rodeo background, but who has contributed significantly to Lea County. Fort announced many rodeos and was highly involved in rodeo and area roping arenas. He was known to be especially dedicated to children. Fort spent most of his life in Lea County with his wife, Bennie Lance, and their four children, Max, Bill, Ben, and Belinda.
Robert (Bob) Eidson and Kenneth (Kenny) Smith were both honored as Bronze Cowboy Honorees and inducted into the LCCHOF. The Bronze Cowboy Honorees are recognized for their contribution in the rodeo and ranching industry of Lea County.
Eidson did not grow up in the ranching industry. Instead, he learned the trade on his cousin’s, Millard Eidson, ranch in Lovington, New Mexico after returning from World War II where he received a Bronze Star for his service. Eidson inherited the ranch and kept it as one of the most respected outfits in the region, with a reputation for quality cattle and horses. Eidson was one of the charter members on the LCCHOF Board of Directors, serving nine years. Bob Eidson married Juandell Key, and they had four daughters, Patsy, Judy, Betty, and Bobbi. To his friends and neighbors, Eidson is fondly remembered as “a fairly inconspicuous, medium-sized man who got bigger the longer you knew him.”
Born into a ranching family, Smith is a real, honest-to-goodness cowboy and rancher. He enjoys raising good cattle and good horses. For many years, he was an avid team roper winning several titles. Accordingly, he found time to teach and nurture his own children and grandchildren, who have become exceptional riders and ropers, holding several championship titles themselves. Smith has always been known as one to serve his community, serving on numerous boards, including the American Junior Rodeo Association for 18 years. Kenny Smith married Patsy Espy, and they had four children, Ken, Wes, Jana, and Wayne. One friend stated, “In all my contacts with Kenny Smith, in the arena and out, I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about Kenny, nor have I heard Kenny say a bad word about anyone else. If he tells you something, that’s the way it is.”
The Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 to 5 pm. Membership to the Hall of Fame is open to any interested person. For more information, call 575.392.6730 or 575.492.2675.
Mexico Junior College, 5317 Lovington Hwy, Hobbs, NM 88240
Phone: 575.392.4510, 1.800.657.6260
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