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IMMORTALIZED IN BRONZE
Bust of North Platte rodeo announcer, Hall of Fame member Hadley Barrett graces Wild West Rodeo Arena.
The PRCA Hall of Fame member, a native of North Platte, was best known as a rodeo announcer, having announced some of the biggest pro rodeos across the nation, including the National Finals Rodeo four times and as television announcer for the Finals 22 years. Barrett passed away in March of 2017 at the age of 87, less than a week after announcing the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
But before he was a rodeo announcer, he was lead for the band Hadley Barrett and the Westerners, singing at dance halls, proms, and county fairs across Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.
In his youth, Barrett rode bareback horses and bulls and roped. He was, first and foremost, a rancher.
He started his son-in-law, Randy Corley, in the rodeo announcing business in North Platte, and the two co-announced several rodeos, including the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, which Barrett began in 1965 and Corley in 1980.
“Hadley took me under his wing,” Corley said. “He never tried to tell me how to announce a rodeo, but he told me the shortcuts. He was one of the greatest mentors a person could have. He was so good. There’s not a rodeo that he and I worked together, that I go today, that I have a real emptiness in my heart for what Hadley Barrett was.”
The sculptor of Barrett’s bronze is Jake Hebbert, who was born and raised in the Sandhills of Nebraska, near Hyannis.
Hebbert knew he had a serious mission: to portray the man who meant so much to rodeo and the residents of North Platte.
When people heard he was working on the bust, they would get excited. “I’d tell people I was working on this project, and their eyes would light up. You can’t go very far around here without running into a story about Hadley.”
Hebbert used one of Barrett’s cowboy hats as part of the model. “The family lent me his hat, and I sculpted around that. If you get the hat right, especially with cowboys, then you’re a long ways towards the likeness. You can recognize people by their hats, and that was one thing I wanted to get absolutely perfect.”
The bust will greet rodeo fans as they enter the grandstands at the Wild West Arena.
Donors for the Hadley Barrett bust include Jim Backenstose, Benje Bendele, Beveridge Inc./Chrystal Minshull, Beutler and Son Rodeo Co., Todd and Ann Bissell, Randy and Michelle Corley, Duane Deterding, Vern Ehlers, David and Lisa Fudge, Gaye Fudge, Larry Gosnell, Merla Hebbert, Leonard K. Hiatt, Dan Keenan, Cory and Ashley Johanson, Dr. Ben Lashley, Lowell and Frankie Moore, Jack Morris, Shawn P. Murdock, NebraskaLand National Bank, Marty Petersen, Matt and Lindsey Pederson, Michael Phillips, Lance Polk, Rick Salee, Chuck Salestrom, Rosenberg Insurance/Larry Stobbs, Chuck Salestrom, Travis Schauda, Kimberly Schroll, Larry Seger, Three Cedar Inc., Bill and Laura Troshynski, Lacy Wickham, Sara and Greg Wilke, Jan Wright, and anonymous gifts.
This year’s Buffalo Bill Rodeo will be held June 15-18 at the Wild West Arena in North Platte, Neb. Performances begin at 8 pm nightly. Tickets are on sale at NebraskalandDays.com and range in price from $10-$23.
For more information, visit the website or call the office at 308.532.7939.
Hadley Barrett’s first pro rodeo announcing job was at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte in 1965. Now he is remembered there with a life-size bronze bust commemorating his contributions to the rodeo industry, music world, and the North Platte community. Photo courtesy NebraskalandDays.
Members of Hadley Barrett’s family gather around a bronze bust of the famed rodeo announcer, musician, contestant and rancher. The bust is located at the Wild West Arena in North Platte, the first pro rodeo Barrett announced. From left to right: Randy Corley, Michelle Corley, Brittany Ballard holding her daughter (and Hadley’s great-granddaughter) Hadley Ann; Kim Jurgens; Wyatt Barrett and Trent Barrett.