Lem & Blanche McKenney Hunter are the 2017 Entertainer Couple.
“…Mr. Asher nearly cries every time I win.” [Said by Blanche when asked if her races with Frank Asher are fixed.]
Lemuel M. “Lem” Hunter was born to Lemuel M., Sr. and Elizabeth Hunter 1873 in Illinois. An early achievement of Lem was his ride in a cattle drive across the State of Kansas. Blanche McKenney Hunter was born in Illinois in 1863 to Mr. and Mrs. A.C. McKenney, Sr. When she was an infant her family moved to Haddam, Kansas. Soon, she was in the saddle and it was nothing for her to ride 100 on the plains of Kansas and Nebraska. In 1896, Blanche McKenney gained fame when she won the gold medal in Pittsburgh, PA. Here, she rode the 20 mile relay race changing horses 19 times and leading her nearest opponent by one-quarter mile with a time of 38 minutes 52 seconds. This set a record which stood for many years. Blanche, Annie Oakley, and two others were the only four women who had acts in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West in 1898. While employed by Cody, she met Lem who was part of Cody’s “Rough Bunch” of 16 men who rode broncos who were pitted against any other 16 men picked by the “world.” Lem and Blanche both used “high school” horses for Col. Cody. High school is a style of balance and jumping most commonly performed by Lipizzaner and Andalusian horses. In 1899, Lem and Blanche married and formed their own company the “The Blanche McKenney-Hunter Racing Combination.” Blanche performed “chariot races” against an opponent, usually Frank Asher, at fairs for the Hunter’s company. In these races the riders stood on the back of two or three horses. Lem’s professional riding career had ended when he was injured while riding in Cody’s show. Lem died in 1929, but Blanche continued performing until 1939. She died in 1958. Lem and Blanche McKenney Hunter are buried in Haddam Cemetery.
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Martina McBride is the 2016 CowGIRL Entertainer.
“They don’t recognize that [domestic violence] until it is too late. So it’s an ongoing education that you have to give young girls.”
Martina Mariea Schiff was born on July 29, 1966 in Sharon, Kansas to Daryl and Jeanne Schiff. Her father, a farmer and cabinetry shop owner, introduced Martina to country music at a young age. After school she listened to, and sang along with, recordings of popular women country artists. Her father fronted a band, “The Schiffters,” and at the age of eight or nine, Martina began singing with them. Over the next few years her role with the band increased as she played keyboard. She joined a Wichita rock band, the Penetrators, and in 1987, she formed a band, Lotus, which rented space from a studio engineer, John McBride who she married in 1988. In 1989, the couple moved to Nashville, Tennessee to launch their country music careers. The two worked for Garth Brooks who was impressed by Martina’s enthusiasm and made her his opening act. She obtained a recording contract from RCA Nashville Records in 1991. Her debut album, The Time Has Come, was released later that year. Over her career she has had 13 studio albums and several concert and compilation albums. In early 1996, she had her first number one hit “Wild Angels” which was the title song from her third album. Her second number one song was “A Broken Wing” from her album Evolution. She won her first Female Vocalist of the Year from CMA in 1999. This was followed by three more in 2002, 2003 and 2004 tying her with Reba McEntire for the most wins. Her 17 nominations for this award also tied with those of McEntire. Her number one hits continued in 1999 with “I Love You,” from the album Emotion. The number three country song “This One’s for the Girls,” off her 2003 album Martina, was a number one song on the Adult Contemporary charts. In 2010, Martina’s run with RCA ended when she signed with Republic Nashville. Her 2016 album Reckless released through Nash Icon Records, debuted at number two on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Over the years, she has played a larger part in writing her songs on her albums. Martina McBride has been very active in charitable causes, working as spokeswoman for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Tulsa Domestic Violence and Intervention Services. Every year since 1995, she has hosted Middle Tennessee’s YWCA’s celebrity auction. Martina was awarded the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award in 2003. Martina and husband John have three daughters, Delaney born in 1994, Emma born in 1998 and Ava born in 2005.
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Orin Friesen is the 2015 Cowboy Entertainer.
“I never wanted to be anything but a cowboy.”
Orin Friesen was born in York, Nebraska on September 1, 1946. Orin is a cowboy of many talents as a radio broadcaster, musician, author, actor, lecturer and business manager. He grew up learning how to cowboy, working with cattle and horses. As a youth in York, NE, he was 4-H King and a member of the York Trail Riders Saddle Club. He built a radio transmitter in the early 1960’s and received a ham radio license in 1963. In 1964, Orin graduated from Henderson High School in Nebraska. He has been in broadcasting for over 50 years, beginning his career at the Bethel College and Kearney College radio stations. He transferred to Wichita State University where he earned a BA in Speech/Radio & Television. Since graduation, he has been employed at a number of radio and television stations; the vast majority of them in Kansas. His voice has been heard on KFDI in Wichita since 1977, doing his “Cowboy Hour” radio show for many years. In 1994, Orin started his first cowboy band, the Home Rangers and, in 1999, he started the Prairie Rose Wranglers. He has recorded 17 albums of cowboy music with the Home Rangers, Prairie Rose Wranglers, Diamond W Wranglers and Prairie Rose Rangers. He has performed with Michael Martin Murphey, Roy Rogers Jr., Rex Allen Jr. and fellow KCHF inductee, Barry Ward. Orin produced the Great American Cowboy at Carnegie Hall concerts in 2003 and 2004, and concerts in China in 2006. He also produced the nationally released radio show special “Music of the Wild West.” He was curator of the Hopalong Cassidy Cowboy Museum from 2003 to 2007. He is on the board of directors of Lone Chimney Films, which won the Western Heritage Award for Best Documentary from the National Cowboy Museum & Hall of Fame for “Road to Valhalla.” Orin has received many honors and accolades. In 1990, he was named the first Broadcaster of the Year for the International Bluegrass Music Association. The Academy of Western Artists made him Disc Jockey of the Year for 2002. In 2007, the Elliott School of Broadcasting at WSU honored him as Alumnus of the Year. Orin received a Distinguished Service Award from the IBMA in 2012. He is also a member of the America’s Old-Time Country Hall of Fame. In 2015, Orin received the Authentic Cowboy of the Year from the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Reenactment & Pow Wow Association. In 2014, Friesen authored the book, “Goat Glands to Ranch Hands: The KFDI Story.” Currently, he is the operations manager of the Prairie Rose Ranch and Chuckwagon, curates their Silver Screen Cowboy Museum and is the leader of their house band, the Prairie Rose Rangers. Annually, Orin produces the Western Days Festival at the Prairie Rose. He raises and trains his own horses on his Rocking Banjo Ranch in Butler County, and has worked numerous roundups and cattle drives over the years. He hosts the KFDI Radio show “Bluegrass from the Rocking Banjo Ranch.” This show was one of the first big bluegrass radio shows in the U.S. and at one time syndicated on 35 radio stations nationally. Orin is musical director for the upcoming documentary about the song “Home on the Range.” In his spare time Orin has lectured on various cowboy history topics. On November 6, 1982 he married Bekki Gardner. Orin has two sons and a daughter and a granddaughter.
Year inducted: 2015
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Barry Ward is the 2014 Cowboy Entertainer.
But the best part of a farm is a family,” from “Farm Family” on his Christmas CD.
Barry Ward was born in Dodge City, Kansas on September 26, 1953 to Leonard and Joan Ward. Raised on the family farm near Copeland, he grew up in ranching and farming. He attended Dodge City Community College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University. After college he returned to Copeland as a fourth generation farmer. In 1982, he married Dodge City resident, Victoria Schlegel and together they raised their two sons, B.J. and Hunter, and daughter, Sierra, in the house Barry grew up in. Barry served as a role model for youth when he coached both football and basketball at South Gray Junior High School in Copeland, Kansas. As a child, Barry dreamed of playing the guitar and when he was 35 years old he took his first guitar lesson from Ron Rolland in Dodge City. He began writing songs and soon sang at churches and western events. He became known as “The Landsman” due to his ties with farming and the land he cultivated being reflected in his music. Over the years he has been a regular performer at the Fidelity State Bank Dodge City Days Breakfast. He sang at the “Home on the Range” production by the Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association celebrating the Kansas 150th anniversary in Wichita. He has entertained at the Kansas State Fair. In 2007, Barry was commissioned by the City of Greensburg to write “Up From the Debris” for the grand re-opening of the City after a devastating tornado. In 2008, Barry decided to pursue a full-time career as a musical entertainer, and moved with his wife, Victoria, to a ranch in Elbert, Colorado where he set up his production company Flying W Productions. He has performed in 22 states and two foreign countries, including the at 2002 Olympics in Utah and, in 2003, at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Barry was 2008 Male Vocalist in the Western Division of the Gospel Music Association. He was the first western entertainer to perform in Cameroon, Africa in 2010. Barry was named the 2013 Western Music Association Male Performer of the Year. His recording of “Eli Crow” written by the late Paul Hendel garnered him the Will Rogers Award as 2012 Song of the Year from the Academy of Western Artists. Several of his songs were included in the 2014 Kansas Cowboy CD released by the Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association. In 2014 the closing credits of the documentary The Great American Wheat Harvest featured his song “Harvest in the Fall.” His CD Lonesome County Road received the CD of the Year Award from Rural Roots Music Commission.
Year inducted: 2014
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Stan Herd is the 2013 Cowboy Artist
“Always, my pictures involved the land-fields of wheat and alfalfa, crossed by country roads leading nowhere and everywhere.”
Stan Herd was born in Protection, KS in 1950. From an early age he was interested in drawing and portraying life in rural America. He attended Wichita State University on an Art scholarship. After college, Herd returned to his agricultural roots by pioneering an art form called Crop Art. His work involves manipulation of plants, soil and rock to create masterpieces on such a grand scale that they must be viewed by airplane, hilltop or another high vantage point. Herd’s Crop Art, or Earthworks, have been created around the world including England, Cuba, Australia and the United States. He has been featured in Rolling Stone, Esquire, Interview and Art Forum magazines. One of his most famous Earthworks, “Countryside,” was installed in 1994 in New York on property owned by Donald Trump. In 1994, Herd produced a book featuring his crop art. An award winning film, “Earthwork,” was released in 2010, holding its Kansas premiere in Lawrence. Along with the attention Herd has received for his Crop Art, he has been recognized for his mural works throughout the United States. Here in Dodge City he has murals on the Bank of America and National Beef buildings. Herd currently resides in Lawrence where he plans his works of art as well as his commercial commissions of Crop Art which have included Neiman Marcus, Papa John’s Pizza, TNT’s TV series “Dallas,” Absolut Vodka, Garth Brooks and U.S. News and World Report.
Year inducted: 2013
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