Committee of town officials and chamber members submit proposal for Cowboy Hall of Fame
By Kay Braddock
Terry is one of 10 communities under consideration of becoming the permanent host for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center.
Proposals were submitted to the Cowboy Hall of Fame board of directors last month.
A committee of business owners and local officials initially got the ball rolling on the proposal project in mid-summer. From there the group sought the help of the Eastern Plains Economic Development Corporation.
“That’s what we’re here for,” said Eastern Plains EDC Executive Director Jason Rittal. “Nobody else in our five-county region was applying. When I was approached, that was the first thing I asked.”
In fact, Terry’s proposal to become the hall’s location site was backed by members of the five-county EDC board, said Rittal. The 31-page proposal included an additional 20 pages of letters of support. Among those were letters from Dawson, Fallon and Carter counties. Other letters backing the project came from local business owners, non-profit groups and boards.
“It’s going to boil down to what their review committee is looking for,” Rittal said, referring to the upcoming decision expected by the hall’s board of directors in November.
The list of 10 communities will be reduced to several. Those communities that make the cut will then undergo an on-site visit. A final decision on the building site is expected the end of November.
“‘Why not Terry?’ Is what I thought and I think that’s what everyone else thought too,” Rittal said.
Listing the benefits
Terry’s western heritage was one of several factors listed within the proposal explaining why the “friendly little town below the badlands” would make a promising location for the cowboy museum. Western heritage attractions already in existence include: The historical XIT Ranch headquarters located north of Terry, the works of pioneer photographer Evelyn Cameron on display, the famous Terry Badlands and a number of centennial ranches that have continued operation.
Terry’s easy access to Interstate 94 and secondary Highway 253, which serves as corridor for the state’s northern communities and Canada, is another added benefit addressed in the proposal.
“Depending on the property they acquire, it could be the very first thing you see when you come into Terry,” Rittal said.
Although no specific site was recommended, several sites were suggested. Those sites included property east of Terry High School, as well as deeded property north of 4-Corners and land owned by the Town of Terry south of Murn Park.
Depending on the needs of the hall, other sites within Terry could also be considered, Rittal said.
Terry’s size may prove advantageous when juxtaposed among its larger competitors.
“If they’re looking to really stand out in the community, they would stand out in Terry more,” Rittal said, noting the attractions offered by other communities may actually serve as a diversion from the cowboy museum. “It would in essence be the main attraction (in Terry).”
The hall would also blend well with what is already offered locally.
“Pretty much anybody who was interested in heritage would stop in, not only at the Cowboy Hall of Fame, but they would go see Evelyn Cameron, stop at the museum,” Rittal said. “Everything just fits in.”
According to a press release from the MCHF & WHC communities interested in the project are: Eastern Plains Economic Development Corporation, Terry; Madison County Economic Development Corporation, Madison County; Miles City Chamber of Commerce, Miles City ; Missouri Valley Development Corporation, Wolf Point; Montana Event Center, Huntley; Musselshell County Commissioners, Roundup; Park County Extension Service, Livingston; PhillCo Economic Growth Council, Malta; Ryan Hamilton on behalf of the Community of Big Sky; and Sweet Grass County Commissioners, Big Timber.