*This story was featured in the Hastings Tribune on July 16, 2016.
BLADEN — The Webster County Fair and Rodeo and 4-H club will unveil a memorial for a longtime member of the rodeo community Saturday night.
The memorial — a new PA announcer’s booth nestled inside the rodeo arena — is in memory of Terry Plambeck, who died of cancer on Feb. 22, 2015, at age 49.
The 10-by-24-foot wooden structure overlooks the rodeo arena in Bladen and is aptly named “Terry’s Skybox.”
“When we were talking about it (the memorial) and everything, it was kind of like Terry is looking over us,” said Troy Bonifas, chairman of the Webster County Rodeo.
The structure took about two months to build. After it was finished, it was then lifted into its place overlooking the arena.
The new PA booth was entirely constructed by volunteers who are friends and associates of the Plambeck family. The old one was in need of renovations, Bonifas said.
“It was time for a new one,” he said. “Terry always talked about sitting up there and how that was the best seat in the house. That was his dream for the rodeo arena — to have the best.”
The funds for the memorial were raised by Webster County 4-H’ers, who organized a barbecue supper, silent auction and dance to celebrate Plambeck’s life in 2015. During the event, the community raised around $21,000 and settled on the plan to build the booth in his honor.
The booth is a reminder of Plambeck’s impact on the rodeo and the people in the Bladen community.
“The 4-H and FFA programs benefited from his hard work, vision and support, and they wanted to give back to him in supporting this event in cooperation with his fellow members of the agriculture association to put a lasting memorial on his hard work and dedication to the fair, the rodeo and the youth of our country,” said Dewey Lienemann, Nebraska extension educator in Webster County.
Terry was widely regarded as a key player in making the county fair and rodeo a success for nearly two decades.
“He was the center point for the rodeo for 17 years,” Bonifas said. “Not having him there (last year), I felt lost. Everybody felt lost. The whole fair board felt lost. He was the go-to guy.”
The Webster County Fair and Rodeo runs through Saturday with the unveiling of the booth scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday during the rodeo festivities.
Though Plambeck is still dearly missed, Bonifas said the community is happy about the opportunity to honor his legacy.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “But we’re going to be proud.”