Interested in preparing a story of the annual convention of the Sandhills Cattle Association, a visit was made to the event location at the Cherry County fairgrounds. Going to the gate that had been used the past two Sundays, it was found to be closed by gates with a chain closure. A gate was opened and entry made to the grounds. Making my way towards a place to lock my bicycle, within a few moments, Katie Kubacki, the association secretary/manager quickly approached and said that registration was required to attend. My response was a request for a press pass as I was there to write a story. The response was that there would be no press pass available.
With registration $35 for all activities, there was no way this would be paid just to walk around and also talk to some people. The association representative then insisted upon my leaving. Upon walking toward the exit, a decision was made to talk to the president of the association board. They board was meeting at the 4-H building so a stop was made there. After being asked to leave that building during the board meeting, my purpose was explained and departure made. A wait then ensued at a picnic table in the shade, a short distance from the front door of the structure.
There was no effort made by the association board to get my view.
A time later, Tim Shaw, president of the association, was seen and approached to ask about the outcome of my request. The response was that no press passes are issued. When asked why, the reply was that they just don’t issue any. When asked again, and since he was president, why couldn’t a reason be given? There was no reason, just a position. When asked if the board voted on this, his reply was no.
The reason for asking for and hoping to get a press pass was based upon two particular items, and another applicable item. One point was that four articles had been written for the association newsletter (Sandhills Cattle News) and not a single penny had been received. Also, an article promoting an association activity had been published in the Grant County News. It was also pointed out that an offer to be a volunteer for the convention had been made to staff at the association office (weeks earlier), and that there had been absolutely no response. None of this made a bit of difference.
He left and I went a few feet to the picnic table and sat for a minute or two, waiting to say hello to an acquaintance talking to a vendor just inside the exhibitors building.
Then along came another member of the board, with whom I was familiar. There were asked about the decision. My efforts in regards to the association were again mentioned. A comment was made that they did not understand why such a refusal for a pass was made despite my efforts to promote the association.
During this discussion, another member of the board, Shane Kime (vice-president) arrived and interjected himself into the conversation. He insisted upon my leaving immediately. When told that I was conversing with someone else, that did not matter and he repeated his demand, also noting that it was a group decision that no press pass be issued.
The other board member did have a question about the manner of my arrival. There apparently was something said that conveyed that it was an effort to get into the event without registering. My explanation was that the registration desk would have been my first stop. My bicycle would have been locked up at the same place that it had been on the two previous visits. The association staff person making any accusation was completely in error.
This association member did mention that the board did agree with the decision. An explanation was also given that it was not my intention to attend any of the activities such as the evening supper or entertainment.
By this time, Kime was again insisting on my departure. He did also mention that no press had been invited. Get on your bike and leave, he said, or I would be removed. That word removed was used more than once. When a comment was made that I would like to say hello to my acquaintance, Kime said to call them on the phone. Upon my saying that no phone was owned, that made no difference. He repeated again that “now” was the time to leave. He was belligerent, insistent, and repeatedly threatening my removal.
My bike was retrieved and while walking towards the exit, Kime actually followed me part of the way, until beyond the concourse of the fair-ground buildings being used for convention events.
It was quite indicative the association board did not welcome someone that has freely promoted their organization, nor did they show any appreciation for those efforts. They were rigid in adhering to payment of the registration fee.
No payment of the registration fee would occur by me because the expense would not be reimbursed, and honestly it would have not been affordable. Also, it did not make sense to pay this amount just to look at seven “pen of three” cattle displays with only black Angus. It did not show any diversity representing the different breeds within the sandhills country. Why pay to walk among vendor booths selling services which had no personal interest or need? The only reason to do so would be include a sentence or two to an article, to add perspective. With hot weather, my intention - anyway - was to have left the event before mid-afternoon.
It is worth noting that in every advertisement heard or seen for this convention, there was never any mention that entrants needed to pay the $35 registration.
Everyone was welcome to attend the convention, association representatives repeatedly indicated with media promotions. This was obviously, however, only those that paid the demanded entry fee. Someone who just wanted to write a report on activities was in no way welcome, but, as experienced, instead was treated quite rudely by some people of the association.