As time passes, stories are told less often and the memories of those in them begin to fade. The American Doorstop Project is determined to keep the memories of those who left agricultural legacies behind.
Co-founders Jody Lamp and Melody Dotson started the American Doorstop Project with the mission of sharing the stories of those who played significant roles in American agriculture throughout history. Among them are three Nebraska men — and a horse.
Those who have not already seen the women’s documentary, Born to Rein, will have the opportunity to catch it during the KNEB Farm and Ranch Expo on Friday and Saturday at the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds in Mitchell.
Lamp and Dotson will be showing the documentary at the 21st Century Equipment booth, in addition to selling copies of the DVD, posters and commemorative guides. Admission and parking for the Expo are free.
Born to Rein tells the story of John A. Nerud of Minatare, and Marion and Jack Van Berg, a father and son from the Columbus and Grand Island area. The film was released in 2019, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first Triple Crown, won by Sir Barton in 1919.
Lamp became interested in Sir Barton’s story after opening up a public relations and marketing business at Billings Livestock in Billings, Montana. She learned a son of Sir Barton’s was once sold there.
“I thought it was crazy that this trip crown winner had offspring this far out west,” said Lamp, who now lives in Mitchell. “I didn’t realize he was part of the U.S. Army Remount Service at Fort Robinson.”
When Lamp met Dotson in 2012, she told her she had a horse story to tell but it needed to come out in 2019.
“As we got closer to getting the book done and developed, we also wanted to put a spotlight on a gentleman from the area,” said Lamp, referencing Nerud.
He was born near lake Minatare on Feb. 8, 1913. He began racing horses at the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds – and he was good at it. He was training for National Hall of Famers by 1948 and inducted into the National Museum of Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1972.
He is one of the co-founders of the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic, but despite being a legend in the racing world he was all but forgotten in the state he called home, Lamp said.
“Until we made this film.”
The Van Bergs were also accomplished when it came to thoroughbreds. Marion Van Berg, born in Aurora in 1896, was on of the nation’s leading trainers and owners. He was the trainer of record of almost 1,5000 winners, according to the producers. He was the first inductee of the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame and was later inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
His son, Marion, began as a stable hand and followed in his father’s footsteps. He worked up until his death at the age of 81, at which time he was ranked fourth in the nation for all-time wins. There were 6,523 of them resulting in a purse earning of nearly $86 million.
Lamp said that they included as much as they could in the 83-minute film, but made the decision to write the commemorative guide to add to it.
“If we wanted to put in everything that we knew, it would have been the length of Gone with the Wind,” Lamp said, laughing. “These men accomplished records in the industry that still exist today ... they’re almost the most famous trainers in North America for what they accomplished.”
People can learn more about Born to Rein by stopping by the 21st Century Equipment Booth at the KNEB Farm and Ranch Expo, or at borntorein.com.