Light rain didn’t keep the crowds away from the 40th annual Kaw Valley Rodeo last Saturday at Cico Park. Families from all across Kansas came to share in the western entertainment of bull riding, barrel racing and much more.
But to many, the Kaw Valley Rodeo is much more than entertainment, it’s a way of life.
“Rodeo is an integral part of agriculture,” Lindsey Reister, a member of the ticketing and advertising committee, said. “Kansas is a very agricultural state and (rodeo) is apart of our heritage and what people identify with when they think of Kansas.”
Over the past 40 years, that heritage and tradition has only continued to grow. Reister has come to the rodeo for the past five years and volunteered for the past two.
“You see a lot of families with a lot of young kids come through,” she said. “It’s a generation thing and it’s really cool to watch.”
Many travel from across the state to attend the rodeo. Kaley Clark, of Wichita, and Gracie Travaille, of Augusta, along with their families have been traveling together to rodeos across Kansas for more than 10 years.
“I’ve been coming for quite awhile, since I was little,” Travallie said with a smile. “We grew up together watching (rodeos) and I think it’s fun.”
According to Clark, the “rodeo kind of runs in our family and it’s a tradition to travel and go to different rodeos.”
Clark’s aunt passed away in 2011, and it was she who started the tradition in their families of traveling to watch rodeos.
“I just try to keep it going,” Clark said.
For many, rodeo embodies values and characteristics of a certain way of life.
“So many people become involved at such a young age and it just stays with them,” Gwyn Fuqua, a Kaw Valley Association board member, said. “It continues to the next generation … and hopefully they will be doing the same thing that we are doing here tonight.”
Abbey Pomeroy, Miss Rodeo Kansas 2015, said, “rodeo is the essence of the American West.”
“The values and characteristics that rodeo promotes is so fundamental to our culture,” Pomeroy said. “Those values of respect, responsibility and determination.”
2014 Phillipsburg Rodeo Queen Brooke Boyington, junior in family studies and human services, said that great role models can be found in the rodeo community.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have always looked up to a lot of the rodeo queens as wonderful role models,” Boyington said. “That’s why I wanted to become one.”
According to Fuqua, the best way to become a part of the rodeo community is to just show up.
“You don’t have to grow up on a farm to participate,” Fuqua said. “Someone can come in from the outside and be involved here and learn how this works.”
Pomeroy urged people to “just go. I think people will find themselves greatly pleased about how much fun they will have at the rodeo.”
Photos from the Rodeo:
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(Photos by Emily Starkey | The Collegian)