Nearly 600 cowboys and cowgirls from colleges and universities across Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri will pull into the city of Hays for the Fort Hays State University Rodeo, beginning Friday, April 15, and running through Sunday, April 17. Add in alumni, coaches, families and friends, and that 600 will translate into 1,500 to 2,000 people stampeding the streets of Hays.
The rodeo will be at the Doug Phillip Arena on Golf Course Road, just off of the U.S. 183 bypass in Hays.
Featuring the events of bareback riding, calf roping, breakaway roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, goat tying, barrel racing, team roping and bull riding, a variety of talents will flood the arena, with around 30 of FHSU's own competing in all but two events.
FHSU's Cody Pratt, Monte Vista, Colo., senior, is currently third in the region in steer wrestling, a mere five points from qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo, which takes the top two competitors in each event of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association's 11 regions.
Pratt's steer wrestling season record includes third-place finishes at the Pratt Community College Rodeo and at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Rodeo, fourth place at the Garden City Community College Rodeo and, most recently, winning the Fort Scott Community College Rodeo.
Samantha Tenpenny, Topeka freshman, has also been a strong competitor for FHSU. She spent all fall in the shadow of the short-go, or final round, coming just 0.2 seconds or less from qualifying in goat tying at four rodeos before making the cut in Garden City. She also made the short-go at the Kansas State University Rodeo in breakaway roping.
Also a powerful force, Adam Stegman, Spearville senior, and his partner, Monte Snider from Dodge City Community College, have held their own in team roping. At the Colby Community College Rodeo, they stopped the clock quickly enough to qualify for the short-go, but a broken barrier added 10 seconds to their time. Stegman and Snider were 0.2 seconds from the short-go at the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Rodeo, leaving the pair in the "crying hole," as the infamous 11th place spot is called. At KSU, the pair was only a couple holes out of the final round. The two finally broke the ice in Fort Scott and are hoping to do the same in Hays.
Other FHSU competitors who have qualified for the short-go this season are Jordan Sammons, Plevna sophomore, in bull riding; Jennifer Sherman, Brule, Neb., senior, in breakaway roping; and Katrina Van Diest, Nowata, Okla., graduate student, in breakaway roping and goat tying.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the short-go, or championship round, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Slack will be at 10 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. With so many entries, only a fraction can be put into the performances, so slack is when all the others compete. It is free of charge.
A costume ribbon roping, which tests a cowboy's and cowgirl's teamwork and athleticism while producing laughs, is planned for Friday night.
"One has to rope a calf with a ribbon on its tail, and the other one has to get the ribbon off the tail and run across the finish line," said Bronc Rumford, rodeo coach.
Teams will do this while wearing the costumes of choice.
Saturday's performance will feature the infamous "Wild Ride," in which cowboys ride a bucking horse in costume, and the winner is whoever makes the wildest ride. FHSU's rodeo has seen a variety of entries, including Victor E. Tiger (the FHSU mascot) and Nintendo's Mario and Luigi (at the same time) among other creative and curious costumes.
A Cowboy Church service, hosted by Dale Hirschman, will be at 10 a.m. Sunday at the arena. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Tickets for the rodeo are $8 in advance and $10 at the gate for adults, $5 in advance and $8 at the gate for ages 14 to 18, and free for children 13 and under and for FHSU students with a Tiger Card. They are available at the Student Service Center in the Memorial Union on the FHSU campus, Orscheln's, 2900 Broadway, and Vanderbilt's, 2900 Vine.
"The rodeo will be full of lots of entertainment, horses and action," Rumford said. "It would be a great place to spend some time that weekend."
For more information, contact Rumford at 785-628-4689 or 620-694-0380 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.