Spectators filling the bleachers, on the edge of their seats, anticipating and living-within ever bit of the cowboy, cowgirl and livestock action from the arena floor.
That’s what keeps rodeo alive, thriving “America’s Number 1 Sport,” and the bull riding often the most anticipated event.
No revealed number of decades, but when the Western athletes come to Strong City, one can be certain these ladies have been and will be in attendance.
“I love rodeo. I love everything about the sport and never miss one when it comes to town,” proclaimed Shirley Lincoln.
“I’ve been to all of the rodeos. What I really love the most is the bull riding. There’s nothing like a good bull ride,” exclaimed Kay Klenk.
Likewise, their neighbors Sharon Dupuis and Dorothy Bowers get the adrenalin flow when conversation of rodeo arises.
The Cottonwood Falls ladies have been going to the Flint Hills Rodeo since before they were even in school and won’t miss a performance if it can be helped.
When Kim and Lana Reyer and their family started their annual Flint Hills Bull Blowout at the famed rodeo arena, the Chase County cowgirls-at-heart beamed with further excitement for “their sport.”
“Those ladies live and breathe rodeo, never miss the rodeo, and are always in attendance at our bull riding,” insisted Kim Reyer, brainchild of the bull riding competition.
It’ll be the eighth annual on Saturday evening, Sept. 9, with a full slate of attractions, according to Reyer.
Brought to the arena by Reyer’s Country Store and the Reyer family’s Flint Hills Genetics bucking bull breeding program, events kick off with a barbecue at 6 o’clock.
There’ll be a mutton busting for kids, six-and-under, at 6:30, and a chicken scramble for youth 10-and-under is also on tap. A special intermission program is to feature renowned country-western entertainer Rusty Rierson.
“Most importantly will be the cowboys and the bulls,” Reyer pointed out. “Several of the best bull riders in the country are expected to challenge bulls from our breeding program along with those from Frontier Rodeo Company.”
“It’s true that spectators in the seats are what make our event such a popular success,” Reyer verified. “People like Shirley, Kay, Sharon and Dorothy who get so excited about rodeo attractions are what make the bull riding get bigger and better every year.”
With the bull riding date, September 9, circled in anticipation on each of their calendars, the Chase County Western-action womenfolk reflected rodeo action days gone by.
“I’m a full believer in all of rodeo,” Shirley repeated. “I’ve only missed a few rodeos here when I lived out of state. There are so many memories and stories.
“Oh he’s so beautiful, the little girl on the corner said when I pointed out a cowboy to her. Yep, she was right. Those cowboys are something to look at,” Shirley insisted.
A couple of world famous cowboys come to Shirley’s memory. “Casey Tibbs lived in Strong City when he was getting started, rode with the Roberts rodeo family, stayed in the boarding house there on the corner,” she related.
“The time Casey put his bronc saddle in the bathtub to break it in really got quite a stir around town,” according to Shirley.
With pleasant memories of visiting the Casey Tibbs Museum in Fort Pierre, Sought Dakota, Shirley is proud of her copy of Tibb’s “Born to Buck” movie and anticipates getting “Floating Horses – The Life of Casey Tibbs” documentary debuting next month.
Also close to Shirley’s heart is one of the times world champion Tom Ferguson competed at Strong City. “My husband came to the rodeo with me and really got upset when I was making such ado over Tom. Why not, he was the best cowboy there?”
Helping out, volunteering, at the rodeo whenever she can, committeemen offered Shirley a job “shampooing the bulls.” However, “I turned that one down,” she said.
Typically a volume rodeo ticket buyer, Shirley hosts a pre-rodeo barbecue at her place, and hands out the tickets. “When I decided not to have the cookout, the folks insisted I continue with it,” she admitted.
The upcoming Flint Hills Bull Blowout is especially anticipated by Kay Klenk. “I’ve been to all of the rodeos here, and my favorite event has always been bull riding,” she confessed.
“I’ve been to bull ridings, the best Professional Bull Riding (PBR) competitions, all over, and the one Kim and Lana Reyer have is right up there with them,” Kay said. “Their bulls and Jimmy Crowther’s stock bring in the best cowboys too; the same ones who win PBR.”
Driving past the pasture with Flint Hills Genetics bucking bred cows grazing even makes Kay’s heart skip beat.
Noting she’s seen a number of bull riders scored in the 90s, “I just love to watch a good bull ride. There’s nothing like it, really,” Kay contended. “I wouldn’t miss the opportunity.”
Sharon Dupuis went to her first Strong City rodeo when she was three-weeks-old. “It was out in the country at the Emmett Roberts’s farm. I haven’t missed many of the rodeos here, sat on a lot of bleachers,” Sharon calculated.
“E.C. Roberts used to always be the pickup man when his family was entered in the rodeo. Jimmy Barr was the announcer even that time when one of his sons was born on rodeo night,” remembered Sharon, with fond memories of earlier years riding in the rodeo parade.
Sharon recalled her brothers going with Roberts Rodeo Company to Canton, Missouri, to help set up and run the rodeo there. “They really had a great time, and loved working for the Roberts family,” Sharon said.
Following family tradition of sorts, Sharon’s son Nick has been a successful bull rider, and her daughter Angie’s husband Buck Bailey is president of the Flint Hills Rodeo Association.
Casey Tibb’s name brightens Sharon, too, as she recalled when he was featured on “This Is Your Life.” She said, “I’m going to try to get a copy of that show.”
Dorothy Bowers, Shirley’s sister, sure likes to see the cowboys and the crow. “Oh, I like the rodeo action but it’s the people who I enjoy watching, too. I always help out at the rodeo when I can,” Dorothy said.
Volunteerism is important to community event success and the cowgirl-ladies all help out selling T-shirts, watching the gate, whenever and wherever needed.
Kay Klenk best summarizes the group’s anticipation of the Flint Hills Bull Blowout, September 9, at Strong City: “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”