It’s just impossible to take the boy out of a cowboy.
Living proof is lifetime cowboy Ron Snoddy, active member of the Burlingame Saddle Club.
He’ll be 77-year-old in just a few weeks, but age is no detriment for a real cowboy.
Snoddy is entered in the bull riding in the first performance of the 48th annual Burlingame Rodeo Friday evening, May 18, at Burlingame.
“I’m doing it in memory and honor of the Burlingame Saddle Club members who started and have continued sponsoring the rodeo,” Snoddy said.
“Ron was one of the saddle club members when the Burlingame Rodeo began,” said Pat Rusher, active club leader now.
“I can’t begin to name everybody who has helped through the years,” Rusher admitted. “Ron along with Pete Stout and John Pickett are the only ones left from when the rodeo started. Paul Lang had been heavily involved from the beginning, but he passed away about a year ago.”
“I competed in lots of rodeos in the late ’50s and early ‘60s,” Snoddy reflected. “Just the bull riding, no other events, always loved the bull riding.”
Collecting a number of payback checks, Snoddy claimed, “I paid for lots of gas for the other cowboys, but I had as much fun as anybody going up and down the road. There’s nothing like being a rodeo bull rider.”
Like many, after getting married and starting a family, Snoddy was forced to step away from rodeo. “I had to make a living and wasn’t able to do that with rodeo. I became a carpenter as my profession,” Snoddy said.
Living in Topeka, Snoddy was always in the bleachers at rodeos in driving distance throughout the years. “Watching those other cowboys ride just doesn’t compare to getting down on the bull and nodding for the gate yourself,” he insisted.
When Snoddy retired from carpentry nearly a dozen years ago, he started a cowboy hat business. Circle R Hat Company is owned by Snoddy and his wife Bette.
“Selling hats at rodeos and bull ridings is the perfect fit for me,” Snoddy declared.
“It’s great being back closer to the real rodeo action, talking to all of the cowboys, watching the bull riding up close,” Snoddy said.
Just about anybody who’s attended a rodeo or bull riding throughout the Midwest in recent years has seen Snoddy’s hat stand. “I’m booked up solid with about 30 events on the calendar from now until October,” he said.
Snoddy’s hat clientele are generally not the rodeo contestants, but usually the spectators. Those who want to have a more personal feel of the rodeo lifestyle.
“I just sell straw hats, the working man’s kind. There are about 17 different styles, but I keep the price range simple $20, $25 and $30.
“The $30 hats are popular because they’re similar to what bull riders wear now. The Bandera hats at $25 are also appealing to certain rodeo fans,” Snoddy continued.
His hat supplier anticipates Snoddy’s call on Monday mornings to replenish the 30 hats he’ll sold sell on an average weekend. That totals to nearly 800 hats sold to rodeo and bull riding fans annually.
High Stakes Rodeo Company owned by Jake Stubbs at Drexel, Missouri, is supplying the livestock for the Burlingame Rodeo this year. “I sell hats at a lot of Jake’s rodeos so we’re good friends. I’m be grazing some of his yearling bucking horse prospects in a pasture across the road this summer,” Snoddy said.
“When we were talking about honoring past Burlingame Saddle Club members at the rodeo, Jake came up with the idea of me getting in the bull riding. That really excited me,” Snoddy said.
“Jake said he has just the right bull for an old cowboy to make a great ride at the rodeo,” Snoddy revealed. “I really don’t know how tough the bull will be, but it’s not going to be a pup I’m sure of that.”
Actually, riding on a real bucking bull as a more mature cowboy is something Snoddy’s done before. “I got on a bucking bull at Club Rodeo in Wichita a few years ago,” he remembered. “I borrowed a bull rope and equipment from a younger rider who helped me get down and pulled the rope.”
Eight seconds is sometimes an awfully long time. “That bull was just my kind jumped and kicked out across the pen. I thought I was going to make the whistle, but just came up a couple seconds shy, doggone it.”
For a cowboy his age, Snoddy considers himself in good shape. “I get up every morning and keep the place up. We don’t have horses anymore, but there’s lots of work to do. Oh I get a bit short winded sometimes from smoking all those years, but I quit that a long time ago,” he said.
“I’ll have to borrow equipment again, but I’m getting ready for the bull riding Friday night at Burlingame. Depending on how that goes, I’m likely to get down in the chute again Saturday,” Ron Snoddy proclaimed. “It’s just impossible to get that adrenalin to ride bulls out of my system no matter how old I get.”