Flint Hills Rodeo Withstands Test Of Time As Best For Family Entertainment

Entertainment takes many forms today.

Especially considering what there was for families to do more than eight decades ago. It takes considerable coordination above and beyond to attract crowds to anything nowadays.

The Flint Hills Rodeo Association has met the challenge, garnering filled bleachers every performance. It’s set for the 82nd anniversary edition, May 30 through June 1, at Strong City.

“There’ll be exciting Western action with the best livestock, contestants and unique special attractions,” according to Buck Bailey, association president.

“A jam-packed three days of festivities are lined up in conjunction with the rodeo,” Bailey said. “Special kids’ events are planned, there’s the trade show, the big rodeo parade, dances, fun for all.”

Mike Swift serves as association vice president and Jean Fillmore is secretary. Additional directors include Stacy Davis, Roy Fillmore, Angela Hatcher, Bryant Heins, Chad Holloway, Tom Jones, Shayla Lowry, Pat Swift, Carl Wagoner, and Dow Wilson.

Binion and Chase Cervi of Cervi Championship Rodeo, Greeley, Colorado, are again furnishing the world class rodeo livestock. That’ll feature many National Finals Rodeo qualifiers.

In the tradition began 82 years ago, the annual Flint Hills Rodeo at Strong City remains in the former front yard of E.C. Roberts who was instrumental in formation of the longtime Western tradition. Contestants from throughout United States will gather May 30 through June 1, for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competition.

Foremost ingredient for rodeo is livestock and contestants. “We have the best of both,” Bailey assured. “There’ll be a number of world champions and former world champion cowboys and cowgirls here this year.”

The rodeo livestock will be in a return engagement at Strong City. Started more than 60 years ago, Cervi Championship Rodeo has grown into the largest stock contractor for rodeo productions.

Mike Cervi, founder, began his rodeo career at age 14, traveling across North America. He went from the plains of Texas to the hills of Grand Prairie Alberta, Canada, serving as a rodeo clown.

Throughout the years, the Cervi family has acquired the two largest companies in the rodeo business. In 1967, they bought the renowned Beutler Brothers Rodeo Company. Then in 1974, the family purchased Billy Minick Rodeo Company, formerly owned by well-known producers Harry Knight and Gene Autry.

With the acquisitions, Cervi became the nation’s largest stock contractor being renamed Cervi Championship Rodeo of Greeley, Colorado. Currently, Cervi produces 10 of the top 50 rodeos in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

In the past decade, more than 100 head of Cervi livestock have been at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Cervi Championship Rodeo’s main goal is to produce fast and exciting rodeo with the best bucking stock available,” Bailey verified.

Binion Cervi, executive director, has experience in every aspect of rodeo production. Beginning in elementary school, Binion earned change at the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver by shining cowboy boots.

In his early teens, Binion orchestrated a top trick-riding specialty act, which he performed at rodeos all around the country.

“Today, Binion heads up the production of rodeos,” Bailey said. “Binion manages the finances, and is the face of public relations for Cervi Championship Rodeo.”

Cervi Rodeo productions feature audience appealing openings, closings and specialty acts that illustrate American patriotism and Western heritage.

Binion and Chase Cervi of Cervi Championship Rodeo, Greeley, Colorado, are again furnishing the world class livestock including many National Finals Rodeo qualifiers to the 82nd annual Flint Hills Rodeo, May 30 through June 1, at Strong City.

“These ‘little extras’ at Cervi Championship Rodeos provide fans added appreciation for the Western way of life,” Bailey guaranteed.

Chase Cervi, ranch manager and pickup man, is involved in the behind-the-scenes organization of the company.

He manages the breeding program for the company’s bucking stock and oversees the management of staff that works each rodeo. “Rodeo cowboys value their relationship with Chase and talking to him about the Cervi stock and rodeo,” Bailey said.

As a pickup man, Chase has developed the ability to anticipate moves of bucking horses and needs of bronc riders. A number of times, bronc riders have selected Chase as a pickup man to work the National Finals Rodeo.

Announcer Roger Mooney is also in a repeat performance calling the action and excitement for this year’s Flint Hills Rodeo.

Born and raised in Ellijay, Georgia, Mooney’s career began by accident in 1984. While in college, he stepped in for the scheduled rodeo announcer who became ill.

World champion all-around cowboy Gerald Roberts rides A Wild One at the Flint Hills Rodeo in the 1940s. This year’s 82nd annual rodeo is May 30 through June 1, at Strong City.

In a short time, Mooney went from being a contestant to one of the best announcers on the circuit. His announcing accolades include the National Finals Rodeo, Calgary Stampede, Circuit Finals Rodeo, and National High School Rodeo Finals.

The most diversified Western showman, Rider Kiesner, Ripley, Oklahoma, is a special attraction for this year’s Flint Hills Rodeo. He’s a trick roper, trick rider, rodeo clown and bullfighter all in one.

Kiesner grew up in a rodeo entertainment family. As an adult, the talented all-around cowboy entertainer struck out on his own.

Since, Rider Kiesner has worked Cavalia, world-wide touring equestrian show; the National Finals Rodeo; Cheyenne Frontier Days; and many more.

Rodeo weekend schedule features evening performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 o’clock. The Flint Hills Rodeo Museum highlighting the Roberts family and rodeo history is to be open along with a Western Trade Show.

Thursday, May 30, is Family Night with children 12 and under admitted free. The first 200 kids through the east gate are to receive a free hot dog and chocolate milk.

Friday, May 31, is designated Military Night with special admittance and recognition for all who’ve served in the military.

Kids Buckaroo Buckarette Rodeos begin at 6 o’clock, nightly and each performance will have kids calf scrambles and mutton busting.

Dances will follow Friday and Saturday’s rodeo performances with the Whiskey River Band and the Dirty Bourbon Band entertaining, respectively. Rodeo ticket holders have free admission to the dance.

The rodeo parade Saturday beginning at 2 o’clock in Cottonwood Falls will end at the Strong City arena. All have been welcomed to participate or bring chairs and watch along the parade route.

An additional rodeo weekend feature is the Prairie Talk set for Pioneer Bluffs, historic Flint Hills ranch at Matfield Green. Shannan Hauser, rodeo champion Gerald Roberts’ granddaughter, will share Roberts family stories and photos Friday afternoon, May 31, at 2:30.

Details about the 82nd annual Flint Hills Rodeo are available at www.flinthillsrodeo.org.