Goats will be roped and steers will be wrestled by some of the top teen cowboys and cowgirls starting Thursday at the Kansas High School Rodeo Association’s State Finals at the Kansas Star Casino.
The Wichita area will welcome 140 high school students from Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma as they compete for a chance to represent their state in the National High School Finals Rodeo in July in Gillette, Wyo.
This is the first time the state finals will be held in the Wichita area; they previously have been held in Topeka.
“The venue here is much more attractive,” said Dusty Turner, a southwest district director for the association. “And the community seems to be much more supportive of the rodeo here than the support and interest we had in Topeka.”
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Larry Steckline, president of KWLS radio, which is sponsoring the rodeo, said attendance expectations are greater here.
“We are hoping for at least 1,000 people each day, and we’re expecting even more for the finals on Saturday,” Steckline said. “This is a more centrally located, metro area. It’s going to be exciting.”
The cowboys and cowgirls will compete in about a dozen different events, including barrel racing, goat roping, team roping, tie-down roping, bareback bronc riding, steer wrestling, breakaway roping, pole bending and saddle bronc riding.
“Practically any event you’ve heard of about rodeos will be here,” Steckline said. “There is lots of excitement for these events to be held here. It’s going to be fantastic, and I am excited to have it here in our part of the country.”
Those competing or watching are asked to wear pink on Thursday for “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Day” and black on Friday to show support for U.S. troops.
Also on Thursday, the association will host the Youth Education Summer Socialization program of The Arc of Sedgwick County. Students will be brought into the arena to meet the contestants.
On Saturday, the top 15 year-end contestants will compete during the short go finals.
The weekend will come to an end on Sunday with cowboy church at 9:30 a.m. in the main arena, followed by the awards presentation.
Spectators can watch the rodeo action for $15 a day on Thursday and Friday and $25 for the finals on Saturday. A weekend pass is $50.
More information, as well as results following the rodeo, can be found at www.khsra.net.