In 46 years, the Fort Hays State University rodeo team has never seen three days of such pleasant weather. The precipitation and chilly temperatures that typically accompany the annual rodeo were absent this year for all three days as hundreds of cowboys, cowgirls and fans flooded the grounds last weekend to enjoy good competition and quality entertainment.
“Crowds were the best they’ve been in a number of years,” rodeo coach Bronc Rumford said. “The weather was outstanding, the rodeo ran smoothly and this was the first time we had extra entertainment besides the actual competition with Justin Rumford, professional rodeo funny man.”
Justin Rumford was nominated for Comedy Act of the Year last year on the professional level. He performed both Friday and Saturday and kept the crowd on the edge of its seat with his wild and unique athleticism and creative acts.
Bucking stock was so rank, or hard to ride, that only four bull riders and only eight bareback riders made qualified rides in the long-go round to qualify for the short-go, or championship, round.
The short-go typically takes the top 10 scores or times for each event, but additional bull riders and bareback riders had to be drawn to fill the slots this time.
“The bucking stock at our rodeo was some of the rankest of all the college rodeos in our region,” Rumford said.
This year’s bucking stock was able to buck out of chutes new to the Doug Philip Arena, thanks to the support of President Edward H. Hammond and professor John Greathouse, who made the purchase of these chutes possible for the rodeo club. They had only been used once for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo last year.
“The rodeo club would like to thank Dr. Hammond and Dr. Greathouse for their dedication to and support of the rodeo program,” Rumford said.
The rodeo was nominated for Top Rodeo of the Year by the coaches in the region. Other rodeos included in the nomination were Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Kansas State University. The winning rodeo will be chosen at a later date.
During Saturday night’s performance, the first-ever Dr. Garry “Doc” Brower Memorial Scholarship was awarded, with sophomore Sam Tenpenny being the recipient of the $500.
Doc Brower and his wife, Ruby, were able to attend the rodeo and present Tenpenny with the scholarship. Brower has recently retired from being the rodeo club advisor.
Another faculty member, Mick Glaze, brought his horses and wagon to give free rides and to escort Doc and Ruby into the arena.
No Fort Hays cowboys or cowgirls came away from the rodeo with a winning buckle, but each one worked hard throughout the rodeo to keep things running smoothly.
“The hometown rodeo is always the hardest to win,” Rumford said, “plagued by bad draws and broken barriers.”
Although this year’s renovations improved the grounds tremendously, Rumford says there is still more work to be done for next year to make it even bigger and better.
“The renovations on Doug Philip Arena are not yet complete,” he said. “Construction on the announcer’s stand will begin in the fall, and next year, the grounds will look even better.”