Top-tier entertainment and cowboy competition will ride into Hays for the 46th annual Fort Hays State University Rodeo this weekend, April 20-22.
Competition will include nearly 600 cowboys and cowgirls from some of the nation’s most competitive colleges and universities across Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. One of professional rodeo’s top funnymen will perform as well.
Justin Rumford, son of Fort Hays rodeo coach Bronc Rumford, will travel cross country to be in Hays during the Friday- and Saturday-night performances.
“Justin is one of the hottest things in professional rodeo today when it comes to comedy entertainment,” Rumford said. “He has worked some of the top rodeos in the nation and will be in Hays coming off appearances in Cave Creek, Ariz., and Pocatello, Idaho.”
Also new this year are six Priefert bucking chutes.
“We will see if modern technology can outlast the chutes the club built in 1964,” Rumford said.
The rodeo club was able to attain and install the new chutes, thanks to the hard work of Rumford, its members and university support.
“The Department of Agriculture has been instrumental in renovating our grounds because they paid for many of the improvements to our arena, including the new bucking chutes,” Rumford said.
“The club has been working hard for a few weeks doing many arena repairs. I bet people won’t remember a time when the grounds have looked this good.We also have President Hammond to thank, because without him, none of this would be possible. He is a visionary and can see how things will work together. We’re really grateful for that.”
The new chutes will allow for a safer environment for the livestock, as well as for the cowboys competing on them.
Featuring the events of bareback riding, calf roping, breakaway roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, goat tying, barrel racing, team roping and bull riding, a variety of talents will flood the arena.
Special events of the infamous Wild Ride on Saturday night and ribbon roping on Friday are bound to entertain as well. Both events require cowboy skill and costume creativity to win.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the short-go, or championship round, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Slack will be at 10 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. With so many entries, only a fraction can be put into the performances, so slack is when all the others compete. It is free of charge to the public.
A cowboy church service, hosted by Dale Hirschman, will be at 10 a.m. Sunday at the arena. Everyone is welcome to attend.
“I know there are a lot of churches in Hays,” Rumford said, “but Dale offers the experience of a different kind of worship service.”
Hirschman has been preaching at the college rodeo cowboy church services since 1980. His preaching relates the gospel to people’s lives today, and the atmosphere of his services is sure to be full of Jesus Christ and cowboy spirit.
The rodeo will be at the Doug Phillip Arena on Golf Course Road, just off the U.S. 183 bypass in Hays.
Tickets for the rodeo are $8 in advance and $12 at the gate for adults, $5 in advance and $8 at the gate for ages 14-18 and free for children 13 and under and for Fort Hays students with a Tiger Card. They are available at the Student Service Center in the Memorial Union; Orscheln’s, 2900 Broadway; and Vanderbilt’s, 2900 Vine.
“This year’s rodeo will offer a good, competitive opportunity for all the college athletes and solid entertainment for our audience,” Rumford said. “We hope to see you there.”