The Chanute Bit & Spur Saddle Club is getting applause, far from the stands of its arena.
The club, which organizes and promotes the annual Chanute Rodeo, received awards for Best New Rodeo and Best Grounds from the United Rodeo Association (URA). The award for Best New Rodeo is voted on by the top 20 rodeo contestants in a Midwestern nine-state region. The award for Best Grounds is voted on exclusively by the barrel racers who compete in the URA.
The awards were presented at the URA’s Finals Rodeo held in Topeka November 4.
“This is the first year we’ve won an award. We finally got recognized for all the hard work that goes into it,” Saddle Club member Tracey Cook said.
This was the fifth year of the Chanute Rodeo after a significant hiatus, but the first year the event had been affiliated with the URA. The club switched associations because the URA is a collectively-owned association, whereas the previous association was privately-owned.
The change proved to be popular. This year, the Chanute rodeo had 267 contestants compared to approximately 140 in previous years.
Saddle Club members Kayla Paz and Cook are already hard at work on next year’s rodeo. It takes a great combined effort from club members, sponsors, city and county governments, and volunteers to coordinate the event. Neosho County paved South Katy Ave, the road that leads to the arena, and they completed ditch-work to keep the grounds from flooding. The Neosho County Community College baseball team volunteers as well.
“Without the college baseball team, we couldn’t do it,” Cook said, adding that the event is held each year for the love of the sport and community.
“We love rodeo. We love spending time with our horses, with the contestants that come from all over. It’s just rodeo life,” Cook said. “They bring their campers in, they stay, they bring in a lot of revenue. It’s a big deal for the community.”
The rodeo is held during the same weekend as Artist Alley, purposefully to provide evening entertainment for the community and visitors. As successful as the rodeo has been, the club is always looking for ways to improve it. There are several ideas in the works, including billboards around the arena for sponsors and events to be advertised. Cook has great ambitions moving forward.
“Now our goal is to win Rodeo of the Year,” she said. “Last year the winner was from Iowa, and we want to take it from them.”
For more information on the rodeo or Chanute Bit & Spur Saddle Club, email email@example.com or follow the club on Facebook.