?We are very excited to be part of the KHSRA schedule this year and hope that it will be an ongoing partnership,? Prieb said. ?The community support to bring this event to Canton has been one of the primary reasons Canton was selected to host the event along with our central location.?
Support for the event has included donations of money and sweat equity to make improvements at the arena, which annually hosts the McPherson County Fair Rodeo in July as well as a number of other rodeo-related events throughout the year.
Improvements included building an additional arena to the east of existing Tom Miller Arena, which will allow the high school and junior high rodeos to run concurrently, upgrading electrical systems and adding stall space.
Area oil producers played a big part in the effort to raise the funds for the project, along with a number of other area businesses and individuals.
The arena is owned and maintained by the McPherson County Fair Board Association. Prieb said the fair board is pleased the facilities will be used for a youth event of this caliber.
Hosting the event is a natural fit for the Canton community, which has a long association with rodeos and rodeo-related activities. The McPherson County Fair is celebrating its 65th year in 2013, and a rodeo has been a featured event each of those years.
The fairgrounds arena has jackpot roping the last Friday of every month May through September, barrel-racing competitions and holds practice roping every Friday throughout the season.
The area has also produced a number of rodeo participants over the years, including several area students who are currently competing in the junior high and high school rodeo association and are expected to appear at the Canton event.
Rylin Rouse, 11, a sixth-grade student at Canton-Galva Middle School, will be competing in barrel racing, ribbon roping and pole bending. She is excited to have the rodeo held in Canton?equating it to competing in a home football or basketball game.
?It?s exciting because I have lots of friends and family in the area and they can come and see what I do,? Rylin said. ?I?m also familiar with the arena. The new arena is beautiful.?
This is Rylin?s first year competing in the KHSRA?s junior high division, but she has been competing in rodeo events since she was 5.
Her favorite event is barrel racing. She said she and her barrel horse, Darlin, are ?really good friends.? Rylin said rodeo has taught her a lot about animals as she takes responsibility for taking care of Darlin. She?s also made a lot of friends on the KHSRA circuit.
Rylin?s mother, Heidi Rouse, herself a competition barrel racer, said rodeo is a great family activity and just as valuable in teaching life lessons as any other competitive sport.
?The kids learn good sportsmanship, and they all encourage each other,? Heidi Rouse said. ?They learn discipline and how to take on responsibility as they take care of their animals. It?s a lot of work. There are always chores to do, but it?s a wonderful activity,?
Rouse is pleased that Canton will be hosting the rodeo and said it is a wonderful opportunity for families who might be considering rodeo to come out and experience what it is about.
Supplying the stock for the event will be another local connection, JC Rodeo Co. from Roxbury. JC Rodeo Co. has gained a national reputation for its quality stock and is a frequent stock supplier at rodeos across the region.
The company is the stock supplier for the McPherson County Fair Rodeo each year, which is a CPRA sanctioned event.
While many of the events at a junior high and high school rodeo will be the same as professional rodeos?including rough stock events?spectators will see a number of events unique to youth rodeo.
Options for cowgirls are expanded over the professional circuit and include, in addition to barrel racing, roping events, pole bending, goat tying and cutting.
High school rodeo
Rodeo is not a sport recognized by the Kansas State High School Activities Association and is managed by the KHSRA. However, just like KSHSAA activities, students must be academically eligible to compete. Participants do not have to attend a school with a rodeo team to compete in sanctioned events.
And, just like other high school athletes, high school cowboys and cowgirls are eligible for college scholarships in their sport with a number of community and four-year colleges sponsoring rodeo teams that compete on the college circuit.
Students belonging to the KHSRA pay dues and entry fees to participate in sanctioned events, are responsible for their own horses and other equipment, and for transportation to and from rodeos.
Cowboys and cowgirls earn points at each rodeo to gain a spot in the state championship rodeo held in Topeka. High-point competitors at the state rodeo will advance to the 2013 National High School Championship Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., as part of the Kansas team.
Champions at the Canton event will receive buckles for the All-Around Boys and bracelets for the All-Around Girls.
To learn more about the Kansas High School Rodeo Association, go to KHSRA.net or on Facebook. Local contacts for the Canton rodeo are Prieb and Vance Lacy.