Fall had set in, and the bulls were sure feeling their oats, but it all added to the excitement making a record topping Flint Hills Bull Blowout at Strong City.
“The cool weather made us concerned whether we’d get a crowd, but people brought their jackets and came in record numbers to our fifth annual jackpot bull riding competition,” said Kim Reyer, event coordinator.
Both businesses are owned by Reyer and his wife, Lana, in partnership with son Wyatt, daughters Jenna Gibb and Kelsey Spain, sons-in-law Kyle Gibb and Adam Spain, and grandchildren Karlie and Tate Gibb and Lakin Spain. A benefit barbecue supper was a new added attraction this year, and spectators arrived in ample time with all family in tow, from youngest in the cradle, teenagers, baby boomers and most mature all included, for the competition sponsored by Reyer’s Country Store, just across the highway, and Flint Hills Genetics, a bucking bull breeding program.
They were all involved in seeing that the evening went without a hitch for the in excess of 1,250 people, from more than a 200-mile radius of the Chase County community, that were seated in the famous Flint Hills Rodeo bleachers.
Kickoff was officially 7 o’clock, but professional rodeo announcer Troy Goodridge, Fort Scott, got action underway about 30 minutes early as 35 little cowboys and cowgirls rode in the mutton busting sheep riding competition.
There were some bruises, and more than a few tears, but nobody was hurt too bad, other than their feelings, and the Champion Mutton Buster title went to up-and-coming cowboy-of-tomorrow five-year-old Gabe Wassom of Strong City. Crew Cannon, Cedar Point, and Wyatt Miser, Strong City, both at the ripe ole age of six, placed second and third, respectively.
Inspirational ole glory presentation was made by Karlie Gibb, daughter Kyle and Jenna Gibb, and granddaughter of Kim and Lana Reyer, with the National Anthem drawing special applause in part reflection of 911 Memorial memories two days before.
First chute gate opened just minutes after 7 o’clock, as rank professional bucking bulls from the herd of Jimmy Crowther’s New Frontier Rodeo Company at Roxbury, and also select production from Flint Hills Genetics, provided 27 cowboys from throughout the Midwest the ultimate test of their riding skills.
Donnie Landis, National Finals Rodeo clown-entertainer-barrel man from Gooding, Idaho, made sure there was never a dull moment throughout the cool evening. “Everyone just loved Danny. He was very funny,” Lana Reyer acknowledged.
Of course, most importantly to the cowboys upon hitting the ground after being dumped by their mean bucking mounts, were bullfighters Mark and Luke Peters, who were recognized for saving several contestants from more than just broken pride.
As the bulls were being loaded into the chute for the second round of bucking action, the arena was filled with kids, ten and under of every size and description, as a handful of range wild, brightly multicolored chickens were turned loose to be caught. No easy task was at hand, and story is one of the raging fowl has not yet been found.
Bulls were hands down the percentage champions of the riding competition, so contestants’ names had to be drawn from a big ten gallon hat in order to have ten riders in a second round of cowboy vs bull battle for an opportunity to win the money pot, other memorabilia tokens and prestige of being the champion.
Only one cowboy bull rider was able to make a qualified ride on two bulls. Cooper Kanngiesser of Attica marked 76 points on Number Eleven in the long go-round, and the cowboy came back to mark 87 points on No. 950 Sweat Stain in the second-round to have a championship total of 163 points, worth $1,096.04 in prize money.
As a climax to the evening, Kim Reyer also presented Kanngiesser with a bronze bull rider championship statue, donated by Jim’s Cowboy Shop of Emporia, and a bull rider’s gear bag made and donated by Bruce Brock of Brock’s Boot and Saddle Repair at Cottonwood Falls.
For his qualified ride marking 79 points on his bull in the second go-round, Brian Peters of Delphos collected $657.63, and Jesse Schellhammer, Manhattan, got a $438.41 check for scoring 75 points on his bull drawn in the long go-round.
“There were only four qualified rides on 37 bulls turned out of the chutes, so we were especially proud of the way our bulls performed, considering the level of ability of cowboy contestants, several of the best in the world,” Reyer said.
“All and all, we were especially pleased with our fifth bull riding competition and want to express appreciate to everyone who participated as contestants and spectators in the chilly bleacher seats. However, our biggest credit must go to the generous sponsors for all of their assistance in making such a major event the success that it has become,” acknowledged Reyer, a former champion bull rider in his own right.
“The sixth annual Flint Hills Bull Blowout is set for the second Saturday night of September, the 12th, in 2015. See you then,” welcomed the enthusiastic event coordinator-sponsor.