“The best way to remember is with a souvenir.”
Everybody knows that, and the most memorable times for many is when they go to the rodeo.
“Officials of the Flint Hills Rodeo Association know that, too, and in nearly 77 years of annual rodeo action, there have been plenty of souvenirs from our annual rodeo at Strong City,” according to Jason Lewis, president of the “oldest consecutive rodeo in Kansas.”
However, according to Marcia Bailey, closely involved with the rodeo for her entire life, “There really wasn’t any convenient way to get these valuable remembrances. Although, they were often available on the rodeo grounds ‘somewhere,’ many people didn’t know where that was, and missed the opportunity to have their very own collectible which have many times increased in value over the years.”
So, Lewis exclaimed, “The Flint Hills Rodeo Association plans to construct a building distinctly for that purpose, to sell mementos of the annual rodeo present, and even from the past.”
All board members are enthusiastic about the idea, as has been everybody who’s heard about the plan, but the structure to merchandise rodeo souvenirs will require finances for its construction.
“We didn’t know exactly how to go about raise funding for this important addition to the rodeo grounds, and the longtime tradition of the Flint Hills Rodeo. Finally, it was decided a perfect kickoff for the souvenir building fundraising campaign would be a Christmas drawing,” Bailey said.
“That’s what we’re doing, and friends of the Flint Hills Rodeo have come aboard to make the opportunity beyond our expectations,” Lewis applauded.
The Flint Hills Rodeo Souvenir Building Donation Fund Raiser drawing is offering a Christmas Package valued at well over $1,000, Bailey said.
Tickets went on sale in late September, and will be available for purchase until December 20, 2013. Donations of $10 are requested for one ticket, and $20 for three tickets.
Purchases can be made on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Flint-Hills-Rodeo. They are also available by telephone at 620-366-1618, or 620-583-7246, and leaving a message, so the call will be returned.
“Some of the things in the package are four reserved seat ticket to the 2014 Flint Hills Rodeo, Saturday night, June 7; a $100 gas card; $150 worth of Flint Hills Rodeo souvenirs; two spots on a Flying W Ranch weekend trail ride the same weekend as the rodeo; and much more. This is a Christmas Package, so we aren’t telling everything,” Bailey insisted.
Among items expected to be available at the Flint Hills Rodeo Souvenir Building when operation, hopefully by June 5, 2014,opening performance of the 77th annual edition of the professional affair, are t-shirts, caps, buckles, photographs, rodeo paraphernalia and collectibles, and historical items from many of the past rodeos.
The Flint Hills Rodeo began from a regular practice in the 1930s of staging pasture rodeos at the farm of Emmett Roberts near Strong City, and 1937 is marked as the birth year of the Flint Hills Rodeo.
It was only a natural step when Roberts along with his son, Ken Roberts, put on what they called the First Annual Chase County Rodeo in 1938. The rodeo they hosted was renamed the Flint Hills Rodeo the following year and has kept going without fail ever since, always the first full weekend of June using the same arena at the arena constructed in 1948.
Most world champions and the top 15 contestants in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association annually compete at Strong City, or definitely have at one time or another.
E. C. Emmett Roberts promoted rodeo by being a contestant, contractor, producer, and director of the Flint Hills Rodeo board for 37 years.
He was the father of three rodeo champions: Marge, 1940; Gerald, 1942 and 1948; and Ken, 1943, 1944 and 1945. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts had three other children, Cliff, Gloria and Howard.
Howard competed some at rodeos, most reputed for his ability heading broncs in the early day wild horse races, but mainly he stayed home to farm, so the rodeo stock could be taken care of.
Mrs. Roberts was the steadying hand behind her man, keeping home fires burning leaving Mr. Roberts free to travel the rodeo circuit and watch after the three “kids”. He was designated Rodeo Man of the Year in 1977.
To honor this rodeo family who founded the rodeo in Strong City, a six-by-20-foot mural with local artists’ paintings of the Roberts was erected and dedicated on the Flint Hills Rodeo grounds in June of 1994.
“Our new souvenir center will be the perfect complement to that mural,” insisted Bailey, who has been involved in the rodeo since childhood.
“My dad, Elmore Stout, was president of the association many years as well as a director after that. I competed in the rodeo for several decades, just as my husband, Wayne, and our sons, Buck and Wes, have. We all continue serving the Flint Hill Rodeo in every way we can, either as directors or volunteer, whenever there is the need.
“Just like the Roberts family, the Flint Hills Rodeo has always been close to the hearts of all of us in the Stout and Bailey families. This new Souvenir Building is the perfect addition to help keep the rodeo alive and growing for generations to come,” Bailey contended.
Among others donating items to the Christmas Drawing are Jim Bell Western Wear, Cottonwood Falls; Bruce Brock, Cottonwood Falls; Jerry Hedrick, Kansas City; Ad Astra Food & Drink, Strong City; Reyer’s Country Store, Strong City; The Liquor Maze, Strong City; Roy Frey Western Store, Topeka; M-B Leather, Hamilton; Annie Wilson, Elmdale; Jim’s Cowboy Shop, Emporia; and Cottonwood Falls Chamber of Commerce, with additional contributions coming in daily.
Most of these friends of the Flint Hills Rodeo have tickets available, Bailey confirmed.
“Thank you to our sponsors or this Christmas Package donation fundraiser would not be possible. They have added a lot of value to this drawing by donating items,” appreciated Lewis, emphasizing “You don’t have to be present to win, but you will have to have a ticket.”