Buford Ranches of Welch, Oklahoma, went home with the championship title out of a dozen teams competing at the 27th annual Santa Fe Trail Ranch Rodeo in Council Grove.
By winning the rodeo, the working cowboys on the Craig County team earned the right to compete at the 18th annual Working Ranch Cowboys Association World Championship in Amarillo, Texas, November 7-10.
En route to collecting the first place award made by Alexander Artworks, Ray Blasi, Cameron Compton, Ty Davenport and Ryan Rhinehart placed first in team penning at Friday evening’s performance and ranked first in calf branding Saturday night.
Additional events both nights were ranch bronc riding, stray gathering and wild cow milking with points totaled from both performances to determine the winner. Buford Ranch had qualified runs to receive points in every event both nights.
Sponsored by the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association, the ranch rodeo at Council Grove was the first such competition for working cowboys in the state, and it is now the longest running rodeo of its kind in Kansas.
A combined team representing the Moxley Ranch of Morris County and the Keith Ranch of Lyon County placed second overall. Team members Clay Wilson, Justin Keith, Kolby Boos and Zack Parkin won both the bronc riding and the stray gathering at Saturday night’s rodeo.
There was a tie for third place team honors between the Lonesome Pine Ranch of Chase County and the team representing the Robbins Ranch of Chase County and Massey Cattle Company of Greenwood County.
Tie was broken by a cowboy representing each team running a foot race to their saddled horses and racing horseback to the finish line with Lonesome Pine being the winner.
Lonesome Pine team members are Bud Higgs, Troy Higgs, Brian Peak and Chris Potter. The Robbins-Massey team included Jason Gibson, Colt Massey, Grady Gibb, Billy Lauer and Adrian Vogel.
All four top teams received payback checks.
Sonny’s Bert, ridden by Travis Duncan of the KW Cattle and Diamond E Ranch from Bourbon
County, was selected as the Outstanding Ranch Horse of the rodeo, and Duncan will receive a special award from the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association.
The “Top Registered Quarter Horse” trophy from the American Quarter Horse Association was presented by Kaycee Hooper, representative of the Working Ranch Cowboys Association, to Jake Gilmore of the team representing Nix Cattle and Pawnee River Ranch of Hugoton.
A youth ranch rodeo was featured Saturday morning with Lonesome Pine Ranch again being the winner; this time represented by cowboys and cowgirls 13 years of age and younger: Mackenzie Higgs, Carlee Potter and Colton Potter.
Lonesome Pine placed first in calf branding and was second in both team penning and ribbon roping.
Ranking second through fourth and team members respectively in the youth ranch rodeo were Diamond E Ranch, Ashlyn Aikens, Bryce Eck and Wyatt Buchman; Mudcat Ranch, Blaine Hinricks, Blaise Holloway and Cade Pearson; and Gillmore Ranch, Shyanne Allen, Blaine Fillmore and Jim Gant.
With what has been called “record rodeo attendance, an inspirational memorial service during the grand entry of both performances recognized Bob Hensley and Jack Wilson, who had been dedicated workers for the rodeo since its inception. Their sons, Matt Hensley and Clay Wilson and his son, Cole, led rider less horses symbolically representing empty saddles due to passing of the two cowboys.
A Western Trade Show was featured both days of the ranch rodeo, and a concert by Jake Gill, country-western music recording artist, concluded the Saturday evening performance.