“Rodeo is all about entertainment and good bucking stock.”
“We are privileged to offer both at our rodeos,” emphasized Chuck McKellips of C. R. McKellips Rodeo Company at Raymore, Missouri.
In a return engagement, McKellips, his wife, Regan, and their largely family-operated; certainly family-oriented entertainment rodeo operations are contracting and producing the 43rd Annual Santa Fe Trail Rodeo at the Burlingame Saddle Club Arena in Burlingame.
“We are so excited to have Chuck and Regan McKellips coming back to Burlingame. They are so congenial, helpful and yet very conscientious and professional helping our saddle club have one of the best rodeos in the Midwest,” credited Pat Rusher, saddle club secretary.
“C. R. McKellips Rodeo Company livestock is outstanding, and because of that and the way the McKellips produce their rodeos, they have the very best cowboys and cowgirls following them to every rodeo they contract,” Rusher added.
This reputation comes by no accident. It’s been a lifelong family effort for Chuck McKellips, who was busy over the weekend producing the Cameron, Missouri, Saddle Club High School Rodeo.
However, the equal partner in C.R. McKellips Rodeo Company, Regan McKellips, and the couple’s six-year-old daughter Clanci, also an integral part of the company, who was under the weather, stayed home from this rodeo to recuperate and be ready to hit the summer rodeo trail hot and heavy in the next seven months.
“We’ll produce more than 30 rodeos and 60 some performances this year,” tallied Regan, who serves as rodeo secretary, timekeeper and all-around organizer.
Self-described as “more of a paper pusher,” Regan is the best-in-the-business as verified by being selected for Finals Secretary duties for both the Missouri Rodeo Cowboys Association Finals and the United Rodeo Association Finals.
Clanci’s main duties, yet, are flag bearer for the inspirational and colorful opening ceremonies for every rodeo the McKellips produce.
A third generation cowboy, Chuck McKellips grew up on the famed Benjamin Stables dude ranch in Kansas City, which his dad, Buz, served as foreman. Chuck competed successfully in rodeo rough stock competition and then was a steer wrestler along with being involved with cowboy hospitality, entertainment and manager at Benjamin Stables.
After marrying, the McKellips headquartered at the Raymore ranch where Regan grew up active with 4-H projects, horses and competing as a barrel racer and other horse show events.
In 1999, the McKellips had the urge to produce their own rodeos after having initially leased livestock to other contractors. “We have always owned our own livestock which we feel is a benefit to our company,” Regan evaluated. “Rodeo contracting has become a way of life we would not trade today. We enjoy what we do.”
The ranch has more than 30 bucking bulls, about 100 horses including both bucking stock and those ridden by Chuck and the cowboys helping produce the shows, along with about 50 steers for team roping and bulldogging, and another 40 calves for tie down and breakaway events
That may seem like a lot, but Regan contended, “Sometimes it’s too many, especially when it’s feeding time, but if some stock is leased to another contractor, the number works out just about right.’
Having raised some of their own livestock, the McKellips now acquire their rodeo cattle and horses through a variety of sources. “This bucking stock all has long proven lineage to buck; that’s their job, their only job,” Regan clarified.
Nobody can think of questioning the caliber of livestock owned by C.R. McKellips as verified by the recognition bestowed last year by the Missouri Rodeo Cowboys Association, which sanctions rodeos the couple produces.
Their bronc named 824 Apple Strudle was voted Bareback Horse of the Year, and McKellips’ 82 Slim Shady Junior was honored as Bull of the Year, after being recognized as top bull at the MRCA Finals.
“We are able to provide a full sanctioned rodeo including arena if needed, a youth rodeo, Hispanic rodeo or a Regional Bull Riding (RBR) event for your viewing pleasure,” Chuck pointed out. In addition to being MRCA sanctioned, most McKellips’ contracted rodeos are sanctioned by the United Rodeo Association.
“We always have a number of broncs and bulls at the MRCA and URA Finals,” inserted Regan, adding that MoKan Youth Rodeo Association and Missouri High School Association rodeos are an important part of the contracts.
“None of our productions would be possible with the support of our family and personnel,” Regan claimed. “Chuck’s dad, Buz, is still our full time livestock supervisor on the ranch. Son Charlie has been the voice of C. R. McKellips Rodeo for the past five years. It takes a full crew to make each an event a success.”
Conscientious of every aspect of every performance of every rodeo they produce, the McKellips have been honored many times for the quality of their rodeos. The MRCA signified their production at the Cass County Fair in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, as a Silver Buckle Rodeo; the Truck Stop US event at Columbia, Missouri was named Straight Rodeo of the Year, and a Gold Buckle title went to their KC Stampede, a four performance New Year’s Eve event at the American Royal Complex in Kansas City, which is also an International Rodeo Association sanctioned competition.
Looking to the future of rodeo and C.R. McKellips Rodeo Company, Regan is all optimism. “Amateur association rodeos like the ones we produce offer an opportunity for the working class cowboy to compete near home, have the satisfaction of doing what they enjoy most, not have extensive travel expenses, nor be away from home for long times, and still be recognized for their abilities and win yearend titles,” she said.
As expenses have increased for all entertainment, rodeo crowds have increased. “Families can attend a rodeo for considerably less than going to a concert, car races or even a movie, and its wholesome entertainment they can all become involved in as a family. Our attendance has been setting records, and I only see that continuing,” Regan evaluated.