It was a time of reminiscing and recognizing, but there was still plenty of Flint Hills real life Western action during the Fall Invitational Ranch Rodeo at Council Grove.
Sponsored by the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association, the rodeo opened with recognition of cowboys who had participated in the first ranch rodeo in Kansas sponsored by the local group 25 years ago.
Among those was Kenneth Muller, of the Muller Ranch at Council Grove, who served as president of the organization at that time.
While several of those cowboys competing in the first rodeo were in the audience, a few of them were on horseback in the arena participating in this year’s competition. Some of those cattlemen have even ridden in every ranch rodeo at Council Grove.
Silver anniversary celebration of Council Grove having the first ranch rodeo in the state started last summer with the annual Working Ranch Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo and special entertainment by country music singer Red Steagall.
The fall rodeo was a continuation of that observance honoring ranchers who’ve been involved in the invitational competition.
Seventeen teams from throughout the state participated in this year’s fall rodeo, with first place going to the Beachner Brothers Ranch from Bourbon County.
Team members Bruce Beeman, Cliff Hall, Calvin Kendall, and Orban Stephens placed first in double mugging en route to the championship buckles.
Second through fourth place teams, also receiving payback checks, were Reed Ranch, Lyon County, McGee Cattle Company, Linn County, and Buck Creek/Lonesome Pine Ranches, Chase County.
Paddy Creek Ranch tied with the J.C. Livestock/Lyons Ranches team to win the special trophy, presented by Alexander Artworks, to the high placing Morris County team.
Paddy Creek members are Bailey Allen, Nick Allen, Bruce Gant and Clay Wilson, and they also topped the steer branding competition.
On the J.C. Livestock/Lyons Ranches team are Jennie Buchman, Tyson Buchman, Chad Johnson, and Wade Olsen.
First place team in both the team penning and team roping divisions was the Reed Ranch composed of Jimmie Reed, Jared Phillips, Tim Davidson, and Justin Keith.
There were 23 contestants, seven years of age and under, in the sheep riding, frequently referred to as mutton busting, during the rodeo intermission.
Max Brown of Dwight supplied the ewes for that competition for the 25th consecutive year, with Dawson Ellerman of Burdick being the champion rider.
A Youth Ranch Rodeo, also initiated by the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association as the first such event in the state several years ago, was during the morning.
Trophy buckles went to Jim Gant, Jaron Lewis, and Tanner Lewis as members of the champion Gant/Division Ranches team.
A Silver Anniversary Ranch Rodeo Saddle commemorating the first ranch rodeo in the state was especially designed, made, and engraved by Hunn Saddlery of Augusta for the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association.
The saddle was given away during a special drawing at the rodeo, with Dawson Ellerman, as the top sheep rider, having the privilege drawing the winning ticket out of a large white feed bucket under supervision of Youth Rodeo Association President Clay Wilson.
Little Carley Geiger, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Geiger of Greenwood County, won the saddle, which is kind of large for her yet, but her eyes were about as big as the saddle horn when she gave her new saddle seat a try for fit.