The best in rodeo is coming to Manhattan, according to Steve Frazier, promotions coordinator and arena director for the 40th annual edition of the Kaw Valley Rodeo,
“Again sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, performances will begin at 8 o’clock, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, July 23, 24, 25, at Wells Arena in Cico Park, with many of the nations’ very best cowboys and cowgirls competing in America’s toughest sport,” Frazier said.
Seven sanctioned rodeo events include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle-bronc riding, tie-down roping, bull riding and barrel racing, with Rafter H Rodeo Company returning as the stock contractor, along with Lynn Phillips, as announcer.
Professional judges this year are Sam Minnick, El Dorado, and Brad Mattox, Derby.
The Silver Buckle Drill Team of the McPherson Saddle Club will entertain at each performance.
Bullfighters Andy North, Yukon, Oklahoma, and Dustin Brewer, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, are to protect fallen cowboys during the bull riding, with “The Ragin’ Cajun” Rick Young, Tickfaw, Louisiana, serving as barrel man.
Three-time Pro Rodeo Entertainer of the Year Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey is to perform all three nights. The talented capuchin monkey, a true fan favorite will be showing off his skills and cowboy spirit as he herds wild Barbados sheep, aboard his trusty border collie, Boogie.
During the Rodeo Reading’ Roundup, at the Manhattan Public Library, Thursday morning, July 23, 10 o’clock, Kenny Petet, owner and trainer of Whiplash and Boogie, will read from his book, “Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey Saves the Day,” with all children in attendance receiving a free copy of the 24-page, full-color paperback, while supplies last. This event will feature meet-and-greets with rodeo clowns, and Miss Rodeo K-State, and free rodeo tickets for kids.
The eighth annual Military Family Appreciation Night Pre-Rodeo Picnic before Thursday’s rodeo is free to all military families. Thursday’s rodeo will also be Kid’s Night with children, 12 and under, admitted free for a non-perishable food donation brought to the rodeo to benefit the Flint Hills Breadbasket.
The annual Kaw Valley Special Rodeo, begins at 7 p.m., Friday, July 24, which has been designated as Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, with activities to benefit the Kansas State University Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research
Saturday, July 25, from 10 o’clock, to 2 o’clock, the Flint Hills Discovery Center joins in the celebration of cowboy heritage, promoting a love of the land, and in particular, the Flint Hills region, for the National Day of the Cowboy, recognizing the cowboy as a symbol of the history of the American West.
Activities planned for the event include unique variations of barrel racing, calf roping, and bull riding, as well as leather stamping, face painting, buckboard rides and cattle calling. Rodeo queens and rodeo clowns will interact with guests, and the mayor of Manhattan will officially proclaim July 25, 2015, as Day of the Cowboy at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
In 1976, when the Riley County Fair Board needed evening entertainment, a group of rodeo enthusiasts looked into bringing their sport to Manhattan. A fairground arena, established through a federal grant, provided a location, and organizing the rodeo was soon underway.
“Today, four decades later, the Kaw Valley Rodeo continues to bring cowboys, cowgirls, champion livestock and rodeo fans, young and old, together each summer at the Riley County Fair for Manhattan’s premier outdoor summer sporting event at Wells Arena. We’ll see you there,” Frazier invited.