The beautiful cool, calm, blue-skied fall day with ideal arena conditions made perfect setting for a celebration.
It was the 30th annual Morris County Invitational Ranch Rodeo hosted by the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association Sunday at Council Grove.
Rodeos have long been commonplace in the Flint Hills, but a rodeo featuring real working cowboys doing what they do every day for a living was unique three decades ago.
The first ranch rodeo in the state was sponsored by the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association at Council Grove.
Now, the Morris County Invitational Ranch Rodeo is the oldest and longest continuing annual ranch rodeo in the state, and one of the oldest in the country.
Bruce Gant, lifelong Council Grove rancher, competed in that first Morris County Invitational Ranch Rodeo, and has been in every one since.
In recognition of Gant’s record, he was honored in a special ceremony during this year’s rodeo grand entry.
Competing as captain of the Paddy Creek Ranch team, Gant has also been a dedicated leader in the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association, along with his wife, Rita, and son, Jim.
An even dozen teams from throughout the Flint Hills competed at this year’s rodeo. First place went to the Robbins/Keith Ranches team from Chase and Lyon Counties.
The Eight Over Quarter Circle Team from northeast Kansas rated second with a tie for third place.
To break the tie, there was a combination cowboy foot race and horse race between the Johnson Ranch and the Buck Creek/Patry Farms team.
In a photo finish, third place check was awarded to Buck Creek/Patry Farms of Chase and Morris Counties.
The Arndt Ranch from Lyon County won the Junior Ranch Rodeo Sunday morning, with second and third, respectively, awarded to the Vogel Ranch of Chase County and Bar Flying W Ranch of Morris County.
Mutton busting is an annual rodeo feature for cowboys and cowgirls seven years and under. Eight riders tried their skills on runaway sheep, and Lane Bell was declared the winner.
Justin Keith, Adrian Vogel, Pax Vogel and Clay Wilson rode for the winning Robbins/Keith Ranches. They won the team roping, placed second in double mugging, fourth in steer branding and sixth in team penning.
The Eight Over Quarter Circle team includes Josh Breeding, Kolby Boos, Derrick Fields and Zack Parkin.
Randy Peterson, Josh Patry, Jason Klumpee and Jaron Whitcomb rode for Buck Creek/Patry Farms.
Competing for the Johnson Ranch were Chad Johnson, Justin Brown, Ryan Gibbs and Wade Olsen.
Emma Arndt, Carley Potter and Piper Vogel represented the winning Arndt Ranch at the Junior Ranch Rodeo.