History Of Rodeo at K-State Goes Back Beyond Seven Decades

The Tap Room and other cowboy cool-aid Aggieville gathering places of the college rodeo jocks would sure have some stories to tell.

It might have seemed a bit rowdy from time to times when arena dust settled for cowboys and cowgirls to get cozy with relaxing country fun celebration of success and always some weeping failure on the sawdust dance floor.

The K-State Rodeo Club has been active for 70 years and celebrated that anniversary with special festivities kicking off the 61st annual K-State Rodeo at Manhattan.

Certain semblances were apparent when seven decades of membership socialized with reflections at the anniversary of the K-State Rodeo Club.

It’ll was part of the 61st annual K-State Rodeo, February 17-18-19, at Manhattan, according to Brooke Wallace, 2016 Miss Rodeo K-State Brooke Wallace, who helped club and rodeo team alumni in logistics of the special activities.

Actually hundreds of former club and rodeo team members spent the weekend remembering the “good old days.” Many attended a special K-State Rodeo Club alumni event.

Seven decades ago, rodeo enthusiasts attending K-State decided to form their own group, separate from other campus animal science, agriculture and athletic activities.

Details are somewhat scant, as many of those original members are not around, but it was originally called the Chaparajos, then Chaps Club. Year of name change isn’t certain, but speculation is “Chaps,” became the K-State Rodeo Club in the late ’60s.

It’s said during formative and growing years, there was uneasiness between the rodeo group, and other agriculture and animal science leadership on campus.

That’s resolved in the decades, for the K-State Rodeo Club to become one of the most recognized ambitious influential working university organizations.

Of course, rodeo is objective of such a group, and several members are said to have heard about the intercollegiate rodeo hosted by Cal Poly team at the Cow Palace near San Francisco.

Several Kansas college cowboys went, competed, had fun, came back to K-State determined to have a college rodeo in Manhattan.

It took a while, and logistics were complex. For many years, Ahearn Field House hosted the K-State Rodeo, requiring construction of portable arena complete with chutes.

Even when Weber Arena became available, the rodeo was still in Ahearn for several years, with safety concerns about the animal science facilities.

The rodeo’s been at Weber since the mid-’70s, and this year’s K-State Rodeo attracted nearly 15,000 fans there.

During the K-State Rodeo Club alumni gathering, members of years gone-by shared pictures, memorabilia, championship buckles and items of historic significance.

A book with pages for each of the 70 years was available for rodeo alumni to fill in officers, team members, memories and experiences.
“Over the past 70 years, students from across the country have made countless memories through involvement in the K-State Rodeo Club, according to Emilie Fink, assistant director of development at the KSU Foundation.

“As the cost of attendance and facility maintenance soars higher and higher, private support from alumni and friends provides critical resources for the program, and the people involved with the K-State Rodeo Cub and Team.

“With a goal of increasing the amount of rodeo scholarship dollars awarded by 10 to 15 percent, a commitment to enhancing facilities used for rodeo activities and the need for program support, each gift to K-State Rodeo makes a difference,” insisted Fink, who can be contacted at emilief@found.ksu.edu or 785-532-7571.