Rodeo to stampede into Abilene; businesses supportive of community event

A long-time tradition will stampede into Abilene in August.

The annual Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo returns for the 72nd edition August 2-5, kicking off the Central Kansas Free Fair.

The first night of rodeo is August 2, featuring bull riding, saddle bronc riding and barrel racing. The next three nights of rodeo, August 3-5, will consist of all seven PRCA events: bareback riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, barrels, and bull riding.

This year the six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo clown and barrelman John Harrison will be on hand with his brand of comedy. Harrison, Soper, Okla., has won the PRCA’s Comedy Act of the Year four times. Mike Mathis returns as the announcer, and bullfighters Ethan McDonald, a native of Abilene, and newcomer Blake Miller, Troy, Texas, will be on hand as cowboy protection during the bull riding. Andrews Rodeo Co. will provide the bucking bulls and horses.

The freestyle motocross act Steel Rodeo Tour will return to entertain fans following the bull riding each night. They are sponsored by Superior Sanitation, Smart Insurance/Progressive Insurance, and Almost Home Realty, and the riders will do their tricks over a Superior Sanitation truck parked in the arena each night.

CTI John Deere and West’s Country Mart are two of the ten original sponsors of the rodeo who have sponsored the rodeo since 1986. At that time, the John Deere dealership in Abilene belonged to Shouse Equipment. Kyle Adams, general manager for CTI, says it’s about community involvement. “It’s always about supporting the community,” he said. “The rodeo is a great event of the town, and it draws a lot of people. We like being part of that. It’s a way to show support for a good activity in town.” This year, CTI celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in business.

Steve West, manager at West’s Country Mart in Abilene, says they choose to sponsor for the same reason as CTI. “It’s for the support of the rodeo,” he said. The rodeo “brings in quite a few dollars over the four nights, plus it’s good entertainment.”

As a kid, West and his siblings showed horses at the fair and attended the rodeo. When his kids were little, he took them to the rodeo, and now that they have kids of their own, they attend as well.

The Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo runs August 2-5 with performances at 7:30 pm each night. Tickets range from $7 to $13 and are on sale online at www.ckff.net, at the Central Kansas Free Fairgrounds, and at area businesses.

For more information, visit www.WildBillHickokRodeo.com or its Facebook page (search for Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo.)

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