Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shrine Rodeo at home in Tonganoxie

First year for event in city brings new customers, organizers say

May 30, 2007

As Chris Herring stretched before getting on one of the many fierce looking bulls at the Abdallah Shrine Rodeo on Saturday, it was apparent the 24-year-old would not take the timeless advice uttered by the late Paul Gleason in the 1985 classic movie, "The Breakfast Club."

"If you mess with the bull you get the horns."

Instead the Oklahoma native, who has been riding bulls since he was a child, held on tightly as the chute opened and he took his shot at 8 seconds of glory.

Sometimes Herring can get the best of the bull's wild thrashings and end up winning thousands of dollars in prize money.

This time the bull got the best of him and bucked Herring off before he could make time.

Although he was frustrated after the losing his chance at his winnings by just a couple of seconds, Herring is still positive about the whole rodeo experience and still wants to keep trying to win bull riding competitions.

"I just love it," Herring said. "You get to travel and meet different people, and because I hate working."

Hundreds of people attended the Abdallah Shrine Rodeo over the Memorial Day Weekend at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds.

Each night guests were treated to many rodeo competitions such as bronco riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and what rodeo clown and co-master of ceremonies Rockin' Robbie Hodges jokingly referred to as the only legal form of child abuse, Mutton Bustin. Mutton Bustin is a competition in which young children hang on to a sheep for as long as they can as they take off around the arena.

Jim Holland, who has been sponsoring Abdallah Shrine's rodeo queen contestants for the past six years, said he thought the move to the fairgrounds went well this year.

"It's wide open, it's clean; they only need more bleachers," he said. "It is such a beautiful night and it was a great family experience."

The rodeo queen was crowned Thursday when April Brown was named to the position. Her mother Carol, won the honor in 1975.

Reigning 2006 queen Lauren Wood opened the ceremony by riding into the arena on a horse, but fell off midway through the ride.

Announcer Roger Mooney asked the crowd to cheer her on as personnel tended to her.

"My back's hurting, my buns are hurting, but there's nothing wrong with my ears," Mooney said, putting himself in Wood's boots as encouraging the crowd to root her on.

The crowd obliged as she eventually stood up and presented awards to queen candidates.

Dennis Young and his wife, Jamie, of Olathe, were surprised at the number of people who came to the rodeo because of its new location in Tonganoxie.

"It was packed," Jamie said. "The weather was perfect, you couldn't ask for anything more."

"It's really hard to move a rodeo and get good attendance, but they did it their first year," Dennis said.

About the only place that wasn't hustling and bustling during the rodeo was the craft show. Craft show participants said guests weren't busy trying to buy the many metal works, quilts, pillows, clothing and other handmade crafts. About the only time the traffic picked up was just before and after the rodeo competitions, and even that traffic wasn't enough for some of the craftsman.

Sherry Leftwich had her booth, the Thimbo, set up.

"Traffic has been pretty slow," Leftwich said. "We sit here for hours with only one customer going through."

Of all of the arts and craft shows the McLouth businesswoman has ever done, she said it was the slowest.

John Yost agreed.

He and his wife, Yvonne, have been setting up their Piper based business, Sensations Jewelry, at the rodeo for more than six years.

They said the show was slower, but they believe it is because it's the rodeo's first year in a new location and now the rodeo has to start over.

"We are seeing a lot less people from Wyandotte County, but we are seeing more people from different areas that we didn't see before, like Douglas County and Lawrence," John said.

As far as the rest of the rodeo and the carnival, many of the Shriners said this year's rodeo was a success.

"I think it went pretty well," said Chris Muro, chief rabban for the Shriners.

He said a move to a brand new location always proves difficult, but he knows the attendance gets better.

"It was slow that first night, but you got to build on it as you go," he said.

What also made him optimistic was the crowd's reaction when after a two overcast nights without weather problems the sky opened up and it began to rain on the the rodeo's final night.

"It kind of sprinkled, we got through it and everybody stayed through the bull riding," he said.

He wasn't sure yet if the rodeo was going to return to Tonganoxie, but he did have some ideas for next year.

If weather permits, he would like to move the crafts show outside and he said he would like to see the show advertised more. He would also like to see more bleachers around the arena.

Muro said the Shriners were going to meet this week to discuss things topics as attendance and determine whether to return to Tonganoxie for the 2008 rodeo.

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