The real backbone of rodeo

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There are many facets in the world of rodeo, from the variety of events to the personalities of the contestants to the contractors and committees.

Each has a vital role in the sport’s success.

But the backbone of rodeo isn’t the roper, wrestler or rider, nor is it an amazing animal athlete; the driving force behind rodeo’s greatness is the volunteer, the person who raises the money, promotes the event, paints the fence, moves the livestock, works the ground, sells the tickets, puts up the banners, sells the concessions, handles the hospitality and thousands of other duties that go unnoticed to most folks in the community.

World champions could enter any rodeo they want, but no rodeo will succeed without the volunteers who produce it.

Thanks for all the work you do.


Comments (9)
Ted Harbin / February 27, 2011

We received this comment on the Facebook page, and I’m moving it over here because comments about the items on TwisTED Rodeo should be on this site. It’s from Kurt Laduron:
“Volunteers?….yea they MAY know, but in my 16 years working for a rodeo company and putting on over 50 rodeos a year for a 7 year stretch, 99% of the volunteers or committee members just get in the way because they havent had the experienc…e needed to be of any real help. Has anyone ever seen a volunteer sort bulls or buckin horses?, the thing I have found they are most suited for is the timed event end of the arena, keeping the calves and steers pushed up and bringing them up from the bottom end and feeding and watering maybe. The real effort is done by the cowboys of the stock contractor to make it work seamlessly…..”

First off, Kurt’s tunnel vision from his own work has given him the opinion of a stock contractor’s employee. That’s a great angle for us all to see from. But it’s so negative that it deserves to be countered.

What stock contractor in his right mind would allow a volunteer to work with his bucking animals?

Who hires the stock contractor? Does the stock firm raise money to put on the rodeo? Does the stock firm sell the concessions or park vehicles or paint the arena? Does the stock firm spend the community’s money to promote the event?

I appreciate Kurt’s response. Unfortunately it’s way off base. Yes, stock contractors and their employees bust their butts when the rodeo’s in town. They deserve recognition for that. But they’re not the backbone of rodeo, and if he doesn’t see the importance of the volunteers, then he’s missing something very important.

Kurt Laduron / September 4, 2011

I stand by what I said about volunteers. They are best suited for the timed event end of the arena in keeping calves and steers pushed up or getting them from the bottom end of the arena. And Ted my comments are NOT way off base, they are right on. I have done hundreds of rodeos as a Rodeo company enployee and as a contestant in the bullriding. So my opinion carries more weight than most others. Any time I have had to use volunteers, some have been good, some not. I’ll tell you NOT ONE has ever sorted bulls or buckin horses or help load the roughstock into the buckin chutes. They are like I said best suited for timed event where the chance of getting hurt is much less likely. Just because you write for a Rodeo magazine makes you think you know more about rodeo than me? Until you have had my experience in putting on a COMPLETE rodeo of over 16 years and doing every job there is, then you can tell me I have tunnel vision. All that other stuff you talked about has nothing to do with the original point of volunteers are generally not much help in putting on the actual rodeo…..I will say there have been some good volunteers at times, but mostly they should let the stock company cowboys handle it, it will be a smoother run rodeo…

Ted Harbin / September 4, 2011


I’m glad you stand by your convictions. You and I will always disagree about this topic.

I think Davie Kimm’s comment is dead on, too. Those who hold your convictions are a reason why our industry may be in real trouble.

Keep checking back.


Kurt Laduron / September 9, 2011

The reason rodeo is in trouble is because of the terrible economy, the company I worked for went from 50-60 rodeos year to less than 15. The state of rodeo has nothing to do with the orignal question, which was that volunteers are the backbone of rodeo. The volunteer is important to every facet of getting the rodeo to the arena and getting it off and running. My point is that when it comes time to put on the actual performance of the rodeo, the volunteers are generally just in the way, like I said before, some have been good help, most have have not…

Ted Harbin / September 9, 2011

You’re only looking at one aspect of what a volunteer does. No stock contractor in his right mind would want volunteers working with his valuable bucking stock. It’s just senseless. I’m glad stock contractors have guys like you. But you have no job without that committee.

Kurt Laduron / September 12, 2011

I totally understand the role of the volunteer committe member, I have dealt with them for many years. The thing I have a problem with is you seem not to be getting what it is I am trying to say. The volunteer committe member is important to getting funding, sponsors, the adminstration aspects and so forth. My thing that I am trying to get across to you and to this Davie Kimm person is that when it comes to THE ACTUAL RODEO ITSELF, the committee members that have worked for me have been most suited to the timed event end of the rodeo arena by brining up the steers and calves from the bottom end. They simply do not have the experience to do sorting by numbers if it is a drawn stock rodeo. They volunteers really do not belong near the roughstock aspect of the arena, as you know it came be very dangerous to the inexperienced person, which is why at our Rodeo company, we handle ALL of that portion of the performance ourselves. I will say it once again, the volunteer committee member IS IMPORTANT, just not as much as you seem to give credit for when the ACTUAL RODEO is going on….I hope that explains myself a little better…

Ted Harbin / September 12, 2011

I appreciate the incredibly valuable importance of a stock contractor and his personnel. Their work is tireless and underappreciated by most. They (you) do things I don’t care to do, and most often the work is done because of passion for rodeo, because the money isn’t that great.

But a stock contractor worth anything will not have volunteers working with his bucking stock, animals that are so valuable to the operation that he needs to have experienced cowboys handling those tasks. Most of the work of a committee person is done well before the week of the rodeo, but there are plenty of jobs awaiting them when the competition begins.

I might oversell the importance of volunteers in your eyes, but those are my views. They might be askew of many folks, but I’ve been involved as a volunteer, as a committee director and now as a hired contractor. I appreciate all the roles that make the rodeo world turn, but I still say volunteers are the real backbone of the sport.

Thanks, Kurt, for your thoughtful response and explanation. I appreciate what you have to say; more, I appreciate the work you do.

Joe Scully / February 28, 2011

There are so many integral parts to a rodeo…
The Association: having the members to go to it, and promotion of it
The Contestants: the stars of the show
The Animal Athletes: the stars of the show
The Crew: setting arena and staging competition
The Officials: governing the competition
The Spectators: paying to watch
The Sponsors: supporting the event
The Committee: taking the tickets, sweeping the grounds, etc.
No event could happen without one of the above.
This blog makes the point, but over elegance in its presentation made the point missed by the stock pusher.
From all of the components listed…who has no personal financial gain? Or better yet…a cheque?

Davie Kimm / March 6, 2011

Kurt’s comments up above are part of the reason that I believe our industry to be in real trouble! There are so many facets like Joe pointed out above that make our wheel turn, but so many of these sectors only think of themselves. While it is true all of the folks Joe mentioned are needed to survive and be successful, to survive we need to all work together for a common goal.

Keep up the great blog posts Ted!


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