DODGE CITY, Kan. – The United States of America was just a year removed from its bicentennial celebration, and Dodge City was gearing up for the annual Dodge City Days.
Dodge City Roundup Inc. had been established, and the group of volunteers was already in the planning stages for its first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event. That was 1977, when disco was big and “Laverne & Shirley” ruled the prime-time television roost.
Roundup Rodeo is celebrating its 40th annual rodeo this year when the six-night event takes beginning at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2-Sunday, Aug. 7, at Roundup Arena. From the opening night of Xtreme Bull Riding and Bullfighters Only competition to championship round on the final night, there’s no better way to celebrate Dodge City’s place in history than the prestigious ProRodeo.
“Many things have changed over the years, but our commitment to putting on a high-quality rodeo for the cowboys, cowgirls and fans has been the same,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, the committee’s president. “We have a great group of volunteers who work very hard to make our rodeo one of the best in the country.
“We believe that this community and all of western Kansas should have the chance to see the biggest names in rodeo every year, and we take that into consideration with everything we do.”
In fact, Roundup Rodeo has been recognized as PRCA Rodeo of the Year nine times and was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2012. It has hosted dozens of world champions and hundreds of qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“I like the fact that it’s got some history there,” said Cody DeMoss, an 11-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La. “It’s an old cowboy town.”
It’s more than “Gunsmoke,” the 1955-1975 television drama based on Dodge City’s Old West history. No, the community’s history has far outlived the program in many ways, and the rich heritage continues to be celebrated every summer.
Roundup Rodeo is the centerpiece for Dodge City Days, the second largest community event in Kansas with a large economic impact. In its inaugural year, the rodeo featured 175 contestants and paid out more than $8,000. Over the last few years, the event has been home to about 800 ProRodeo contestants and has paid out more than $300,000.
It is, by far, the largest and richest rodeo in the Sunflower State. During the week of competition, Roundup Rodeo also hosts the Miss Rodeo Kansas queen and teen pageants.
“We’re very proud of the tradition and the legacy Roundup Rodeo has, not only in professional rodeo but also across the state,” Trotter said. “As we celebrate our 40th year, there are countless people who have made this rodeo a success over the last four decades, from community volunteers to outstanding sponsors to the cowboys themselves.”
That’s why Roundup Rodeo has become a true showcase for southwest Kansas.