DODGE CITY, Kan. – There are many reasons why Dodge City Roundup Rodeo is considered one of the best.
Five years ago, the annual event was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Over the years, it has been recognized as Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Rodeo of the Year nine times. Each August, hundreds of the sport’s greatest stars converge on the community to be part of the high-flying, big-money action.
This year’s rodeo is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2-Sunday, Aug. 6, at Roundup Arena. The kick-starter to the weeklong festivities will be Bulls Night Out, which features Xtreme Bulls and Bullfighters Only’s freestyle bullfighting on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
“I think we focus on pleasing three groups of people,” said Jeff Dodson, a 16-year volunteer on the rodeo committee that produces the annual event. “First of all, we want to put on a good show for the crowd. We get the best contestants, and we want to give the fans something special to experience.
“We want to please the contestants, so we want to have the best grounds and the best stock available along with a good payout. We also want our sponsors to say they’re glad to be part of this. You want to keep your sponsors coming back year after year and getting behind you.”
Dodson joined Roundup in 2002. A year later, he was one of the directors. Most of his tenure, he has been the guy sitting atop the timed-event chute helping with that aspect of the competition: Once the animal is loaded, he waits for the contestant’s nod to release the animal into the arena.
“I joined Roundup because most of my friends are involved with it,” he said. “I love the sport. It’s a good way to get involved without being a competitor.”
He is one of many volunteers who help with all the behind-the-scenes work that comes with producing one of the biggest events in southwest Kansas.
“Volunteers are the cornerstone to what we do at Roundup Rodeo,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, the volunteer committee’s president. “It takes a great amount of man hours to get the arena set up, to make sure all the fine details are covered and to have each performance be successful.”
It’s working. Last year, the event was recognized as one of five nominees for PRCA Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year. On top of that, the rodeo is one part of the community celebration, Dodge City Days.
“I feel great about that nomination and the fact that I’m part of something special,” said Dodson, who works for Kansas Feeds. “It’s an honor and a thrill to be part of Roundup. It’s a lot of hard work, but when it’s over, you realize that you were part of it. You see the full stands and the huge crowd that loves the rodeo; I get to say that I was part of it.”