BELLVILLE, Texas – With two world championships on her belt and two more reserve world titles, Kelly Kaminski could have her pick of many rodeos that are her favorites.
“This is our hometown rodeo,” said Kaminski, who won barrel racing gold buckles in 2004-05 and was runner-up the two years previously. “It’s very special to me. I won this rodeo one year, and you would’ve thought I won the NFR. It was as I was up and coming and before I won the world, but it is still a special memory.”
It should be, and she’s excited about this year’s rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12-Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Austin County Fairgrounds in Bellville. There are many reasons behind it, from great action to the best personnel in the game.
“There are a lot of special memories here, and we’ve had some great concerts and great country artists over the years at the fair,” she said. “Our little rodeo has some amazing talent that some folks in our county don’t even understand.”
That talent includes the voice of the Bellville rodeo, Boyd Polhamus, a four-time PRCA Announcer of the Year who has called the action at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 21 times. He will work with John Harrison, a three-time Comedy Act of the Year winner; Dusty Tuckness, now the reigning seven-time Bullfighter of the Year; and Sandy Gwatney, the 2016 PRCA Secretary of the Year.
“For a small rodeo like this, it’s really special,” Kaminski said. “What’s neat about rodeo is you can see the people up close. From a fan’s perspective, these are the people you admire or look up to in your sport. You can see people you’ve watched at a national level. That’s a pretty neat thing.”
That’s what makes rodeo great, especially in Bellville, where the fans know the sport. They understand what it means to witness a world champion in action, and they show up to see the best in the world compete in their hometown.
Kaminski has been one of the best during her storied career. She spends a great deal of her time now with the Junior NFR, an event that features youngsters competing in Las Vegas in conjunction with ProRodeo’s grand championship. She also spent a great deal of time this year on the road with her 19-year-old daughter, Kenna, who is running barrels just like Mom.
“We’re very close, because I raised her on the road,” Kaminski said of her relationship with Kenna. “The girl can ride. Her horsemanship is outstanding, and she’s got a lot of talent with horses.”
Some of that is genetics, but a big portion comes from the hard work Kenna has put in alongside her mother. Kelly Kaminski competed some over the summer, mostly on backup horses to help them get seasoned as the animals and Kenna learned the ropes of the rodeo trail.
Now they’re back in southeast Texas. It’s home, a place Kelly Kaminski has lived for 26 years. She’s proud of the heritage that sits in Austin County, and she’s excited to be part of rodeo’s history.
“The first time I went to the finals and came back as reserve (world champion), I got such a wonderful reception,” said Kaminski, one of just seven women to have won back-to-back gold buckles. “For me, it was really special because I felt like I put our town on the map. Bringing that attention to it and make my town proud really meant a lot to me.”