CHILDRESS, Texas –Stetson Vest has always wanted to be involved in something big in his hometown.
He has that chance with the STS Championship, set for April 30-May 2 at the Mashburn Event Center and Arena in Childress. Vest, one of the elite tie-down ropers in professional rodeo and a 2013 National Finals Rodeo qualifier, is overseeing a special day of roping that will kick off the three days of the championship.
“I’ve always wanted to host something here,” said Vest, the grandson of legendary roper Clifton Smith and the nephew of 2008 world champion Stran Smith. “Stran had the junior event going, and the people with the event came to me and wanted me to do our open ropings.”
Like golf, there is a handicapping system for some aspects of Western events, and the open classification points to the highest level of roping. A key part of Vest’s duties is to attract the biggest names in the sport and draw them to Childress for the competition. The timing of the STS Championship coincides with one of the largest ProRodeos in the region in Guymon, Oklahoma, which is about 200 miles northwest of Childress.
“I thought it was a great weekend for the open tie-down ropers where I can promote it,” he said. “Since I’m still roping, I’m going to work on getting the top guys to rope here.
“There are a lot of people going through Childress on their way to Guymon and back home. That weekend used to be full of open jackpots, but we haven’t had that in a while. The timing and date are always crucial with us involved with the rodeo season if we’re going to be able to make a roping like this.”
He expects 50 to 60 of ProRodeo’s top stars to be in the mix, and they will all rope at least three calves. The cowboys with the top three-run cumulative times will advance to the championship round.
The Friday, April 30, competition isn’t just for the boys, though. The STS Championship will begin with the open breakaway roping, and Vest expects to see dozens of ladies arrive for a chance at the money available.
“We’re going to base our rounds on the number of ropers that show up for the breakaway,” Vest said. “It’s going to be open entries with no limits on how many, but we want to set it up based on the timeline. I want the open tie-down roping start at 1 o’clock (p.m.).
“Breakaway roping has grown like wildfire the last couple of years. Anything that can help grow the sport of rodeo is great. There aren’t as many jackpots for us open guys, but breakaway roping has just seen tremendous growth. It’s very exciting for roping altogether.”
That growth and the talent that will be involved in the opening day is one reason organizers are so excited about what’s fans will get to experience when the STS Championship comes to town.