DODGE CITY, Kan. – With eyes firmly on the future, members of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo committee have always been progressive when it comes to putting on a world-class rodeo.
It’s one of the many reasons the event was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame a decade ago, and it’s why thousands of fans pack into Roundup Arena for six nights of action each summer. This year’s rodeo is set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3-Sunday, Aug. 7, at Roundup Arena; Dodge City Xtreme Bulls is set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2.
New to the landscape is breakaway roping, an all-girls event that’s been around for decades but has witnessed a resurgence in the last few years. Money and events have increased for breakaway ropers since 2019, and it’s still growing.
“We’ve seen what people are seeing with breakaway roping, so the committee decided to add it to our rodeo this year,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, Roundup’s longtime president. “We want to showcase it this year and see what our fans think of it. I think they’re going to be excited to see what we have to offer.”
In 2019, The American rodeo in Arlington, Texas, was the first big-time event to showcase breakaway roping, and a teenager – Madision Outhier – earned the first title. She went on to become the first breakaway roping Resistol Rookie of the Year, earning that title last season. The first National Finals Breakaway Roping took place in 2020; the third year of the grand finale is already scheduled for the end of November in Las Vegas.
Roundup will be one of the highlighted events on the ladies’ schedule. It will feature a purse of about $30,000 for the cowgirls, which is an opportunity at good money for elite ropers.
“With Dodge City adding breakaway roping, it’s awesome for us and for breakaway roping,” said Erin Johnson, the No. 1 breakaway roper in the world standings and a two-time NFBR qualifier from Fowler, Colorado. “Dodge City is one of those iconic rodeos and is one of the ones everyone wants to go to and to win.
“If I sat down and wrote a list of 25 rodeos on my bucket list, that would be one of them. It’s close to home, and it’s a rodeo I’ve heard about since I was little bitty.”
The field will include 80 ropers, with 20 competing each day for the four preliminary performances; 15 will compete during the morning “slack” of the rodeo, and the remaining five will be part of the evening performance. The top 12 times will advance to Sunday’s championship round.
The cowgirl with the fastest two-run cumulative time will be crowned the inaugural Roundup Rodeo breakaway champion.
“I’m super excited they’re giving breakaway roping a try,” said Johnson, who was raised near Burlington, Colorado, near the state’s border with Kansas. “I think the committee and the fans are going to be happy. I know they won’t have any trouble filling it with ropers.”
It’s a good sign for the sport and for the spectators who enjoy a fast-paced, high-energy event at Dodge City Roundup.