BRIDGEPORT, Texas – Like everyone else who volunteers each year to help produce the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo, Susan Miller’s focus is on the community and not for any rewards that might come her way.
She has received one anyway. In 2014, Miller was named the rodeo’s committee person of the year, an honor chosen by her peers as recognition for the time and talents she’s shared as a volunteer.
“I have spent seven years working on this rodeo, not for my own personal gain or to win an award, but for this community to have something special as this successful professional rodeo,” said Miller, whose full-time post is as the marketing director for James Woods Motors in the neighboring Texas communities of Denton and Decatur. “To be recognized for what I would have done to contribute to the success is absolutely awesome.”
The work continues as the committee prepares for this year’s rodeo, the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.
“Susan has the mentality of getting after it,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the rodeo committee. “I can call her and ask her for help, and she’s all over it. She’ll do anything at any time, and she never complains. The key is she does it with a smile on her face every time.
“It’s good to have people who enjoy volunteering and doing this.”
“I’ve always been a community-minded person,” she said. “I’m raising my kids in this community, and I want it to thrive, be prosperous and be a place they can be proud of. The rodeo is just one small part of the overall, picture, but when that event is successful, many other factors in the community during that weekend are also successful.
“I have a son that rodeos, so being involved specifically in this rodeo helps me better understand everything he participates in.”
She also has realized how much work goes into producing the Bridgeport rodeo. The planning began shortly after last year’s event concluded, and the labor has intensified over the last few months. The core group of volunteers handles everything necessary to make the one weekend a year a success. That means a lot of man-hours for each person on the committee.
“We don’t just show up out there on Friday and Saturday night of the rodeo weekend,” Turnbow said. “There are so many little things that take place, from having the right relationships with sponsors to making sure the promotion is done to setting up the arena.
“Everything that seems so flawless during the weekend of the rodeo has taken months to prepare. We wanted to go back to having the concert like we used to have, so having Phil Hamilton come in has been a big change. Somebody had to make sure it all happened.”
The work is a vital part of making sure the community benefits.
“Bridgeport may be a small town, but it is made up of people who have big ideas for our community,” Miller said. “Those ideas are not just talked about; they are considered to be done. We welcome growth, and we welcome new ideas. I think we prosper at the thought of innovation.”