CHILDRESS, Texas –For most of his life, rodeo was more than a game to Childress cowboy Stran Smith; it was his business, and he was very good at it.
He qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 10 times and won the tie-down roping world title in 2008. He’s retired from competition, but he’s still very much involved in the sport and wants to see it grow.
That’s why he’s leant his name to the STS Championship, set for April 30-May 2 at the Mashburn Event Center and Arena in Childress. The three-day event is set up primarily as a youth competition, though the opening day will feature some of the top calf ropers in the game. The open ladies’ breakaway roping will kick off the festivities, followed by the open tie-down roping.
“This is my hometown, and rodeo is what I did professionally for 25 years,” Smith said. “I have three kids – Stone is 17, Scout is 15 and Selah is 9 – and they’re not involved in rodeo, but I know how important it is whenever you have the opportunity to reach out and do what you can to help young people.”
That’s the main goal, but the STS Championship (named for Smith with his initials) is also a way to showcase some incredible competition to the people in Childress and those in the surrounding communities.
“I’m pretty passionate about rodeo,” he said. “It’s been pretty good to me over the years. I didn’t just win that world championship by myself. It took a lot of people, all the way down to my junior high coaches and all the way up to my family. To bring an event like that here means a lot.
“I’d rather watch roping and rodeo than eat dessert. I want to bring an event like this where people right here can enjoy it instead of having to travel to see it, especially with the facility we have.”
He pointed to the staff and others who will do much of the heavy lifting to produce the event. Sheabree Nix, the center’s coordinator, has helped bring new events to town, Smith said; he expects to see further expansion to come.
“I’ve had events and different jackpots where I’ve been on the production side of things, and it’s a thankless job,” Smith said. “You do a lot of work. Fortunately for me, the group we have here takes care of me and takes care of things. With most youth events, it takes a whole lot of behind-the-scenes work to pull one of these off.”
All youth events will take place Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2. It will open with barrel racing, followed by breakaway roping and goat-tying. Sunday’s contests will follow an 8 a.m. church service, followed by tie-down roping and a 19-and-under ladies’ breakaway. In all, it is set up to be a showcase of talented individuals with big dreams.
“With COVID, everything’s been shut down, and the Western industry has tried to support each other and bounce back from this,” Smith said. “Rodeo is stronger now than it ever has been. That’s what inspires me about the future of rodeo. There are a lot of talented kids coming up that have spent the time in the practice pen, and it shows. I’m excited about where rodeo is going. I am glad to help these young people reach their goals.”