CHILDRESS, Texas –Rodeo rigs in all shapes and sizes will soon converge on this community of 6,200 and increase the population considerably.
That’s what happens when the STS Championship comes to town, with competition set for April 30-May 2 at the Mashburn Event Center and Arena in Childress. The event, named for hometown tie-down roping world champion Stran Smith, will feature three days of timed-event competition, most of which will involve youth from across the region.
“One way or another, I’ve been involved with this event since they’ve had it,” said Smith, now retired from competition and working on other business opportunities and being a dad. “It’s nice to be involved, especially when you’re talking about an event that involves so many kids.”
The extravaganza begins open ladies breakaway roping Friday morning, and it is expected to attract many of the top female ropers in the sport. Over the past few years, the money and participation in breakaway roping has exploded, and the interest and viewership has followed suit. The American in Arlington, Texas, was the first to push it onto the national scene, but many other event organizers have decided to jump on the bandwagon.
In fact, the inaugural National Finals Breakaway Roping took place this past December in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo. There is more to come
Many of the elite tie-down ropers in ProRodeo will be featured Friday afternoon during an open calf roping that is being organized by another Childress cowboy, NFR qualifier Stetson Vest. He expects many of the top ropers to be on hand, mainly because the time of the event fits perfectly into the rodeo season.
“It’s going to be 50 to 60 guys, and we will have three rounds and a short-go,” Vest said of the format. “The calves are supposed to be fresh, and we’re going to have the score out there for them. It’s going to be a fun roping, but I’m going to have it where it’s more like an old-school roping.”
Saturday morning’s festivities will begin with the 19-under 4D barrel race with side pots that enable competitors to qualify for Vegas Tuffest Junior World Championship – the side pots are $100 for each young racer, and the divisions are set up at 19-under and 12-under.
That will be followed by the 10-under and 12-under co-ed breakaway roping, the 15-under girls breakaway roping and the 10-under double-mugging. Day 2 will wrap with 19-under and 15-under girls goat-tying, then the 12-under co-ed goat-tying.
An 8 a.m. church service will open the final day, followed by boys 15-under tie-down roping, 12-under co-ed roping, 19-under boys tie-down roping and ladies 19-under breakaway roping.
“Youth rodeo is important, and the growth in youth rodeo is tremendous compared to when I started rodeoing,” Vest said. “I’ve seen the young, hungry kids coming up in our ranks now, and they started when they were kids. The talent is unbelievable.
“There are more opportunities for young kids now than there ever were before. It’s more competitive, and these kids are getting an edge because of it.”