"We encourage people to come on out, have fun, and support the rodeo," said Michael Running, president of the Cowboy Classic Rodeo Association (CCRA). The annual Cowboy Classic Rodeo is set to take place August 16-17 in the Baer-Record Rodeo Arena in Dumas.
The former Moore County Rodeo Arena was renamed last year in honor of Duwain Baer and Tommy Lew Record, two men prominent in local rodeos who were instrumental in getting the arena built back in 1974. "We have two large, beautiful, metal signs, one for the front of the press box and one for the back," said Running. "They will replace the temporary sign that was there."
Competition begins each night at 7:30 pm. This year, Running says, in addition to the regular events, the rodeo both nights will feature entertainment by trick rider Dusta Lee Kimzey. "She was a big part of a movie called "Cowgirls 'n Angels." Special acts have been a part of past rodeos in Dumas, but not in recent years, according to Running. "This year we had someone specific, Miles Mixon, who said he would sponsor the act," he said.
The rodeo is professional, sanctioned by the Kansas Pro Rodeo Association (KPRA), Utah Pro Rodeo Association (UPRA), and the International Pro Rodeo Association (UPRA). "Upwards of 300 contestants" will be on the hunt for prize money and points. The rodeo in Dumas is one of the last on the circuit before the KPRA finals in Dodge City.
Among other things happening at this year's rodeo, 2018 CCRA Queen, Avery Bontke, will give up her throne to 2019 queen Lilianna Gorham. And in an effort to encourage young people to appreciate rodeo and western heritage, Running says this year's event will again offer a lot of fun competition and activity for children. "Muttin Bustin (children riding sheep) has always been a success for us. It draws a lot of people. It is fun," he said. "Our hope is to kind of spur that interest in the younger generation. Get these young families over there, get them involved." In addition to the muttin bustin, there will be a stick horse barrel race, a dummy roping contest, and a kid's calf scramble. Sign up for the muttin bustin is 5:00 pm on Friday, with the event kicking off at 6:00 pm. The top five muttin busters will ride again during the rodeo. Sign up for the other children's events begins at 3:30 pm on Saturday with events beginning at 4:30 pm. There is a $5.00 entry fee for each children's event.
For the CCRA, the August event is not just about competition or having a good time. The rodeo raises money for $500.00 scholarships for students who are in Moore County 4H, the Future Farmers of America (FFA), or Dumas High School Rodeo Association. Last year, Running says, the CCRA was able to award six scholarships to students intending to continue their education beyond high school. High school students going into the 10th grade and up are eligible to apply.
To help raise money for the scholarships, the CCRA will host a Country Dance and Calcutta on Friday, August 9, 2019 in the 8th Street Event Center at 420 W. 8th St. in Dumas from 6:00 pm to 12:00 am. Tickets for the event are $50.00 per person or $350.00 for a table for eight. The price includes a steak dinner, beer and wine, dancing to the music of Northridge Band, a silent auction, and a chance to win $5000.00.
Running, who is also the executive director of the Dumas Economic Development Corporation says the economic impact of the rodeo weekend for the Dumas economy is more than $150,000.00 in fuel sales, food sales, hotels, and retail sales. "It does provide a pretty substantial impact on the community and local businesses."
Keeping the rodeo going year after year is a challenge Running says. "It costs a lot of money to put on a rodeo. You can't do it without help. We couldn't do it without sponsors coming in." Volunteers are another critical factor. "Everything is time consuming. You really need a good group of people who are willing to put the effort in … we have a good core group of folks … we will never turn down anyone who is willing to volunteer."
As for the now 45 year old arena, "In it's basic sense, it is good for rodeos …," Running said. Though the association and the county try to keep it maintained, "We can't keep up with the natural deterioration that occurs. There is a very limited budget the county has for improvements on it. They have been responsive to any needs that we have had. We went to talk to them for one more new light, and the Economic Development Corporation helped with new livestock pens, but that is just to keep up with the rodeo itself. There are so many other things that other rodeos do that we just don't have the funding to do here."
Running says he has ideas for helping the rodeo grow in the future and maintain a more stable financial position. Right now, however, he is focused on this year's rodeo. "It is a good event," he said. "It is good fun and entertainment."
Tickets for the rodeo are $8.00 in advance for adults (13 and up), or $10.00 at the gate. Children under 13 get in free if accompanied by an adult.