The gates opened yesterday for the highly anticipated 65th Annual Siloam Springs Rodeo, a beloved tradition in Northwest Arkansas.
As the festivities commenced, Communications Manager Megan Whitworth had the opportunity to sit down with key organizers of the event. They discussed their involvement, cherished traditions, and encouraged the community to support the rodeo.
This year's Siloam Springs Rodeo promises an exhilarating showcase of skill, bravery, and cowboy camaraderie, embodying the enduring spirit of the American West. Attendees can expect a thrilling spectacle that captivates their senses and leaves them with a newfound respect and excitement for this remarkable event.
Kari Hutchins, Secretary of the Siloam Springs Rodeo and Riding Club, shared that the rodeo takes months of preparation, considering factors such as weather, production, safety of animals, and contestants. The event spans three days, from Thursday to Saturday, and serves as a culmination of meticulous planning and dedication.
Jeff Lee, the rodeo announcer, extended a warm invitation to families, emphasizing the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere of the event. He acknowledged the rarity of finding such an environment in today's entertainment landscape and encouraged attendees to bring their loved ones to the annual event.
"Even if you're not a fan of rodeo, our hope is that you'll leave with a newfound respect and excitement for this event," Jeff said. "It encompasses elements of faith, family, and country that are often absent in many sports. For those who appreciate those values, it's an enjoyable night out in town."
For over six decades, the Siloam Springs Rodeo has captivated audiences with electrifying displays of horsemanship, roping prowess, and bull riding bravado. This year's edition continues the rodeo's legacy by showcasing the best talent in professional rodeo, featuring both seasoned veterans and rising stars. Attendees can expect a thrilling display of strength, agility, and sheer determination from the participants.
The Siloam Springs Rodeo is hosted by the Siloam Springs Rodeo and Riding Club, a long-standing organization that traces its roots back to 1944. Karen Davis, a member of the club and Kari's mother, shared her family's deep connection to the rodeo, as her grandparents, parents, and sister have been involved since its early days.
"My dad, several of (the founder club members), put some money up to build this arena and he was one of them. And then the club paid everybody back," Karen said. "The rodeo in 1958 was the first one in this facility."
Harvey Trogdon, president of the Riding Club, expressed his joy in seeing his children and grandchildren fall in love with the sport, emphasizing the rodeo's significance as a part of their family history.
"It's in our blood and it's part of our history," Harvey said. "I mean, everything we do here, our great grandfathers done it. They didn't have pens; you had to rope. ... I've always been fascinated with the Old West. So, that's what really got me into it, but most of my family has always done a little bit of rodeo. My dad is a bareback rider."
"Since my granddaughter was three, she's been here every day. Now, she's 26," he shared. "I have two great-granddaughters and they love horses. And I hope for years to come that we are here to help them, too."
Karen expressed her gratitude for her daughter's involvement in continuing the family tradition. As they work together behind-the-scenes year after year, Karen considers it a significant blessing to have her daughter by her side, especially after shouldering the responsibilities on her own for an extended period.
"I'm immensely thankful because, for a long time, I was the sole person handling sponsorships and other tasks," Karen shared. "But Kari went above and beyond, exceeding all expectations."
Kari shares her mother's passion for the Siloam Springs Rodeo and envisions its growth and prosperity in the years to come.
"I think everybody has the same outlook," she said. "We want to see it get bigger and better every year. Like, what can we do to make it better for the contestants? What can we do to make it better for the spectators? … How can we accommodate everybody so, it's a good, smooth, fun three days out of the year? So, each year we look to see what we can do to improve our facility."
FUN FACT: The historical ties between the Siloam Springs Rodeo and its past can be traced back to the 100-year lease agreement between the rodeo and the City of Siloam Springs. The rodeo grounds occupy city-owned acreage, solidifying a long-standing connection.
Reflecting on the rodeo's journey, Harvey expressed his personal perspective, ""I think from the last 23 years, I've seen this thing go from here to way up here in my books. Maybe I'm biased, but you know, to me, it's just got better and better every year."
With the dedicated efforts of individuals like Karen, Karrie, and Harvey, the Siloam Springs Rodeo is poised to reach new heights, captivating audiences and solidifying its place as a cherished annual event in the region.
The 65th Annual Siloam Springs Rodeo promises to be an unforgettable event that encapsulates the essence of the Wild West while fostering a sense of community, family, and tradition. From thrilling rodeo competitions to engaging family-friendly activities, this rodeo extravaganza offers something for everyone. As spectators cheer on their favorite cowboys and cowgirls, they honor the enduring spirit of the American West and the timeless traditions of the cowboy way of life.
"When you were growing up as a kid, you had dreams of being a firefighter, a policeman, or a cowboy. Every little girl wants to have a pony. So, this rodeo is like a nostalgic journey back to a simpler time," Jeff said. "When you buy a ticket, it taps into something inside you that resonates with the Western spirit. People want to live out that experience, even if it's just once a year. It's like Halloween for the community, and that's what we embrace. We want them to feel the joy and excitement of it all. Even if someone has just watched Yellowstone for the first time and discovers there's a local rodeo, we encourage them to come out and enjoy the show."
For the latest information on the Siloam Springs Rodeo, follow the Siloam Springs Rodeo and Riding Club on Facebook. Tickets are available at the gate.