SAN ANGELO, Texas – Thousands of hours of planning and volunteers make the San Angelo Rodeo possible each year.
Despite a global pandemic, the rodeo, though pushed to April , went on and had a record number of people in attendance. The committee also voted to add more than $100,000 to the total prize money contestants could win.
During the first performance, it was announced that the San Angelo Rodeo is now one of the top 5 in the world. With that comes increased pressure and responsibility. However, the rodeo staff and committee members say they can trust each person who helps put the rodeo on.
“There’s people everywhere. A lot of moving parts,” Casey Baize, Chute Boss for the roughstock events said.
Baize says that he, Arena Director Rory Lemmel, and Chute Boss for the timed events, Andy Hilton, all have to make split second decisions.
“You’ve got to be quick on your feet,” Baize said.
With this large of a production, each one of the staff members and volunteers have a specific job.
“You have to trust everyone to do their job. We’ve got a great team here,” Taylor Lockhoof, Rodeo Assistant, said.
Production meetings take place at least two hours before each rodeo performance where ever detail is discussed.
“It’s all planned out. That’s vital,” Baize said.
Scripts, pyrotechnics, buck orders, day sheets, and more are discussed in these production meetings. There are also many ongoing tasks like taking care of the stock, cleaning the coliseum and fairgrounds, and keeping track of the books. Keeping the public updated and informed is also a priority.
Brooklyn Dendle, Social Media Specialist, says accurate, engaging content featured on the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo social media pages is her priority.
“We want to have the best content we can to make sure that everyone sees that we are holding ourselves to a standard that keeps us one of the best in the world,” Dendle said.
Another reason the San Angelo Rodeo is considered to be one of the best is for the many ways in which it gives back to the community.
One Sunday performance each year is designated as Children’s Miracle Network Day.
The “miracle kids'” stories are told and then, they are driven around the arena. Donations are collected from the audience. Those funds go directly to families of children who are struggling with various medical conditions or situations. These funds ensure that the children can receive treatment at no cost to the families.
A new group featured during several rodeo performances this year was a nonprofit called Shadow Warriors Project.
“The Shadow Warriors project was created by Mark Geist, a private security contractor, who was injured while protecting the people inside the CIA security Annex from a terror attack on September 12, 2012,” the nonprofit’s website explains.
“Telling my story is something that has really helped me,” Geist explains. “It’s not just your combat story, it’s your life story. A lot of us, we come into the military because we’re running from something or running to something so by the time we get to the military our bucket is half full so if you don’t unload it sometime, it overtakes you.”
Geist says his nonprofit’s goal is to not only help private contactors and their families financially or through support and therapeutic programs, it is also to give away 10 to 15 service dogs to private contractors and veterans each year.
These K-9s are trained by an Ontario, Canada based business that Shadow Warriors Project partners with called Baden K-9.
“Our mission has remained the same for over fifty years. That is to breed, train, and provide the very best dogs in the world today. Christian based, family owned, Baden K-9,” their website states.
Joshua Perry’s parents founded Baden K-9 in the 1970s. Perry also traveled to Texas and participated in the presentation. He says that when he travels, he looks for his purpose.
“I always ask, ‘Lord, why am I here?'” Perry said.
Perry says he was impressed and encouraged by the amount of faith the rodeo crowd had and says the arena athletes are similar to folks like him, each warriors in their own right.
“It’s an honor to be here and to see Jesus in and around this and it’s humbling,” Perry said.