In high school, I was involved in one of the most amazing organizations that you can be apart of, FFA: Future Farmers of America. I was not a farm child one bit, but I found my place being a leader in our FFA chapter. I even served all four years of high school as an officer. Our chapter is just a little bit different from any other chapter in the whole world. Our chapter is the only chapter that has a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeo and it is completely run by the students.
Throughout the school year, the FFA students and adult committee sell the ads it takes to help fund the rodeo. Each sponsor level gets certain benefits that may range from having a banner for your business in the rodeo arena itself or having a tiered listing in our booklet. Students are expected to sell these ads to sponsors in a professional manner, sometimes starting in junior high. It is one of the most nerve-racking things a person could do. In the end, you learn so much about public speaking and professionalism that you use it in other ways in your life.
The next thing that goes into the rodeo is the selection of a specialty act. A specialty act is a kind of like the “Super Bowl Half-Time Show” of the rodeo, although it happens at the end of the rodeo events. The Wapello FFA PRCA Rodeo has seen acts ranging from Cowboy Kenny’s Steel Rodeo to Trick Riders. A lot of thought goes into the selection of the act at the rodeo. This year’s specialty act was Cody Cavanaugh and WI FMX. They were fantastic. The specialty act usually helps to bring more rodeo-goers in.
Before you can have a rodeo, you have to have a rodeo set up. In order to make set up smooth, the FFA and its volunteers work hard months before and especially the week before to make sure the grounds are ready for the two-night event. Our grounds crew does an excellent job of making sure the grounds are well maintained and put together correctly. Because of this, our arena has won the Justin Boots Surest Footing Award. This award is given to an arena the exemplifies the expectations given for a rodeo area. The arena is one of the best in the Great Lakes Circuit. The chutes and the stock are product of the Barnes Rodeo Company. Barnes is a stock company from Iowa and is no stranger to the PRCA National Rodeo Finals along with several other rodeos. The Wapello FFA has a strong friendship with the Barnes family.
Along with having a rodeo set up, our chapter has a whole committee of adults who help ease the process. They help with concessions, grounds, selling ads, ticket sales, banners, t-shirts and other things. Honestly, without them, we would not have as great of a rodeo. At the head of our rodeo adult committee, we have the most amazing president: Valerie Vineyard. Without her, the rodeo planning and the rodeo itself would not have run as smoothly. The planning throughout the whole year is made at rodeo meetings and by the students and advisors. One of Wapello’s former advisors, Irv Meier, also has a huge part in the rodeo planning. He has been at it for quite a few years and is always helping put this rodeo together.
Finally, we get to the rodeo. There is no way to describe the way you feel when you finally get to the event itself. A rodeo that at one time, not so long ago, I was a part of planning came together so perfectly. You wait all year for a rodeo that brings in cowboys from all over the county and from a few different countries. The most exciting thing you get to experience as a high school student. The biggest success of any FFA event in Wapello. There are no words for how that feels. Without the loyalty of the FFA student, adult committee, and all the volunteers there would be no rodeo.
For more information about the rodeo, you can visit this website!