PHILLIPSBURG — Diana Hanchett doesn’t mind standing in line.
And every July, usually on the first day of the month, she gets out of bed early to stand in line, to buy Phillipsburg rodeo tickets.
The Phillipsburg native makes sure she’s towards the beginning of the line at Heritage Insurance in Phillipsburg on the first day that ticket sales start. She’s rarely been lower than fourth in line, although last year, she was sixth.
She doesn’t usually have to take a chair; she’s early enough to sit on the bench outside the business, located at 685 Third in Phillipsburg.
Hanchett has gone to the rodeo since she was a kid, but for the last 30 years, she’s never missed a year of it, going to the Saturday show and sometimes the Friday show, and always sitting in the same seats.
Her family joins her: husband Blaine and their kids Michelle Brown and Michael Johnson, plus Michelle’s boyfriend Marvin Fehlman, Michelle’s two sons and Michael’s daughter and twin sons. Of Hanchett’s five grandkids, two are married and the others have had boyfriends and girlfriends, who have come to the rodeo as well.
Rodeo time is the perfect time for family reunions, and Hanchett’s family gathers in Phillipsburg. Michael and his family come from San Antonio, Texas and Hanchett’s sister, who lives in New Hampshire, makes the trek to Phillipsburg every four or five years. Hanchett’s brothers, both Coloradoans, also make the trip. Required school and sports obligations have occasionally kept a few grandkids from the rodeo the last few years, but Hanchett says, “being at grandma’s is required,” she laughed.
The family gathers for the parade on Saturday as well, putting up a canopy and setting up chairs along the parade route. Then they gather for a barbecue before heading out to the rodeo grounds for the final performance. The reunion often includes friends and other relatives.
When she was in high school, Hanchett worked as an usher at the rodeo, wearing rodeo shirts provided for them by the rodeo association. “We took tickets and made sure everybody found their seats. It was a lot of fun.”
Her mom, Betty Murphy, who turned 86 this year, also comes with the group.
Hanchett’s favorite part of the rodeo is the barrel racing, the bull riding and the clowns. The clowns “make” the rodeo, she said.
There’s protocol for the Phillipsburg rodeo ticket line. People know who is in line ahead of or behind them, so if they get out of line to sit in their cars, their spots are saved when the office open at 8 am.
And while she’s in line getting her tickets, there’s time to visit, make new friends and renew old acquaintances. The people in line are usually the same people, “people I know,” she said, “but sometimes the only time I see them is (in line), and it’s a really good place to catch up. You have the chance to visit, so it helps the time go by.”
And on July 2, Hanchett will be back in line again, waiting for the office to open, visiting with fellow ticket buyers, and buying rodeo tickets for the family.
Tickets for Kansas Biggest Rodeo go on sale July 2 at Heritage Insurance. Heritage Insurance is open from 8 am to 5 pm and closed from noon to 1 p p.m. each day. All reserved seats are $18 for adults and $14 for kids ages 3-12. General admission for Thursday, August 2 is $15 for adults and $11 for kids ages 3-12. General admission for Friday, August 3 and Saturday, August 4 is $16 for adults and $12 for kids ages 3-12.
Tickets can be purchased over the phone with a credit card by calling Heritage Insurance at (785) 543.2448.
More information can be found online at www.KansasBiggestRodeo.com.