Bronc Rumford has been associated with all 51 of the previous Fort Hays State University rodeos, so he has witnessed competitors rope and ride through all kinds of weather.
However, neither rain nor wind nor even snow deter rodeo contestants. So it doesn’t bother Rumford, a former standout on the FHSU rodeo team and now head coach for his alma mater’s rodeo club, that there is a chance of rain in the forecast for this year’s event.
The 52nd annual FHSU NIRA Rodeo is scheduled for Friday through Sunday at Doug Philip Arena, located on Golf Course Road, a half mile west of U.S. Highway 183 Alternate.
“As badly as we need rain, I’m not going to complain if it rains,” Rumford said.
Rain or shine, the rodeo has gone on, and this year is no different.
About 500 contestants from 21 schools will converge on Hays for the three-day event, held at the arena named in honor of the man who helped start the first rodeo club at FHSU back in the mid 1960s.
The public performances are set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. But there is a plethora of other activities for fans to take in, too.
Those include a costume ribbon roping Friday night; the Wild Ride, riding bucking horses with costumes, Saturday night; and a freestyle bullfighting exhibition all three days. The 2018 FHSU rodeo queen will be crowned Friday night.
Contestants will compete in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, breakaway roping, goat tying, barrel racing, steer wrestling and team roping.
The top three individuals in points in each individual event, as well as the top two teams, in each of the 11 regions across the country qualify for the College National Finals June 10-16 in Casper, Wyo.
Several FHSU competitors still have a shot at making nationals, should they place well in the final two rodeos on the Central Plains Region circuit.
Rumford has been attending FHSU’s rodeos since he was a youngster because his family’s business, Rumford Rodeo Co. out of Abbyville, supplied the stock for the rodeo for 45 years. Like always, he thinks fans are in for a treat.
“In my opinion, this is the toughest region in college rodeo,” Rumford said. “Other regions are just as tough when you’re talking the best against the best, but most of the other regions don’t have as much depth that ours does.”
Rumford said the rodeo provides a little bit of everything. Prior to Saturday night’s competition, there will be an appreciation dinner alumni of the rodeo club, current members and their parents and sponsors. Sunday’s activities will begin with a 10 a.m. church service called Cowboy Church.
“There will be some spills of course, some thrills and a lot of excitement,” he said.
Tickets are available for purchase at several locations in Hays: the Student Service Center in the FHSU Memorial Union; the FHSU rodeo office, Albertson Hall 213A; Orscheln’s Farm and Home Center, 2900 Broadway Ave.; and Vanderbilt’s, Inc., 2704 Vine St., Suite A.
Prices for advanced ticket sales are $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 6 to 15. Tickets also can be purchased at the gate for $12 (adults) and $8 (children). Those 5 and under will be admitted free, as will FHSU students, with their Tiger ID card.