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Hometown rodeo a thrill for drill team





PHILLIPSBURG -- The Prairie Dusters Drill Team travels the region every summer, showing their skills at various rodeos. But there's nothing like coming "home" for Kansas' Biggest Rodeo.

"The horses and the members all get pretty geared up to perform at Phillipsburg," said Roberta Quanz-McCormack, Agra, the lone original member of the Prairie Dusters. "Since it is such a large arena, we are able to accommodate more of us to perform there."

Kansas' Biggest Rodeo in Phillipsburg is Thursday through Saturday, with performances beginning each night at 8.

The 20-member drill team hails from the Phillipsburg area -- some coming from as far as Hill City and Nebraska to practice in Logan each week.

The drill team started 27 years ago and performs at least a half a dozen times each summer at rodeos, then caps its season at the Logan Labor Day Celebration. From carrying flags during the opening of each rodeo performance to performing drills at intervals throughout the rodeo, the Prairie Dusters have played a huge role in rodeos this year in Plainville and Hays and will again this week in Hill City and Phillipsburg. The slate of rodeos changes every year, Quanz-McCormack said, with past travels including Cheyenne, Wyo., North Platte, Neb., Manhattan and Ruidoso, N.M.

The group relies on fundraising to support it. Money raised helps pay for new flags, attire and tack.

"We have had some generous donations, so this year, we have new pink breast collars and head stalls that we will be wearing Tuesday at Hill City and Thursday at Phillipsburg in support of Tough Enough to Wear Pink and breast cancer," Quanz-McCormack said.

A fundraiser will be under way during Kansas' Biggest Rodeo, with prizes including a saddle and iPad 2 to be given away Saturday night.

The Prairie Dusters will perform for a large audience at Kansas' Biggest Rodeo, which has more than 400 contestants entered for the three-night event.

Other entertainment during the rodeo includes Slim Garner, a rodeo clown and barrelman, and the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, an all-women's trick riding and trick roping group.

As part of the rodeo festivities, a parade, sponsored by the Phillipsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, will be at 2 p.m. Saturday. A highlight of the parade is the Chain Ranch Longhorns, a herd of longhorn steers scheduled to be driven through downtown Phillipsburg. The herd will be kept at the rodeo grounds for fans to view during the rodeo.

Tickets are available at Heritage Insurance Group, Phillipsburg, and by calling (785) 543-2448. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.kansasbiggestrodeo.com.

*  The Jayhawker Roundup Rodeo begins today in Hill City. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. today through Wednesday at the arena on the south side of town. Tickets are $12 at the gate.