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Featured Rodeo: McCook, NE
By Ruth Nicolaus
The McCook, Neb. rodeo is a win-win-win for everyone involved.
For the cowboys and cowgirls, it’s another chance to compete and win a check.
For the two associations involved, the Kansas Pro Rodeo Association and the Nebraska State Rodeo Association, it’s another chance for contestants to earn a spot towards the finals.
And for college rodeo kids, it’s a chance to make a run or ride and earn money for the Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team Booster Club.
The McCook rodeo takes place twice a year: once in March as a full rodeo, and once in November as a timed event rodeo. It was started six years ago by Garrett Nokes, an all-around hand, and it was the first rodeo north of the Kansas border to be first-approved by the KPRA. Nokes switches first approval for each rodeo: one will be first-approved KPRA and second-approved NSRA, and the second rodeo is first-approved NSRA and second-approved KPRA.
Two rodeos are held each weekend, with slack at noon and the performance in the evening. Nokes estimates that last year there were about thirty contestants in each event.
As the timed event coach for the Mid-Plains Community College, Nokes’ rodeo athlete students use the March rodeo as a fundraiser. They do all the volunteer work: concessions, ticket taking, sponsorships, behind the chutes, whatever needs to be done. Nokes likes the experience it gives them. “Very few contestants respect the amount of work and the hours volunteers put in to put on a rodeo. It’s part of the learning experience of rodeo and I think it’s very, very good for these kids. When they hit the professional level, they’ll understand what the volunteers are doing. They’ll be more apt to walk up to a committeeman and say thank you. Without that, we don’t have rodeos. If we raise a generation of kids who don’t respect that, and don’t show their gratitude, you get less and less volunteers each year and we don’t have a way to make a living.”
Nokes also believes in helping out the city of McCook, and his back to back rodeos help with that. “It’s good for the town. (The city) is all about keeping people in town for two days.”
This year’s spring rodeo is March 19-20.
The rodeo benefits greatly because of the good relationship between the KPRA and the NSRA. “There’s a really good cooperation between the Nebraska and Kansas associations,” he said. “With our location (McCook is fifteen miles north of the Kansas border), my rodeos wouldn’t survive without both associations. I can’t do it with just one. The fact that both associations work together and help keep everybody involved makes it good for everybody.”