Meet the Rodeo Company Rockin’ K Rodeo
story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
story by Lindsay King
Blythewood, South Carolina, is one of the fastest growing communities in the state and has boasted a premiere rodeo for the past eight years. “The rodeo has allowed Blythewood to maintain its western roots, the nucleus of the town is still the down-home country town, living the simple life,” said Buck Coggins, rodeo producer for the Blythewood Doko IPRA Rodeo. The event was held June 1st-2nd and consistently draws contestants and spectators from as far away as Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. “We do a zip code survey every year just so we have an idea of where everyone is coming from. Fifty percent of our spectators are traveling over 25 miles to the rodeo and about 10 percent are traveling over 100 miles.” Averaging out at 5,000 spectators the past three years, a significant portion of the crowd travels a long way to Blythewood. “The town bends over backwards to make this a successful event each year. The town is essentially the presenting sponsor.” Two new national sponsors this year include Ariat and American Hats.
The rodeo started after the town tried several other events in an attempt to grow their tourism and become a top destination. “My first job was with U.S. Tobacco in promotion and sales, we did a lot with NASCAR and rodeo. I got baptized in rodeo promotion early on.” When the town was looking for an event, Buck and his wife of 21 years Kristi brought the rodeo idea up. “We also are developing a farm with an arena, amphitheater, old cabin and farm machinery that kids can’t see anywhere else. They can come by and visit in school groups. The arena will be used for young folks for practice, just whatever the need is.” Kristi and Buck focus on producing wholesome family entertainment. “I am a builder by trade and Kristi retired as a college golf coach a few years ago. We do a rodeo in Blythewood for the love of it, the kids and the community.”
Both the spectator and contestant count seem to grow each year. “We are blessed to have pretty much filled the house each of the two nights of the rodeo for the past three years. We are fortunate to be involved with the IPRA, as well as Ken and Pam Treadway as our stock contractor. They have helped us from day one in everything. We would not be here without them.” Several years have drawn 150 competitors for each performance. “We are very hospitable to our spectators and competitors, that has been the biggest key to our success. We always provide the contestants with free watermelon. Everyone that sees us throughout the year at a rodeo asks about the watermelon. They know our main concern in Blythewood is for their safety with good dirt to compete on and great livestock to compete against and on.”
Buck uses a grass field located just off the interstate owned by U-Haul where he builds an entire stadium each year, only the ghost of the rodeo remains the following Monday. “We always work with Pam to develop a meaningful theme for our grand entry. We work hard to substantiate that theme throughout the community.” This year’s theme was American Heritage. For the first time, the rodeo has box seats around the entire arena available. “We always have kids climbing on the fences, but the box seats really help with that. They have been well received by our corporate sponsors and allowed us to maximize our seating capacity.” Everything invested in the rodeo comes back to the community through private donations from Buck and Kristi. “We also use a lot of young community groups to help us with the rodeo, to teach them work ethic and project development. We financially support that and it has worked out well for us.” Buck’s favorite aspect of the entire rodeo is the crowd. “Our spectators are dialed in, they understand and appreciate rodeo. It has brought continuity to a community that is a diverse and continually growing area.” The tradition of the Blythewood rodeo is something Buck and the community look forward to with anticipation every year.
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