story by Michele Toberer Nineteen-year-old BJ Billingsley has been a member of the Arkansas Cowboys Association for four years, competing as a tie-down roper. BJ […]
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Meet the Member Kara Byars
story by Michele Toberer
Rodeo family is something that many competitors appreciate about the lifestyle; and when you grow up in an association like Kara Byars has in the Arkansas Cowboys Association from the time she was just 13 years old, that rodeo family becomes an integral part of you are. That’s why she is happy to give back to the association, serving on the Board of Directors and as the ACA Barrel Racing Director, where she not only obtains sponsors for the barrel racing division, voices opinions and concerns of barrel racers, but also is involved in producing the Little Partners Rodeo the ACA holds for special-needs children each year. Juggling these duties along with her private practice as a trial attorney and her own rodeo competition is no easy feat, but a life she is very grateful to be living.
Born and raised in Charlotte, Arkansas, running barrels was a part of her life from the beginning, as a third-generation barrel racer following in the footsteps of her mom, Aralene Byars, and grandmother, Gwen Young, now deceased. Kara’s mom is a teacher, and her dad Ron Byars is a county road foreman. Ron isn’t a rodeo competitor, but Kara credits him for being an incredibly supportive rodeo dad. Kara’s younger sister, Kayla Turner a middle school principal, competed when younger but moved on to other sports as she got older. “I ran barrels from a very young age but didn’t start going to rodeos until my early teens when I would hitch rides with my uncle, Dean Holman, who worked as a rodeo announcer.” Once Kara got the taste of the rodeo environment, she knew that was where she wanted to be, and continued competing in the ACA through high school and after college.
“I took a break from competing during college and law school because I really wanted to focus on my education. As soon as I graduated from law school, I got right back into it though.” Kara is in her 8th year as a partner of the general trial practice, Tiner, Cobb, and Byars, in Harrisburg, Arkansas. “I don’t really remember why I wanted to be a lawyer, but from as far back as I can remember I had that goal. I’m so glad that I did because it’s been really good to me. We get a little bit of everything when it comes to cases here in Harrisburg. I am glad to be in private practice because although the workload is not light, I do have flexibility in my schedule allowing me to compete as a barrel racer.”
Kara has really enjoyed helping host the special needs children’s rodeo and sharing her love of rodeo with many young children. “The Little Partners Rodeo was started by my friend Ashley Watkins, who was the barrel racing director before me, and is held during the ACA finals. This year we had 50 kids present! The ACA finals contestants come in full dress code and help the kids with activities like stick horse barrel racing, dummy roping, simulated bucking bulls, and horse and pony rides. We feed the guests pizza and give them t-shirts and try to give them a really fun experience with rodeo that they won’t forget.”
Looking forward to her own competition in 2020 with her 8-year-old sorrel mare, Kool-Aid, Kara is glad to be competing in a sport that she loves and doing her part to keep the ACA strong. “The ACA is full of longtime friends and every year new people are added to the rodeo family. My boyfriend, Josh Hamby is also an ACA competitor and serves on the board as the team roping director. It’s great to be a part of an association and see people that once competed against each other now competing with their kids and grandkids. The ACA has been really good to me, and I want to see the ACA stay strong so it can be around for my nephews when they grow up.”