story by Lindsay Humphrey What was once the capital of the Oklahoma territory – Kingfisher – is now the host of a rodeo that celebrates […]
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Meet the Member: Tyler Garten
story by Ruth Nicolaus
The Gunslinger Rodeo Series is a welcome addition to Kansas winters. The Kansas Pro Rodeo Association sanctioned events are held in Kingman and give cowboys and cowgirls a reason to get off the couch in the off-season, onto a horse, and back into the arena.
Tyler Garten has produced the rodeos since 2011, and picks two or three days a year, usually in November and March, to host the rodeos. The rodeos are held on Saturdays, with two rodeos per day, giving contestants two chances to win checks each day.
The next Gunslinger rodeo is March 12, with the first rodeo in the morning and the second rodeo in the evening. There will be an average paid on the day’s two runs.
Entries for the November 2015 rodeos were full, with twenty to thirty contestants for each of the timed events. People come from Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Oklahoma to compete, Garten said. “It’s nice to be able to come down here and get to run at two different sets of money.”
Garten hires the announcer, bullfighters, secretary and timers, and secures sponsorships to pay for them as well as for the building and the ambulance. No money is added to the purse, but even then, the payouts are good: first place in the tie-down roping at the November event paid $540.
In the past, prizes for average winners were pistols, or the cash to buy the pistol. This year, Garten is working with Yeti coolers to give away coolers and cups.
The Gunslingers Rodeo Series is KPRA first-approved, and co-approved by the Central Plains Rodeo Association.
Garten, 33, has been putting on events since his college days at Northwestern Oklahoma State in Alva. He’s done tie-down roping events, and about eight years ago, put on a benefit tie-down roping for Junior Lewis, who helped him with his roping and was well known as a calf horse trainer. In the first year of the event, the benefit roping raised $10,000 to help Lewis pay medical bills. Since Lewis passed away, the roping has been held in his memory.
Garten follows in his grandpa’s footsteps as a rodeo producer. His grandpa, Frank Dodge, partnered with Frank Smith to produce the first rodeos in Kingman and Alva, Okla., and also put on junior and open rodeos.
Chessica, Tyler’s wife, is the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Kingman High School. Her FFA students run the concessions stand at the Gunslinger Rodeos as a fundraiser.
Garten, who steer wrestles and team ropes in addition to tie-down roping, has qualified for the Prairie Circuit Finals three times and the KPRA and Central Plains Finals numerous times. He’s won the tie-down average twice, the year-end steer wrestling once, and the all-around once at the Central Plains Finals. He and Chessica will welcome their first child, a boy, in late January.