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 […]
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Meet the Rodeo Company K Bar K Rodeo Company
story by Michele Toberer
With a lifetime of experience in rodeo, Joe Don Griffin and Kim Stewart joined forces to start J Bar K Rodeo Company three years ago. Based out of Sweetwater, Tennessee, J Bar K primarily produces rodeos across the states of Tennessee and Georgia and has focused on International Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned and co-sanctioned events from the beginning. “Joe Don and I are a good team and we both have long-standing connections to the IPRA. We met at the IFR 10 years ago. We have many of the same ideas about the direction we want to go with rodeos, and we have the same end goal. We love working with the IPRA because they are a family-oriented organization that also strives to be bigger and better every day.”
Currently, J Bar K Rodeo Company produces approximately 5 to 8 IPRA rodeos each season and they look forward to that number growing in the future. They’re especially proud of the company’s bucking stock they own and maintain on their 150-acre ranch. They have 35 head of bareback and saddle bronc horses and 15 bulls. “We have some colts we’ve raised that we’ll start bucking this year, so we’re excited to see them perform. We keep all of our stock on a daily feeding program, and when bringing new stock in, we look for big-boned stocky horses that have good personalities and are easy to work with.” Two of the J Bar K superstars are saddle bronc horses; a big sorrel paint, #1177 Cowboy Wisdom, and an 8-year-old grey mare, #039 Abby, that have each been to the IFR twice. Cowboy Wisdom has also been to the NFR; but you wouldn’t guess he was so wild and wooly in the arena if you saw him following Kim around the pasture waiting to get loved on.
Kim was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina and was immersed in rodeo life from the beginning. Her parents, Jim Bob and Joyce Stewart were deeply involved in rodeo across the southeast and have been instrumental in the rodeo careers of many rodeo athletes in North Carolina. The IPRA has been a family affair for Kim, with her younger brother, Brad Stewart, a multiple-time IFR steer wrestling qualifier, as well as her son, Austin Stewart, who has qualified for the IFR twice in saddle bronc riding, and has been an IFR trick-roping performer at three IFR events. Kim spent many years competing in junior, high school, and open rodeos as a barrel racer and breakaway roper. She’s also spent many years working as a rodeo secretary and is the main secretary for the J Bar K rodeos they produce. When Kim isn’t working on rodeos they have in the works, she is working as a territory manager for Ariat.
Joe Don hails from Mansfield, Texas where his start in rodeo was as a timed event contestant. While in Texas during the late 1990’s, he ran All-Star Rodeo Company, owned by Don Gay. He took that experience on to contracting stock himself, and is an IPRA Gold Card Member, providing stock for IPRA rodeos for over a decade. He spends many hours on the road between rodeos, as he works as a driver for Horizon Transport. While the rodeo world has been on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Joe Don has hauled even more special cargo, as J Bar K helped with donating several loads of food and water to the tornado victims in Chatsworth, Georgia.
J Bar K is looking forward to the rodeo schedule opening up again and preparing for their third annual IPRA rodeo at the fairgrounds in Sevierville, Tennessee, on August 7th and 8th; as well as their second annual, Gay, Georgia IPRA rodeo which has been postponed from its original date in June to September 18th and 19th, 2020. “With the virus, most of the rodeo season is really picking up later this year, and we think that contestants are going to really be ready to get back in the arena when it does.” “We’re prepared to do whatever we need to do to follow any mandates and make the event as safe as possible for staff, contestants, and spectators.” With each rodeo and each year, J Bar K Rodeo Company hopes to keep building a bigger and better future for all.