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The 2020-2021 Kansas State University Rodeo Team and Club. (Courtesy photo)

Rodeo has held tough during the coronavirus pandemic, with some rodeos canceling their events and others postponing. There were hopes 2021 would be better.

Casy Winn, equine instructor and rodeo coach at Kansas State University, announced Jan. 13 their rodeo will not be held during its usual February weekend at Weber Arena on the university’s campus.

“Due to COVID restrictions from Kansas State, Riley County, and Manhattan city we were told we would not be able to host rodeo in Weber Arena as usual,” he said. “We had planned to move rodeo to Domer Arena in Topeka—then in December they became part of hospital overflow and canceled all events.”

Winn and the K-State Rodeo Club looked at several other indoor facilities in Kansas, but just couldn’t find the right fit with finances and scheduling.

“With over 400 contestants there are only a few places that have enough parking and seating to accommodate the rodeo,” Winn said.

The annual K-State Rodeo has been held for 64 years—consecutively—and the club has been active since 1946. The rodeo is produced by club and team members, with officers doing the planning and managing.

“We have 40 to 45 students that actively participate along with some other clubs that help with security and concessions,” Winn said.

K-State is part of the Central Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. The region has more than 400 contestants from 18 schools in Kansas and Oklahoma. Typically the K-State rodeo brings in about 9,000 spectators over its four performances and two slack events, Winn said.

“Sunday short-go is military day,” he said. “We partner with Kansas State Military advisor and the USO at Fort Riley to give away 1,500 tickets for that performance.”

So far all the NIRA rodeos for the 2020-2021 season have been moved to the spring semester. Winn believes some of the rodeos will be ran without fans or have restricted numbers of people at the event.

“Having all rodeos in spring has had some influence on our roster,” Winn said. “We had a couple of team members decide to do internships and put off rodeo until next year.”

As of now, K-State is allowing the students to practice.

According to the schedule on www.collegerodeo.com, the Central Plains region has nine rodeos starting in February with Northwestern Oklahoma State University and ending with Colby Community College being held the last weekend of April.

“With that many weekends of travel we encouraged students to take 12 credits then take summer or intersession classes if needed to stay on track,” he said. “We also have to request travel exemption to travel out of state and agree to follow university COVID guidelines.”

The culmination of the college rodeo season is the annual College National Finals Rodeo, normally held in June. The 2020 event was canceled, and Winn is hopeful the 2021 event will be held.

“As of our coaches meeting last week, the CNFR is planning to go ahead as usual,” he said. “My feeling is that it will happen.”

Despite what the season has turned into, Winn remains hopeful.

“Although this season brings many unique challenges, we are moving forward with plans to reach goals and have a great spring,” Winn said.

For more information about the rodeo club at K-State visit https://www.facebook.com/ksurodeo.

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or kscott@hpj.com.

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