By Jack King
One night this week Karen McDaniel stayed at the rodeo arena well past midnight getting a veterinarian for a contestant whose horse was coming down with colic.
One night last year she and her husband, Cory, stayed until 3:30 a.m., digging up and repairing a broken water line.
But, McDaniel said, that’s characteristic of the dedication shown by the many volunteers whose efforts make the junior rodeo possible.
Approximately 30 people volunteered to put on the High Plains Junior Rodeo Finals this year, said Ronnie Brooks, director of the rodeo finals committee. Volunteers include members of the committee’s board of directors, who do everything from soliciting equipment, hay, money and prizes to driving tractors and manning gates during the competition to put on the six-day event this week at the Curry County Fairgrounds.
They also include people who staff the admissions tent, work security, pick up trash and do a dozen other unspectacular and unheralded — but essential — jobs. This year that has included 12 members of Clovis High School’s Junior ROTC, the New Mexico 21 “Wildcat Group.”
The volunteers’ efforts are “all important,” Brooks said. “Because if we had to pay people to put the rodeo on, we couldn’t afford to put it on.”
The volunteers’ reasons for putting in their long, hot, dust-choked hours at the arena vary.
“It’s fun to watch,” said Junior ROTC member Suzy Blanchette,
“It’s fun. It gets us out of the house and gives us something to do,” said Laura Prestage, another ROTC member.
On second thought, she added, “Pretty horses, cute guys.”
Several of the older volunteers said they got involved because their sons, daughters or grandchildren compete in rodeo events.
Wilma Fulgham, a five-year volunteer who was chairwoman of the this year’s registration committee, noted proudly that her son Jerry had a long-time involvement with the American Junior Rodeo Association and her son Larry won team roping at the rodeo when he was 17.
Kendall Terry, who along with other board members, collected more than $100,000 to fund the rodeo and for prizes at association’s end-of-the-year awards — and who was also out at the fairgrounds Friday rolling barrels and setting up poles — said he got involved when his twins Rana and Payton began to compete.
But, when asked who had worked the hardest to put the High Plains Junior Rodeo on, all the volunteers pointed at someone else. Terry gave the credit to Brooks.
“He’s done a lot, overseen the whole local committee, and he’s been here Monday through Saturday,” he said.
But, when asked about the comment, Brooks shook his head.
“I haven’t done a lot,” he said. “Some of those others have done ten times as much.”