Published 5/31/2011 in Beef Empire Days
By BRETT MARSHALL
When you think of rodeos, you obviously think of cowboys, cowgirls, horses, bulls and everything else that makes for a successful professional event.
Laurie Sisk/Telegram Cowboys line up on horseback to watch other competitors and wait for their turns to compete in the 2010 Beef Empire Days Ranch Rodeo.
Brad Nading/Telegram Ty Clearwater, of La Cygne, competes in the bull riding competition at the 2010 Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo.
Brad Nading/Telegram Cowboys wait their turn to compete in the tie down roping competition as flags around the arena blow in the wind during the opening day of the 2010 Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo at the Finney County Fairgrounds.
For Garden Citian Rod Wolking, he thinks of family, friends, volunteers and the professionals who come to participate each year at the Beef Empire Days Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo.
Wolking is the current president of the BED PRCA Rodeo Committee and is serving in that volunteer capacity for the second time.
It's a love affair that has come full circle for him and his family.
"I got started in this when he (son) was a year old and now he'll be 23, so this is our 22nd year to help with the rodeo," Wolking said.
This year's PRCA Rodeo will be June 8 through 11, with the slack competition on June 8 and the nightly events being held June 9 through 11 at the Fairgrounds Arena.
"My wife (Robin) comes from a family that was involved with horses, an equestrian background, so the rodeo thing just comes natural to us," Wolking said. "We met here in Garden City, and we just really enjoy the rodeo, the people and what it means to have an event like this in Garden City."
Wolking and his wife have three children, all of whom have assisted and/or competed in rodeo events through the years.
"We've enjoyed every minute of it," Wolking said. "Livestock is just a lifelong thing with us. We've done 4-H Pleasure, we've raised cattle, pigs, horses and we've done cutting competition."
Wolking said it is the historical part of the western way of life that appeals to him and his family, thus the countless donated hours to the rodeo planning.
"I think it's the heritage that rodeo personifies," Wolking said. "Cowboys are a dying breed, they're hard to find. They make their living based upon each performance. There's no guarantee for them if they have a bad ride."
Wolking has competed in team roping with sons Adam and Alex.
"It's the most fun thing I do, competing with them," Wolking said. "It gives us things to do together, and we're working as a team and not just as a father/son."
Wolking said there are approximately 40 persons on the rodeo committee in any given year and they donated hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to the overall conduct of the rodeo.
"We've got a lot of people who've been on the committee for 15, 20 or more years," Wolking said. "They do a great job and without them, the rodeo wouldn't happen. We'd also like to see some new people come in and get started. This is a big thing for Garden City. We want to showcase our community when these professionals come to town."
Wolking said the BED event was the first to use a big public address system that incorporates different music into its presentation during the competition.
"We were a trendsetter in many things," Wolking said.
The PRCA president said that he has committees to oversee the event's production, grounds care, ticket sales, publicity and a host of other chores.
"This is a 365 days-a-year thing for us, and we work just to break even on the rodeo," Wolking said. "We've got a lot of great sponsors and without them, this would not be where it is today. Everything is well organized — the committees just kind of run themselves."
As with anything that comes with conducting an event outdoors, Wolking's big concern is the weather — specifically rain and high wind.
"We cross our fingers at least that it won't rain during the brief time the rodeo is held," Wolking said. "If it rains, it makes the event messy and it keeps people away. If it's nice, then people really like coming out to see the cowboys and cowgirls."
For more information on the Beef Empire Days Rodeo, call 276-1000 or call Wolking at 260-7970. More details are available at www.beefempiredaysrodeo.com.
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