Submitted by Ken McLemore/HPS Communications Director
The 58th edition of the Hope High School FFA Rodeo is in the chute and ready to stomp into the Hope Fair Park Coliseum Arena.
The three-night event April 6-8 was the focus of a presentation Monday by FFA President Laith Zimmer and FFA Vice President Summer King to the Hope Lions Club. Zimmer and King, both seniors, are among the veterans of the all-student production organized and performed by FFA members and Hope Public Schools students.
Tickets are $5 each for each night of the rodeo.
“It is the longest-running student organization event in the state of Arkansas,” Zimmer said.
Rodeo action opens on Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m. with Old Timer’s Night, he said. Events during that performance are geared toward testing the skills of former FFA members and HHS alumni from within the previous five years.
Zimmer said Old Timer’s events include chute dogging, team roping, calf roping, wild steer tagging and barrel racing.
Barrel racing events, which are part of the Old Timer’s and student contests, have evolved, according to King. She said some timed equestrian events have traditionally been girls’ events, but those are opening to both boys and girls.
And, while the female FFA membership has traditionally overseen most of the youngster events such as mutton busting, pig scramble and pig dressing, the girls are breaking into more events, King said.
Students competing in Little Britches Bull Riding must submit an official entry form signed by a parent and notarized no later than April 3. Students in elementary grades competing in certain other events must also submit an official entry form signed by a parent and notarized. Forms may be obtained by contacting the agriculture studies department at Hope High School.
Student events for the two nights of regular competition include bareback horse riding, calf haltering, hide ride, junior bull riding, goat tying, calf roping, pig scramble, wild steer tagging, mutton busting, barrel pickup, chute dogging, barrel racing, bull riding, pole bending, and pig dressing.
Belt buckles are awarded to winners in most events and for overall skill to an all-around cowboy and all-around cowgirl. King said financial support for the prize awards are possible because of community donations and specific family endowments for certain events.
Funds raised from the rodeo finance FFA chapter competition activities, as well as provide scholarships to HHS students, according to Zimmer.
He said some student entry fees are charged, such as a $1 fee for a Little Britches Bull Riding contest, as well as a $5 entry fee for some other contests.
But, entry fees and gate tickets do not cover all costs involved, Zimmer said.
“We can’t do it without the donations from the community,” Zimmer said.
A Junior Queen competition will be included, again, this year. Junior Queen contestants must submit an official entry form signed by a parent and notarized by March 31. Contestants must also provide their own horse to ride in the grand entry and contest.