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THE SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL SHERIDAN, WYOMING, ELK'S YOUTH RODEO was held on August 29 and 30, 2009. The rodeo's 26 events attracted contestants from Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.  Three arenas, running at the same time, were used to accommodate the 763 entrees each day. This is up from 727 last year. The number of contestants was up from last years 140 to 150.

Cash and awards of $58,170.00 were presented to contestants ages 17 and under.  These consisted of cash and scholarships of $12,026.00 and awards valued at $46,144.00

Megan Belus, 17, from Buffalo, Wyoming won the Senior All Around, a one-year lease of a new Ford truck, provided by Fremont Motors, Sheridan, WY.

Quincy, 11, from Snyder, Colorado won the All Around Youth award, a Jackson three horse slant load trailer, provided by Prime Rate Motors, Sheridan, WY. 

Krissy Vander Voort,9, from Billings, Montana received a $2,000.00 scholarship as the All Around Youth Runner-up. Second Runner-up receiving a $1,000.00 scholarship was Rickie Engesser, 12, from Spearfish, South Dakota.

The Senior Reserve Champion receiving a $2,000.00 scholarship was Jace Melvin, 17, From Ft Pierre South Dakota. The Senior Reserve Runner-up receiving a saddle Was Cole Robinson, 16, From Moorecroft, Wyoming. The saddle for the Intermediate All Around went to Rickie Engesser, 12, from Spearfish, South Dakota. The saddle for the Junior All Around went to Krissy Vander Voort, 9, from Billings, Montana, and the saddle for the pee wee all around went to Anna Getten, 6, from Harlem, Montana.
The other winners are as shown on the attached list.

The Sheridan Elk's Lodge #520 wishes to thank all of the contestants and sponsors for their help in making this possible and is looking forward to holding this event again next year



Elks Youth Rodeo draws in contestants from several states
By Gayle Smith

Nearly 18 years ago, Bob Strauser was at loose ends. His daughter, who had just turned 16, borrowed her mother’s car and headed off to compete in numerous rodeos around their home state of Wyoming. Feeling left behind, Strauser had lost his chauffer job, missed the rodeo way of life and didn’t have anything else to do, so he approached the Sheridan Elks about starting a youth rodeo. The Elks group gave the go ahead and Strauser launched into organizing what has become a premier event that draws competitors from several states.

Strauser, who serves as the Elks Youth Rodeo chairman, said the Elks Youth Rodeo enables children under 17 years of age to compete for substantial prizes that many other rodeos don’t offer. In a letter to sponsors, Strauser wrote, “(The Elks Lodge #520) noticed that children who were involved in rodeo worked and practiced just as hard as the adults and their expenses were as high as the adults, but they never got to compete for substantial prizes. Usually, their prizes were just ribbons and belt buckles.”

The group decided to organize a youth rodeo that was open to all youth, not just ones in specific organizations. They also found enough sponsors to enable them to offer prizes substantial enough that they hoped children would spend their summers practicing hard for the event. Other goals were to keep entry fees low so most children could afford to compete and, most of all, make the event fun and enjoyable for the youth.

With the help of many sponsors, Strauser was able to organize the first Elks Youth Rodeo in 1993. The first rodeo was attended mostly by local children, although they offered a year’s use of a bumper pull trailer and $1,000 and $500 scholarships as prizes. By the next year, the event had caught on and attendance nearly doubled. Competitors came from Montana and South Dakota to compete in the event, although most competitors were still local. Since then, the event has continued to grow.

In 2008, Strauser said the rodeo had 26 events and attracted contestants from eight states. They averaged 727 entries each day and gave away cash and awards of $55,600 to the contestants.

This year’s event will be the 17th annual rodeo. It is scheduled for August 29-30 at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds in Sheridan, Wyoming.  “Over the years, we’ve added events and managed to increase the awards,” Strauser said. “We have also increased the participation.” Last year, they also added a saddle as an award in the peewee division in hopes of getting more youth to compete in that division. “Suddenly, we had twice as many peewee competitors,” he said. “We feel it is important to keep the peewees interested in rodeo because we don’t want to run out of seniors competing in the event someday. We really cater to the peewees.” Strauser noted that children as young as two and a half have competed in the peewee division.

A couple of the highlights of the rodeo that draws in competitors from all over is the opportunity to win a year lease on a new Ford F250 four-wheel drive XLT supercab powerstroke diesel pickup, which is awarded to the senior all-around champion. The use of the pickup is provided by Fremont Motors.

Prime Rate Motors and Jackson Trailer Sales donate a trailer for the youth all-around winner. Strauser said juniors, intermediates and seniors are all eligible to win the trailer, which is determined by the total points each contestant earns. “We’ve had eight-year-olds win the horse trailer and we’ve had seniors win the horse trailer,” Strauser said.

Contestants between seven and 17 are eligible for the all-around youth award, Strauser said. The winner will receive the loaded Jackson three horse slant load gooseneck trailer with a walk-in tack compartment. The reserve champion will receive a $2,000 scholarship and the reserve runner-up will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

To be eligible for the all-around youth award, the contestant must designate at least two and up to five events on their entry form to be accumulated for points. These points will be awarded on a one rider, one horse basis. Points from both go arounds will be combined. Strauser explained they went to a point basis in a maximum number of five events for the all-around to make the contest fair for all age groups. Since the seniors can compete in 10 events, intermediates in eight events and juniors in five events, seniors would have an advantage in the all-around competition if points were accumulated in every event a contestant competes in.

All-around awards will also be presented to each age group from a two-day accumulated total. The senior all-around winner will receive the pickup. The reserve senior all-around will receive a $2,000 scholarship and the reserve runner-up will receive a saddle. The intermediate and junior all-around winners will receive saddles. The reserve champion winners in those divisions will receive custom made breast collars and headstalls with a Tom Balding custom bit. The reserve runner-ups will receive belt buckles.

Strauser said day money will also be awarded in all events for each go around for junior, intermediate and senior age groups.

For participants under age six, every contestant will receive a participation ribbon. The winner in each event will receive a trophy. A large trophy will be presented to the all-around winner. Strauser said this will be repeated in the second go around. A saddle will be awarded to the two-day all around winner, and a buckle to the runner-up based on total points for both days.

Peewee events are pole bending, barrel racing and goat tail tying. Junior events are pole bending, barrel racing, goat tail tying, flag race and ribbon race. Intermediate events are pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying, flag race, ribbon race, breakaway roping, daily team roping and steer stopping. Senior events are pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying, flag race, ribbon race, breakaway roping, daily team roping, steer stopping, ribbon roping, and tie down calf roping.
All of the events are open to both boys and girls. Teams can be any combination – girl-girl, boy-boy, or boy-girl. Entry fees are $6 per event for peewees; and $26 per event for juniors (age 7-9), intermediate (age 10-13) and seniors (age 14-17). There are additional fees for stock charges, stalls, office, and fairgrounds use.

Entry forms for this year’s event can be downloaded from the Elks Youth Rodeo website: www.sheridanelks.org/rodeo/index.htm. They can also be ordered by mail: Elks Youth Rodeo, P.O. Box 624, Sheridan, WY 82801. Entry forms can be picked up at Fremont Motors in Sheridan, Western Services in Gillette, KLGT-KIX Country in Buffalo and Prime Rate Motors in Sheridan. Entry forms need to be postmarked by August 17, 2009.


All photos courtesy of Diana Volk