Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo moves event to the end of September
STEPHENVILLE, Texas – More people needed more of a chance to see a great event.
“We wanted to accommodate our little town, and we want to make a bigger and better rodeo,” said Chad Decker, the chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Lone Star Arena.
“With college kids in town, our population doubles,” Decker said. “In June, the college population wasn’t here. We’re trying to do the best job for the community.
“We’re also trying to get the cowboys and cowgirls. Now that it’s one of the last rodeos of the year, we feel like we’re going to be the rodeo they’ll all want to get to. We’ve got some Texas Circuit guys that are on the bubble for the circuit finals, and we’ve got some guys that are trying to make the NFR that are on the bubble. We’re giving them the chance to make it.”
That’s quite a drawing card, and fans will expect to see some great things happening inside Lone Star Arena.
“We’ve got a great facility, a covered arena with all the amenities,” Decker said. “We’ve got a great cowboy church, and we’ll have chuck wagon meals for the contestants. That’ll be a neat deal where they can get a home-cooked meal while they’re here.”
Those are great amenities, but there is also something about the competition. Roughstock cowboys will test their talents on some of the best livestock in the game provided by Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based stock contractor that has produced the Stephenville rodeo for several years. But Erath County and the surrounding area is chalk full of great timed-event contestants, too.
“For our demographics, we have several guys that live in our 100-square-mile area that can come in here and compete for circuit points for the circuit finals,” Decker said. “It was a change that needed to take place for the community and for our sponsors.
“I think the change is good for the cowboys. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
More than 300 contestants have signed up to be part of the festivities, so the signs are pointing as though the move was in the right direction.
“We’re very pleased with the numbers, especially this being the first rodeo since the date change,” Decker said.
DUNCAN, Okla. – Call it a happy coincidence or a great opportunity, but winning the Prairie Circuit wasn’t exactly in the plans written by Corey Navarre and Caine Riddle.
Still, that’s the case for the brothers-in-law. Navarre, of Weatherford, Okla., has earned $10,455 this season and leads the bull riding standings as the top 12 contestants in each event make their plans to compete at the 2012 Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for set for Oct. 18-20 at the Stephens County Expo Center.
“It was never a priority for me to lead the standings, but it worked out that way,” said Navarre, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who, in 1998 became the first cowboy in the history of the game to qualify for the NFR, the College National Finals Rodeo and the PBR World Finals in the same season, a feat he also accomplished in 1999. “I just happened to do good at Pretty Prairie (Kan.), Burwell (Neb.) and some other circuit rodeos.
“I didn’t have that great of the year, but it seems like the ones I did good at were in the circuit.”
Riddle, a second-generation bareback rider from Vernon, Texas, has had a solid season. In fact, he’s firmly in the top 20 in the world standings and is battling over the next 11 days to earn a spot in the top 15 in order to qualify for his first NFR.
“I’ve got my mind on other things right now, but it’s pretty neat that I’m in that position to win the circuit again,” said Riddle, who won circuit titles in 2006 and 2009. “It’ll be interesting to see the new place we’re having our circuit finals.”
The Chisholm Trail committee is bringing the circuit finals to Duncan for the first time in the event’s history. The Stephens County Expo Center has been host to some great events over the season, and now it will be home to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s regional championship.
An indication of just how prestigious the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals is can be seen in the list of world champions who have also won in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region: bareback riders Eric Mouton and Mark Gomes; steer wrestlers Roy Duvall, Ote Berry and Dean Gorsuch; team roper Nick Sartain; saddle bronc riders John McBeth, Robert Etbauer and Billy Etbauer; tie-down ropers Tom Ferguson and Roy Cooper; barrel racer Mary Burger; and bull riders Lane Frost, Terry Don West and Dustin Elliott.
There are a lot of contestants in the game who would love to add their names to that list. Riddle and Navarre are just two of the regular-season leaders; they’re joined by barrel racer Tana Renick of Kingston, Okla.; steer roper Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan.; tie-down roper Hunter Herrin of Apache, Okla.; saddle bronc rider Jesse James Kirby of Dodge City, Kan.; team ropers Hunter Munsell of Arnett, Okla., and Braden Harmon of Mustang, Okla; and steer wrestler Chancey Larson of Manhattan, Kan.
“I’ve never won the circuit finals,” Navarre said. “Actually, I’ve only been to the circuit finals a handful of times. It seems like I was always rodeoing so hard outside the circuit that I didn’t have enough circuit rodeos to qualify. There were a lot of years that the circuit finals was at the same time as the PBR finals the years I did qualify for it, so I couldn’t go.”
In addition to winning the regional championship, there’s another level of incentive: The year-end and finals average winners qualify for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will take place next spring in Oklahoma City. That’s the championship for the circuit system, and it allows even part-time cowboys and cowgirls the opportunity to win a national title.
“It’s exciting to have a chance to win the circuit, especially when you have a chance to go to Oklahoma City,” Navarre said. “That’s one of the events I haven’t qualified for yet, so it’d be nice to make it there.”
Riddle has been to there, but that was before it moved from Pocatello, Idaho, to Oklahoma’s capital city.
“My last goal this year was coming out and winning the circuit, but I’ll take it,” said Riddle, whose sister, Melissa, is a Prairie Circuit board member married to Navarre. “A lot of my wins were in the circuit, so it just added up.
“It’ll be nice to have the circuit finals an hour from my house.”
It doesn’t matter if the goal was to make the NFR, make a living on the rodeo trail or squeak into the circuit finals field, the top cowboys in the region are making their plans for Duncan, and that’s a good thing for everyone involved.
“I think it’s great that we have the finals in Duncan,” Navarre said. “I think that board in Duncan has been working hard to put on a good rodeo. I think it’ll be a good event.”
STEPHENVILLE, Texas – Folks around Erath County know rodeo. They live it.
But for rodeo’s greatest players, this year’s Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo is an even bigger deal. With the change in dates to the final weekend of the 2012 regular season, Stephenville will be a hot spot for those cowboys and cowgirls hoping to clinch a spot in ProRodeo’s championship events.
The rodeo is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Lone Star Arena, and each performance will feature many of the big names in the sport fighting for a shot at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, held in December in Las Vegas.
But there’s just as important of a competition scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28, when the top 51 steer ropers in the country battle for a top 15 spot in the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, set for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2-3 at the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie, Okla.
“We’ve added $5,000 in steer roping,” said Chad Decker, chairman of the volunteer rodeo committee that produces the annual event, indicating the amount of money the rodeo adds to entry fees to make up the total purse. “It’s a pretty tight race to get into the top 15 in steer roping. I’m a PRCA steer roper. I know what the guys like, and I tried to pattern it after that. I also wanted it to be a difference-maker.”
Marty Jones is a 14-time steer roping finals qualifier from Hobbs, N.M. He’s 17th in the world standings, so he needs to make a move in the final three events of his 2012 season in Amarillo, Texas, this week and in Anadarko, Okla., and Stephenville next week.
“It really depends on where you are sitting in the standings,” Jones said regarding the big-money roping on the final weekend of the season. “If you’re in (the top 15) at that time, there’s a disadvantage to it, because somebody can come from way back and win lots of money.
“If you’re out (of the top 15), one run makes all the difference. It could be the last steer, and it could be a difference-turner for you.”
That’s a big reason so many great ropers will be at Lone Star Arena.
“I think the committee has really stepped up and done an outstanding job of making the steer roping so important and valuable to the contestants,” said Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer in Stephenville. “I think the fans especially like to come out and see all the top cowboys and legends in the sport during The Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo. To be a game-changing event that determines who moves on and who goes home in the final weekend of the rodeo season makes it that much more exciting.”
Decker said this is just the first step in what he hopes is a win-win for the rodeo, its fans and the contestants.
“I wanted it to be a big deal,” he said.
The contestants have taken notice.
“It’s great to have a good rodeo, period,” Jones said. “When you add $5,000 in steer roping and make it a featured event, that’s a plus.
“A month ago, I wasn’t as close as I am now. I’ve gained some ground, and I’ve got a chance.”
I got to interview Jim Zinser today, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I’m working on a piece about the incredible bloodlines he developed over the course of owning J-Bar-J Rodeo. It’s quite amazing what Zinser has brought to the world of ProRodeo, and it’s hard to believe it’s been four years since he sold the rodeo company.
Still, the legacy continues. Zinser told me there were 29 horses at the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo that carried his classic J-J brand. Many of those were sired by the great Night Jacket.
This is going to be a fun piece to write, because Jim and Maggie Zinser have been around rodeo for so many years. Stock contractors who carry the legacies of the Zinser bloodlines once rode those Zinser horses, which is how they knew so much about the Michigan-based firm.
In my job, I oftentimes get to visit with some of the greatest athletes in ProRodeo history. Today I got to visit with one of the makers of great athletes.
That’s another awesome blessing.
Schoolchildren learn how food goes from farm to plate at the American Royal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Al Davis wasn’t sure what to think.
An elementary school teacher had just pointed to a farm animal and told her class it was a camel. The problem was, it was actually a Brahman bull.
Yes, Brahman bulls and camels have distinguishable humps in their backs that serve a similar purpose: To store food and water. But bulls and camels are not the same, and there are many characteristics of each that separates the two species. It was just further proof for Davis that the American Royal’s school tours were doing what was needed.
“When you stand in an exhibit and there’s a Brahman bull in the pen, and a teacher calls it a camel, then you know there’s a disconnect from what is being taught in school and what happens in the store,” said Davis, the American Royal’s manager of education. “That’s not a part of an elementary school teacher’s curriculum.
“That’s why it’s more and more important that people learn where the food comes from and what it takes to get it from the farm to the plate.”
The school tours are set for Sept. 25-28 during the American Royal’s Fall season. The program is built to educate students in the second to fourth grades. It consists of an educational tour and the Invitational Youth Rodeo; it will include the ADM World of Agriculture, the Mobile Dairy Classroom and other fun exhibits to help educate the youngsters. .
“Right now I’d argue that people are one generation or two generations removed from the farm, and somewhere we’ve lost the knowledge of where our food comes from,” Davis said. “That’s the goal with all of our education stuff. This is still the United States, and we still have the safest food products in the world.
“We have young kids that the only reference they have to the farm is the old See ’N Say toy, where they learn that cows moo and dogs bark. We want to educate them far beyond the propaganda they might see regarding the food industry.”
The 26-foot Mobile Dairy Classroom features milking parlors complete with a live cow. Children will learn about the importance of dairy products in a person’s diet as well as what it takes to get milk from the cow to their local store.
The Pizza Roundup connects the process and importance of production and agriculture to one of the world’s most popular foods. They will learn how pizza is made, what ingredients are used, where the ingredients came from, how the ingredients are made and how the ingredients are grown.
The petting zoo will allow youngsters a chance to interact with farm animals and see a wide range of exotic animals.
“It’s becoming more important to know where our food comes from, how it’s been processed and how it goes from farm to plate,” Davis said. “The kids will learn how the animals are cared for and how the environment is important. They are all issues everybody should care about.
“We just present the facts, and, of course, the kids are always excited about the petting zoo. For a lot of the kids, this is as close as they’re ever going to get to livestock.”
Volunteers come out to support the annual event, raise money for scholarships
HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The Waller County Fair and Rodeo is an exposition, an exhibition and a great place for affordable family entertainment.
It’s also an entity that gives back to the community primarily through scholarships.
“The scholarship program means more to the board of directors than anything we have going,” said Dustin Standley, second vice president and chairman of the fair board’s sponsorship committee. “We’re giving kids the opportunity to go to college, a trade school, a technical school or the military. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter to us. I think it’s important to grow this fair, because growing the fair potentially gives more money back to the scholarships.”
A few years ago, about $8,000 in scholarships was handed out to youth. Last year, that figure reached about $45,000.
That’s one of the greatest parts of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, which runs Sept. 28-Oct. 7 in Hempstead. Throw in the fact that day passes for adults are just $10 ($5 for children), and anyone can see what an entertainment value there is. Season passes for admission or the entire nine-day run of the fair are $25 in advance, $30 at the gate. What makes it such a great deal for the entertainment dollar?
The action-packed fair kicks off with Texas-based artist Kevin Fowler, who provides high energy performances with in-your-face music that has been a drawing card for a number of fans. That show begins Saturday, Sept. 29. In addition, fans will get to enjoy the great country stylings of Jake Hooker on Thursday, Oct. 4; Austin legend Corey Morrow and Texas music’s Cody Johnson on Friday, Oct. 5; and Nashville artist Jerrod Niemann – whose popular song “Lover Lover” raced up the country charts – closes the fair on Saturday, Oct. 6.
“We have a lot of great things going on,” said Clint Sciba, vice president of the fair. “Over the last three or four years, we’ve grown our overall sales and attendance. We have grown our programs inside the fair. With that, we’ve been able to grow our rodeo side.”
The rodeo is in its second year as part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and will feature many of the top names of the game during its three-day run from Oct. 4-6. Three of those are from the area – bareback rider Clint Cannon from Waller and tie-down ropers Cory Solomon of Prairie View and Fred Whitfield of Hockley. All three have played on the grandest stage in the sport, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“We’re building something in Waller County,” said Cannon, a three-time NFR qualifier. “The crowd really got into it last year and loved it.
“I think the people there are treating everybody right. We’ve got good people promoting it, and we’re going to see that in the contestants who come to our rodeo.”
But the ProRodeo isn’t the only show in town.
“We’re having eight straight days of rodeo action at the fair,” said Paul Schroeder, co-chairman of the rodeo committee. “Every single night you can come to the arena and see something good. Even if it’s the county roping or an open tie-down roping, you’re going to get that type of participation.”
But there are so many other activities during the fair, the admission price is more than affordable.
“We’ve got all kinds of ag programs, and we’ve added an ag mechanics show, a videography contest and a Go Tejano Day to recognize the Hispanic culture of our county,” Sciba said. “This also is the first year that we’ve had a carnival on both weekends of the fair, so that’s a pretty big deal for us.”
Of course, no fair would be complete with the livestock shows and competition, a greased pig contest, a kids tractor pull and plenty of other exhibitions.
“The fair is set up to give back to the community as far as entertainment and the other things it brings, and it’s one of the top events in the county,” Sciba said. “It’s our job to continue to grow this. You have to have some hard-working people and some hard-working volunteers.”
In fact, an event of this magnitude can’t happen without a great combination.
“We’ve got 25 board members that volunteer year-round,” Sciba said. “We’ve got 625 volunteers. That’s incredible. It truly is a community coming together to put this thing on. What’s even better is we’ve got volunteers who want to be more involved in our fair.”
American Royal brings a fun atmosphere with an after-the-rodeo dance
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The American Royal understands tradition, from its decades of producing championship events to holding tight to its mission for youth, education and agriculture.
That’s why many associated with this year’s fall festival are excited about the overall celebration that will surround this year’s American Royal Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Hale Arena in the American Royal complex.
In addition to festivities and bands playing before the rodeo performances, there will be a rodeo dance following the Friday and Saturday shows in Grand Hall near Hale Arena. Nashville recording artist Bucky Covington will perform Friday, Sept. 28, and J.T. Hodges, a Texas-based country artist, will entertain Saturday, Sept. 29.
“That’s what we want the rodeo to be,” said Alex Lowe, the other co-chairman who works closely with Bryan Beaver on the overall aspects of the rodeo’s association with the American Royal’s Fall Festival. “We’re trying to bring some of the excitement back. We’re tying it in with all the other events. If we can pack it all together, then we can offer a better fan experience.
“When I go to a rodeo, that’s what I enjoy.”
The move to Hale Arena provides a great experience for the fans looking to get the most bang for their entertainment dollar. It will allow for an up-close-and-personal feel for those who enjoy music, entertainment and the very best professional rodeo has to offer.
“But what you get in Hale is the intimacy of the event,” Beaver said. “This is a great arena for the tried-and-true rodeo fans, and they’ll love the intimacy.”
The timing allows this year’s rodeo to coincide with the American Royal Parade, which takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, on Grand Boulevard; it’s also the weekend before the American Royal’s World Series of Barbecue®.
“Pairing it with our parade and the barbecue adds a lot of excitement to our fall festival,” Lowe said.
But the overall experience of the rodeo will allow fans looking for affordable family entertainment to enjoy their time in the West Bottoms.
“We want people to come down and make it a Royal experience,” Beaver said. “I think having it right there keeps our rodeo at home. A lot of the feedback we got from fans last year was that it was fun having it at the Sprint Center, but that it’s not where it belongs.
“It was fun to try, but certainly it’s going to be good to have our heritage events at our heritage location.”
ALVA, Okla. – The Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo teams have high expectations.
To meet them, they must handle the rigors of the 10-event National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Central Plains Region. It all starts Friday, Sept. 21-Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Colby (Kan.) Community College Rodeo.
“Between the kids returning and the ones who are new, I think we’ve got a lot of talent,” said Stockton Graves, the Northwestern rodeo coach who took over the program last November. “I think everybody’s excited to see what we can do and what we need to work on after Colby.”
They are. Senior Collin Domer of Topeka, Kan., is the lone returner who qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo last season. He knows the talent level on the Rangers team but also realizes just how tough competition is in the region, which is made up of teams primarily from Kansas and Oklahoma.
“Stockton brought in a bunch of new recruits that are really talented, and there are a bunch of freshman that are already a step ahead of the game,” said Domer, a team roper who again will pair with his brother, Ryan, a fall transfer to Northwestern from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. “We have all but one girl that was part of last year’s team.”
The women’s team showed promise a season ago, winning three event titles. Even though the ladies failed to qualify one member to the college finale last June in Casper, Wyo., there was tremendous growth in a group that featured a number of young cowgirls.
“We had a young girls team last year, and they’re going to know a little more,” Collin Domer said. “I think we have a lot of talent on both teams. These transfers and freshmen are new to the region, and they’re going to be a little gun-shy at the first one.
“The ones that have been here are the seasoned veterans now. That is going to help us out much more than it did last year.”
What advantage do the Northwestern contestants have over the field?
“I think one of the really big things that’s helped is that even before he was the coach, Stockton has been here and has been involved in practice,” Domer said, noting that Graves is a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in steer wrestling. “Shannon Frascht still lives here, so he comes to practice with us.”
Frascht is a team roper who qualified for the NFR in 2006 and is a four-time year-end champion in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Prairie Circuit.
“A lot of those guys want to come back and help, and we get to have the benefit of that,” Domer said.
There were numerous great storylines coming out of this season’s Pendleton (Ore.) Roundup, which wrapped yesterday with the short go-round and crowning of champions.
The PRCA focused its piece on Bobby Mote, and rightfully so. He’s a four-time world champion bareback rider who is in the top five of the world standings. He won the first round and finished in a tie for second in the short round to win the average title. Mote’s run in Pendleton was worth $11,261
It’s a big win this late in the year with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. But there were some significant moves for those contestants on the bubble.
Take fellow bareback rider Justin McDaniel, a world champion and two-time NFR average champ. At three rodeos last weekend, McDaniel won nearly $7,500, $4,464 of which was won in Pendleton. He placed in both rounds and finished in a tie for fourth in the average.
He also won the bareback riding title in Abilene, Texas. He is a four-time NFR qualifier who missed last season and a good portion of this season because of injury.
He looks to be healthy now, and he’s making a run at Vegas. He’ll surely move up from 16th when the world standings are released Monday.
Bradley Harter won $3,818 in Pendleton, placing in the long round and the average. He also added $428 in Abilene, so that $4,246 comes in handy. That should move Harter up one spot to 12th in the saddle bronc riding standings.
Every dollar is key this time of year. Only the top 12 cowboys and cowgirls in the world standings as of Sunday, Oct. 23, qualify for the Justin Boots Championships, which will offer a purse of more than $635,000 on the final weekend of the season.
The rest of those on the bubble will chase every dollar they can that weekend, from Stephenville, Texas, to Anadarko, Okla., to the prestigious American Royal Rodeo in Kansas City, Mo. It’s a little nerve racking and very tiring.
It’s also a lot exciting.
Reigning champs have a chance to win American Royal twice in same season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Eight contestants have an opportunity to accomplish something that’s never been done in the history of the American Royal Rodeo – they can win two titles in the same season.
It’s possible because one month makes a big difference. This year’s rodeo – set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Hale Arena in the American Royal complex – will be one of the last events of the 2012 regular season. The top contestants in the sport will make sure Kansas City is on their schedules.
“I know it’s extremely exciting for them and for us,” said Bryan Beaver, who, with Alex Lowe, is co-chairman of the American Royal Rodeo committee. “It’s a unique situation where last year’s event was a first-of-the-season rodeo, and now our upcoming rodeo is the end of the season.”
That’s why all but one of the reigning champions have a shot at competing for a second crown this season, which began Oct. 1, 2011, and ends Sept. 30, 2012. The 2011 American Royal Rodeo took place last October, making it one of the largest events early in the season. With this year’s championship event taking place the final weekend of the month, the points will count for the final world standings.
And that has everybody in ProRodeo talking about Kansas City.
“That would be a neat rodeo to win twice in the same year,” said Wes Stevenson, the reigning bareback riding champion who has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo eight times in his career. “It’s considered a tough rodeo to win, but I think it’d be fun to win it twice in the same season. How many rodeos do you get a chance to do that?”
Stevenson will be joined by steer wrestler Les Shepperson, team ropers Colby Lovell and Ryan Motes, saddle bronc riders Cole Elshere and Tyrel Larsen, tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger and barrel racer Benette Barrington; bull rider Jacob O’Mara will miss this year’s American Royal because of an injury.
Of the 2011 winners, Stevenson, Shepperson, Lovell and Motes are almost assured spots at the NFR, which takes place Dec. 6-15 in Las Vegas. Elshere (12th) and Barrington (10th) are in the mix right now – only the top 15 contestants in each event at the conclusion of the regular season qualify for ProRodeo’s finale – but they are listed on the bubble because of the precarious nature of the sport.
“That would be awesome, and it’s something I’ve really thought about,” Barrington said. “I’m excited to go.”
Being 10th is a little more comfortable for Barrington than it is for Elshere, so that’s why Kansas City is so important for them and others who are hoping to make their way to the Nevada desert.
“We’ve tried to make it a competitive rodeo, and we add a lot of money for them to try to win,” said Lowe, whose brother, Will, is a three-time world champion bareback rider. “We put those winners from last year in a unique position to where they have a chance to win a rodeo twice in the same season. I think it’s something they can really be proud of if it happens.”
For Lowe, it’s nice to have one of his friends in the mix. Stevenson and Will Lowe are traveling partners and good friends, so Alex Lowe has strong ties to the reigning bareback champion.
“Wes is a great guy, and for him to win a rodeo is special, but for him to have a chance to win the American Royal twice in one year is even better,” Alex Lowe said. “But there are a lot of guys that really want to do something here. I think you’ve got some guys who will be right there in the standings where they have a shot, so they’re going to sneak up here and compete to stay in that spot for the National Finals.”
While rodeos like the American Royal offer large purses, none is bigger than the NFR. That’s why contestants battle so hard to earn the money it takes to play in Las Vegas. That’s why Kansas City is a place they must be the last weekend of September.