From bull riding to community building
Rotary Rodeo back in Cassville this weekend
For the past 80 years, the people of Cassville and Barry County have looked forward to the annual Cassville Rodeo, hosted by the Cassville Rotary Club.
This weekend spectators can join the fun Friday and Saturday night from 8-11 p.m. at the Bill Hailey Arena.
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12 years old. Tickets can be purchased in advance by contacting the Cassville Rotary Club, which will save buyers $2 on adult tickets.
The event that started in the early 1940s has brought the community together in more ways than one.
The annual Rodeo is used as a fundraiser for the Rotarians for community service projects, but the Rotary has partnered with other organizations over the years to help extend that fundraising opportunity. From the Boy Scouts to the FFA Booster Club and many in between, the partnerships build character, as well as opportunity.
Stan Kelley, president of Freedom Bank of Southwest Missouri and Rodeo committee member, said the Cassville FFA actually hosted the event alone last year, and was quite successful.
“But, since the Rotary was not involved last year, this is the 79th annual Rodeo hosted by the Rotary,” he said. “I have been involved for 30 years on the Rodeo committee and for even more with the Rotary.”
Some of the biggest changes Kelley has seen over the years include the quality of the rodeo and its participants.
“The cowboys continue to be great,” he said. “Cassville is one of the popular small-town rodeos in the four-state area.”
Over 30 years, Kelley has seen the fans change as well.
“More and more are coming and getting involved that aren’t necessarily farming-oriented,” he said. “We are seeing this turning into a real event that encompasses the whole community.
“Younger people are coming and bringing their children for a place to go and an event to see.”
In addition, the actual arena has seen a number of changes through the years too.
“There have been small changes,” Kelley said. “The new and improved concession stand was a great hit.”
A lot of the crowd favorite events do continue to come back every year.
“Bareback saddle bronc and calf roping are always popular,” Kelley said. “The cowgirl breakaway roping was new in recent years, and it was popular too. Mutton busting is not always an event, but it is fun and popular when we have it for both the parents and the children.”
One big change that has happened since 2015 is a change in Rodeo producers.
“Now, we use C.R. McKellips Rodeo Co., Inc.,” Kelley said. “They do a good job of producing and bring a good following of cowboys and good stock.”
Better advertising over the years has helped in community involvement as well.
“Last year, the FFA conducted the event alone, and they did a great job of promoting and encouraging the public to come out,” he said. “The partnership with the Rotary to make a joint event is exciting. The profits are split and are used to benefit the community from two organizations in Cassville and Barry County.
“The Rotary uses the profits for various projects in the community,” Kelley said. “A big one is the scholarships. This year, we gave out seven.”
Over the two-night event, the Rotary would love to see 1,500-2,000 people.
“Things seem to be going smoothly this year,” he said. “There have been good reports from other rodeos in 2021. We are excited for 2021 and hope to have a great crowd.”