By Kelli Jackson - Miss Rodeo America 2010
When I am asked how I began competing in rodeos, I enjoy answering that I am a first generation cowgirl. I have had a horse since I was born, but I didn’t competitively ride. That all changed with an invitation from family friends to attend a local rodeo. As the old cliché goes, “the rest was history.”
Without that invitation, I believe that my life would be drastically different than it is now. I would not have had the great memories, friendships, and life-lesson benefits of being a competitor in the National High School Rodeo and National Little Britches Rodeo Associations; I also probably wouldn’t have become Miss Rodeo America. That stark realization—that one little invitation changed the course of my youth and young adulthood—inspired me years ago and still inspires me today to be a spokesperson for the sport of rodeo.
As we seek to market our local rodeo associations to new competitors, the media, and the spectator masses, the task can seem a bit daunting. I encourage you to think about the “basics.” Below are a few practical tips of how to promote your local rodeos and encourage youth growth that I employ as I travel as Miss Rodeo America.
To grow your association, invite local families to join your organization. Discuss the benefits of membership—whether it is fellowship, good competition, or whatnot—with other parents and encourage them to join. When the new families attend the rodeo, send your children over to greet the newcomers. A hello from your son or daughter will go a long way with the “new kids.”
To further your spectator base, ask local radio stations and television stations to air news coverage or free advertising about your rodeo. Call their business office and explain that you’re a family-oriented non-profit and would like to see if they could advertise for your rodeo in their upcoming community events section. Better yet, ask if they’d like to attend the rodeo and provide coverage and interview local contestants.
Lastly, take a second to stop and remember the benefits that your children are receiving as part of your local rodeo organization. Rodeo is like any other sport in the aspect that it can instill confidence and responsibility in your children; however, it is also one that promotes family togetherness and what I like to call “All-American Values.” I know the tips to “call the radio station” and “invite a friend’ sound a bit basic, but the basics build a strong rodeo association.
As you begin the spring rodeo season, and I encourage you to ask the other parents, “How did your kids begin competing in rodeos….?” Enjoy hearing each others’ unique first, second, third, and so on generation rodeo stories and use them as your promote your rodeo association in the future.