BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Polk County Fair & Rodeo Association will host the first annual Polk County Junior Rodeo this Saturday, April 22nd, at 2 p.m. at the Andy Risenhoover Arena. The rodeo will serve as a fundraiser to make additional improvements to the facilities in an effort to restore it to its original glory.
Admission to the junior rodeo will be $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6-12, ages 5 & under are free. Events include Barrell Racing, Pole Bending, Breakaway, Goat Tying/Ribbon Pull, Chute Dogging, Team Roping, Mini Broncs, Mutton Bustin’, and will also include a calf scramble.
A Chili Cook-Off will be held as well, with judging at 1:30. Entry fee is $5. Chili will be sold afterword in bowls, frito chili pies, hot dogs, and more. There will also be a full concession available.
Polk County Fair & Rodeo Association Secretary/Arena Chairperson, Cheryl Edwards said that there are many improvements to be made at the arena and their hopes are that the junior rodeo will bring in enough funding to complete some of the projects that lie ahead.
Although the association was able to repair about half of the old buckled wooden bleachers, the other half still remains. They have also begun the long process of improving the floor of the arena. “We’ve worked very, very hard on the floor of the arena. It is actually barrel racer approved. The NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association) has scheduled a six-race series here this year. That would not have happened before the arena was improved,” said Edwards.
To improve the arena floor, new sand and base must be brought in and let ‘set’ for a while, getting a good rain and packed down, then more sand and base is laid, and the process is repeated until the floor is deemed complete. That project began in 2016 and still continues.
In addition to the bleachers and floor improvements, the holding pens beneath the announcer’s stand and behind the roping chutes need to be replaced, the old tin that surrounds the arena needs replacing, and the announcer’s stand needs several improvements. However, as Edwards explained, it takes funding to begin.
“It’s important to fix it for not only the safety of the public, but also for the safety of the cowboys and cowgirls,” Edwards said. “And bringing in the junior rodeo kids helps get them involved.” She went on to say that the kids are the future, and to help keep them busy and involved, the arena needs to be improved. “The kids need something to do,” she said. Her hopes, and the hopes of the Polk County Fair & Rodeo Board, are that Saturday’s rodeo will be a good start to see the fruition of their vision.