Making a debut First Women’s Ranch Rodeo scheduled in Gillette
Gillette – The first professionally sanctioned Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association (WRRA) rodeo in the state of Wyoming will be held on May 31 and June 1 at the Camplex’s Morningside Park Arena in Gillette.
Heidi Huggins, owner of Bucking H Designs, and Tiffany Schwenke, owner of North Four Mile Creek Horse Ranch, are co-producing the WRRA event, the Bucking H Bash Rodeo.
Teams of the rodeo will consist of four members, with a maximum of 16 teams being able to participate at the rodeo.
“We have people coming from Canada to Texas and everywhere in between,” says Schwenke. “We are also going to have all the Campbell County Commissioners and some local rodeo royalty at the WRRA, as well.”
The WRRA started 18 years ago in Kansas and has held rodeos in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and now Wyoming.
The events that will be held at the Bucking H Bash are the traditional ranch rodeo events of calf branding, tie down, sorting, doctoring and trailer loading.
“People can come watch and see what life is like on a ranch with the very authentic events that could happen any day,” says Higgins. “We can seat 3,000 people, which is great, and I sure hope that we can get about 1,000 people to attend.”
Huggins started planning the Bucking H Bash last fall and recruited Schwenke early this year to help bring the idea of the WRRA rodeo to life.
“Heidi and I just feed off of each other, and we work very well together,” states Schwenke. “We hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that we are able to have this rodeo in Gillette every year.”
“The biggest thing I really thought was great about the WRRA, especially for Wyoming, is that we are the equality state and were the first state to give women a strong-hold in the public eye and in life itself,” comments Huggins.
She continues, “This whole association is dedicated to showing women can do anything and everything on a ranch that their husbands can do.”
The rodeo’s festivities will begin at 6 p.m. May 30 with a calcutta of the teams at Jake’s Tavern. Following the calcutta will be the musical performance of Western Underground, Chris LeDoux’s band.
Before the June 1 rodeo performance, Huggins and Schwenke are hosting an Open Stray Gather competition open to men and women, locals and non-locals, including those who are not members of the WRRA.
“We are hoping to attract a bunch of locals to compete in the stray gather,” encourages Schwenke. “We have buckles for the contestants and a cash payout for the winners.”
Schwenke notes that everyone who brings horse to the complex, regardless if they are a local or from out-of -state, must have a current health inspection and Coggins test for their horses.
“We want to make sure everybody’s horses are healthy, and all horses will be checked,” states Schwenke. “We don’t want anybody to go home with a sick horse when they are coming to have fun at our rodeo.”
“We have over 100 awards to give away, which include three trophy saddles, 12 trophy buckles and tons of other awesome awards, such as bronc style leather tooled halters, saddle pads, sport medicine boots and spur straps,” explains Schwenke.
“We’ll have a top hand saddle to give away each day, and then our third saddle will be given away as our ‘Buck Up’ award,” comments Schwenke. “We will have contestants vote and give the saddle away to somebody who is a good sportsman.”
“We have over 60 sponsors and have awards from 12 states and two countries,” exclaims Huggins. “Literally every woman in the rodeo will receive something, even if they get dead last.”
While some of the awards came from locals, Huggins says that awards and merchandise were received from across the country.
“We have just had a phenomenal response to what we are doing and everybody seems to be excited about it and want to be a part of it – we are very thrilled about that,” says Schwenke.
“Kate Martin, owner of Lazy KT Designs, has been a tremendous asset to Heidi and me, and she is our director for marketing and advertising,” says Schwenke. “We hired her specifically to write our Facebook page posts and to promote our sponsors through social media on Instagram and Twitter.”
“We want our sponsors to get their money’s worth and feel appreciated for sponsoring our rodeo, not just be mentioned on the day of the rodeo,” she adds.
“We want to promote them during the months leading up to the rodeo, and if they have a sale or promotion, she’ll post it on Facebook and puts links to their pages and websites,” comments Huggins.
Tickets for the rodeo can be purchased at Longhorn Saddlery and Jordan’s Western Dining for $8 each or at the gate for $10.
Next year's event
“We are going to double sanction this rodeo next year with the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association (WSRRA),” explains Bucking H Bash co-producer Tiffany Schwenke. “We’ll have two arenas set-up. In one arena, we’ll have the Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association (WRRA) rodeo, and in the other arena, we’ll have the Men’s Ranch Rodeo.”
She continues, “We’ll also have a match bronc riding next year at the rodeo, so we are doubling it in size next year.”
Heidi Huggins, co-producer of the event, also notes that it is her goal to also include a western art show in conjunction with the event. She says they plan to continue to grow and improve each year.
“We want this rodeo to eventually be known as the kickoff to the summer events,” says Schwenke. “We want everybody from the state to want to come to our rodeo.”
She adds, “It’s going to be a big family fun event. We don’t want people to think it’s just for women because it’s a women’s ranch rodeo. There are activities and events for everyone.”
In between the events at the Bucking H Bash, activities for the kids of the crowd are planned, including a stick horse race and dummy roping.
“We have over 60 buckles to give away to the kids,” comments Tiffany Schwenke, co-producer of the Bucking H Bash. “Basically, all the kids are going to get a buckle for being in the events. They just have to be present to enter, and their entry fee for the events is the cost of their ticket to get into the rodeo.”
For musical entertainment, Schwenke and fellow co-producer Heidi Huggins have cowgirl poet and singer Trinity Seeley performing live at the rodeo on both Saturday and Sunday.
“After the rodeo on Saturday, there will be an after party at Boot Hill, which is a legendary steak house and nightclub,” says Schwenke. “Then after the rodeo on Sunday, there will be an awards ceremony.”
The rodeo will be catered with food from Jordan’s Western Dining located in Gillette, which was recently rated the number one steakhouse in Wyoming, notes Huggins.
Vendors and local artists will also be present at the rodeo.