By Kevin Wilson
Three decades of the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association comes full circle this week, as the HPJRA Finals will fill a week’s worth of activities.
The rodeo, scheduled for Tuesday through Saturday at Clovis’ Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena, has been a part of New Mexico and Texas rodeo since the association was created in 1974.
More than 400 members now belong to the association, and approximately 350 contestants are set to compete in its rodeo throughout the week. Contestants ages 19 and under are separated into seven age groups and will compete in 36 events.
Wilma Fulgham, the chairman of registration for the rodeo, said the rodeo feels more like a gathering between hundreds of friends than a competition.
“I look forward to the young people competing and the companionship and comraderie,” Fulgham said. “Even though they compete against each other, they are friends and they help each other. It’s a family sport and it’s like a family reunion.”
Most family reunions don’t take this much planning, though. Ronnie Brooks, one of about 25 volunteers, said it takes a year’s worth of planning and $20-22,000 in donations to make an event like this work.
But the work isn’t done just yet, either. The next few days will be the longest for the volunteers, as there will be a full rodeo on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in addition to events starting at 8 a.m. each day.
“It’s time-consuming because we have different age groups,” Brooks said. “It does get long during the day, but it’s worth it.”
Brooks said he gets his satisfaction from, “working with the kids and providing a finals they can be proud of.” To earn a spot in the finals, competitors must earn at least one point in a respective event at seven of the 12 qualifying HPJRA events.
“They’re little professionals and they work hard at it.,” Brooks said. “They have to practice every day, just like a football player practices.”
The rodeo finishes the 12-event season that starts in mid-April and features rodeos in cities that include Portales, Lovington and Muleshoe.
Saturday evening’s rodeo will feature a short-go round, which includes the top five contenders in each event.
Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for students. For information, contact the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce at 763-3435.