TORRINGTON – The ninth annual Torrington Elks Little Britches Rodeo is set to kick off April 7 and 8. The event will bring in between 100-200 young cowgirls and cowboys from 5 to 18 years of age to compete in 33 contests and five different age divisions.
In the past, the rodeo has drawn people in from eight different states, with youth coming to represent their home states of Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Texas, and New Mexico at the Pavilion on the Goshen County Fairgrounds in Torrington.
According to Rodeo Chairman Bob Schaefer, this trend of having a variety of states join Goshen County at the LBR the first weekend of April is expected to continue.
“The National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA) is a national organization, and so far, the Torrington Elks Little Britches Rodeo has hosted contestants from 15 states,” Schaefer said. “We do expect the state count to continue as the contestants compete for qualifications to participate in the National Little Britches Final Rodeo in Guthrie, Okla. the first week of July.”
With Goshen County hosting Wyoming's only Little Britches Rodeo contest, Schaefer explains what this will mean for Torrington and the rodeo youth of Goshen County: “As far as the benefits for hosting a rodeo of this magnitude in Goshen County, they are tremendous economically.
“Because we host the rodeo at this time of year, families will load up and travel knowing they will run on great ground in a warm, indoor facility with hotels, fueling, and dining located nearby,” he said. “The movie theatre is easy to get to as well, as is the Homesteader’s Museum and Fort Laramie Historical Site. Our families will start arriving Friday afternoon and be in attendance through Sunday.”
To be able to earn a spot at Nationals and win awards at the competition, Shaefer said “our local contestants have an opportunity to compete for qualifying points, if they are NLBRA members, against contestants from all around our region. They will compete for beautiful Monsoon Silver Buckles, several door prizes, and, most importantly for our seniors, an opportunity to win an Elks #1726 college scholarship.
“A daily point total determines our All-Around contestants and adds to the contestant’s total points accumulated throughout the season, which determines national champions,” he said. “A contestant can qualify for the finals by placing five times in the top seven at any of the franchise rodeos held throughout the season.”
The catch-phrase, Where Legends Begin, is derived from the NLBRA. It is one of the oldest, continuing junior rodeo associations in the nation, with members from Canada to Texas, and from the west coast to the east coast.
The aims and purposes for the organization are directed toward the interests of the western-minded youth of the nation that works to build sound, healthy minds and bodies, and to develop character, self-reliance, responsibility and great sportsmanship. A number of current professional rodeo competitors got their start with the Little Britches Rodeo circuit.
“Contestants like Josh Peek, Trevor Brazile, Tuff Cooper, Cody Demoss, Lisa Lockhart, and Charmayne James are Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) World Champions,” Schaefer said.
“Bob and I were just down at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo.,” Susie Schaefer says, adding to the discussion. “The walls were lined with NLBRA members that have gone on to have very lucrative careers in the professional ranks.”
“We currently have three NLBRA National Champions residing in Goshen County, Jacey, Haiden, and Hadley Thompson of Yoder,” Susie said. “Our daughter, Shai Schaefer, was the 2009 Jr. Girl World Champion Goat Tyer, and that’s how our rodeo franchise got started.”
“This is our ninth year,” Susie said. “We chose to continue the franchise even though Shai ‘aged out’ in 2013, as we love the sport, the kids, and what the rodeo does for our community economically. In 2017, we had over 150 sponsors from around the country contributing to the success of our rodeo, and, more importantly, the success of our young contestants. Our rodeo is definitely a family-friendly, fun event that promotes sportsmanship, responsibility, and the western heritage standing strong.”
Rodeo action begins at 8 a.m. both days, with Cowboy Church held at 7 a.m. Sunday morning. Admission is free.
The finals will be held at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla. on July 10-15. Last year, 1,167 contestants were converging at the Lazy E Arena, competing for over $380,000 in scholarships and awards.
More information on the Torrington Elks Little Britches Rodeo can be found on their website, www.torringtonlbr.com. National finals information can be found at the National Little Britches Rodeo Association website, www.nlbra.com.