Vinton's Riley Istre competes in the tie down roping event at the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association Finals at Burton Coliseum on Saturday. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
South Beauregard's Jennifer Brown competes in barrel racing at the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association Finals at Burton Coliseum on Saturday. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, June 11, 2012 7:16 PM
Last week Lake Charles brought high school rodeo home for the first time since 2001, and the event, along with the junior high finals, are here to stay for at least one more year.
It’s just one more event that makes the area the “Youth Sports Capital of Louisiana,” said Kaylen Fletcher, Lake Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau public relations manager.
“The heart of rodeo is down here, and we knew we could put on a great show and bring in lots of people,” Fletcher said. “It brings in the whole state so it really truly is a community following of people who get excited about this every year. It was perfect timing.”
More than 300 rodeo competitors
traveled to the Lake Area to showcase their talents and vie for the top
four spots in their
events and a trip to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock
Springs, Wyo. Attendance for the high school finals from
June 5-9 totaled 3,748 while the junior high finals from June 1-3
drew 2,226 fans.
Louisiana High School Rodeo Association President John Denison, an Iowa native, said an upgraded facility and enthusiastic community helped sway the finals to Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles away from the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales and Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe, the two locations that hosted the event for the past 10 years.
“Other places charged more and didn’t provide any incentives to (go back),” said Denison, a former high school and McNeese State team roper who had his right leg amputated in a farming accident at age 2. “We’d been rodeoing for the past six years outside, so being able to compete in an air-conditioned facility was something we hadn’t had. It was a big project to convert Burton Coliseum into a rodeo, hauling all the dirt in and setting up all the pens and chutes, but we had a lot of volunteers.”
Denison said another benefit of Lake Charles hosting the rodeo is that a great number of LHSRA members hail from the Lake Area, opening the door for a wide array of sponsorships for the event.
Furthermore, he said Louisiana was the only state in the country to present winning saddles to junior high rodeo champions. Denison said the 13 saddles they awarded cost about $1,500 each.
“Over 50 percent of the contestants are in imperial Calcasieu and even more in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes,” Denison said. “The businesses have been really phenomenal; we over-doubled our sponsorship this year from what we were doing in Gonzales. Our goal is to keep it here for a long time.”
The LHSRA also raised $2,700 throughout the week to support rodeo contestants Katie and Kassie deVeer and their family, whose Geismar home burned down on May 29.
Posted By: Tracie On: 6/12/2012
What were the results????