Whenever I envision something quintessentially Texas, the image that comes to mind is that of the Kueckelhan Ranch Rodeo.
On Friday night I had the privilege to attend and write about the three-night event that celebrated its 62nd year. Though I’ve only attended a few rodeos in my life, this event is unlike any other. While it has all the rodeo standards like steer wrestling, barrel racing and bull riding, this event possesses something more.
This rodeo, possibly the largest event in Fannin County, maintains that small-town, rural atmosphere, but it feels like a major league sporting event, comparable to the atmosphere found at a Texas Rangers game or something similar.
This rodeo produces a particular atmosphere that visitors encounter before they even park their cars. Men and women on horseback help direct traffic to parking spots, a mechanical bull and pony rides are offered outside the rodeo ring, and most people seem to know each other. Despite thousands in attendance and hundreds of participants — the majority of which are clad in pearl snap shirts and western boots and hats — this event doesn’t feel as big as it is. It feels like a community event with professional production.
I think a big part of the environment that’s seemingly unique to this event is because it’s family operated. The Kueckelhan family puts this rodeo together and they are involved in nearly every aspect of it. They know how to operate a rodeo and how to make it a spectacle.
Last year I actually attended this rodeo twice: Once for work, and the second for fun. From the times I’ve written about this event, I’ve interviewed members of the Kueckelhan family. It’s clear from those interviews that the family possesses a real passion for preserving this piece of American culture and a desire to share that culture with as many people as possible.
This rodeo seems to be about something more than just entertainment. It’s about the community, it’s about the residents of Fannin County, and it’s about the rodeo lifestyle.
Happy birthday Tuesday to Misty Nordhoss of Whitesboro.