We are Bringing our Family, Please Bring Yours!

Traveling like a band of gypsies during the rodeo season, bull riders, stock contractors, and the CBR staff know there’s always a feeling of home when arriving at a CBR. Whether it’s in Del Rio, Texas or next month’s World Finals in Cheyenne, when the cowboys and the crews arrive it is always like a family reunion.

“We work hard to promote a family atmosphere and we produce a family-friendly entertaining event during our entire twelve month tour season,” said Benny Cude, CEO and Chairman of Championship Bull Riding.

CBR production crews eat sleep and breathe bull riding while on the Road to Cheyenne and this year CBR has proof.

“I met my wife at the CBR and we had our first date in Bossier City, we are now married and our baby will be at Cheyenne with Jill’s parents, owners of Powder River Rodeo Company, who will be on the grounds babysitting during the performance while we work,” said three-time CBR Bullfighter of the Year, Brandon Loden.

The Loden's (Brandon, Jill and Holden) met while working for CBR and married shortly after.

The sixth edition of the CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days is significant mostly because it will feature 14 riders with rodeo (bull riding) pedigrees and 12 rookies about to get one. Look beyond the names of each qualifier and you will find rodeo filled athletic pedigrees that read like the bred to buck bucking stock that they will mount at Frontier Park in July.


Who’s Your Daddy?

World Champion Bull Riders returning to Cheyenne to compete include Cody Teel and Sage Kimzey. Both of the celebrated champions come from two very different yet familiar backgrounds. To say rodeo is in their family’s blood would be somewhat of an understatement…

Each of them hail from rodeo stock royalty and you can bet that $100,000 prize purse that both of their fathers and mothers will both be in the stands and on the chutes with their sons when the competition begins.

Although Kimzey’s father did not ride bulls, Ted Kimzey was a ProRodeo clown and entertainer who has served as the barrelman at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Rodeo is a way of life for Sage, now a three-time World Champion, and has been since the day he was born.

“My family has rodeoed forever, and I was just brought up in it,” Sage Kimzey said. “Bull riding was always my favorite event, so that’s kind of how I got into it.”

Kimzey’s siblings, older sister Dusta and younger bull riding brother Trey, are part of Tricked Out, a trick-riding group that performs at rodeos and other western related shows throughout the country. Dusta also competes in rodeo events and recently graduated from Pharmacy School and in her spare time can be found giving inspirational speeches to aspiring rodeo champions.

Teel, whose father Robbie rode bulls for several decades, reviews videos and talks strategy with his father who is currently a well-respected bull riding and rodeo judge in multiple rodeo associations.

Rodeo competitors, usually sport a low-profile spirit and the fans in the stands rarely get a glimpse of their personal lives and how they reached the lofty status of a professional, or who pushed them hard to get here.

Cody Teel once told a reporter that if they would let her behind the chutes, his mom could pull his rope at the NFR. He wasn’t kidding, for years when practicing Kami Teel would pull his rope because she wasn’t strong enough to handle the chute gates that released the bulls. You think Little League is full of tough moms, try the stands of the Texas Junior Bull Riding associations! Whether Dad was home or not, Mrs. Teel was going to make sure Cody got to practice his chosen sport.

Who drove Sage, Cody, Chandler, Trey, Wyatt, and Tim (and most of the 26-man roster) around before they were rock stars of the rodeo, you guessed it, their moms and dads and brothers and sisters.  


Brother Where Art Thou?

Cowboys have a reputation of hard living tough guys, men who have sacrificed wives and children for a life of riding bulls and rough stock. Although those competitors still exist, many of the riders and staff of today’s western lifestyle entertainment spend their time competing with their families... as do CBR World qualifiers, bull riding brothers (in-law) Koby Radley and Jacob O’Mara. Some bull riders’ travel with children only in the summer when school is out and rodeo season is at its peak, but some travel year round with their wives, sisters and families.

Currently O’Mara is ranked No. 2 and poses the biggest threat to Sage Kimzey in Cheyenne, but every other weekend he is competing against his brother in law Radley. They are ranked No. 1 and 2 in the CBR Horizon Series standings and one will receive the $20,000 Horizon Series Champion check at the CBR Gala in Cheyenne. Here is what they had to say about making the trip to Cheyenne.

“We coming up as a family and we bringing ours and hope you bring yours,” said O’Mara. “We have had an awesome year, we have pressed each other up and keep our fire’s burning, and it’s been an awesome year for both of us.”

“It’s great going to get to ride against my brother in law and it’s going to be fun,” chimed Radley.


Home Fires Burning

The rodeo lifestyle is hard work and is thought to be a young man's game. Family rodeoing and ranching may be remnants of the old west, but the combination is still seen in the competitors and livestock contractors of today. Many of these men see their family's hope for future generations to come in the combination of competitions and in working cattle like the family before them.  

As the cowboys circle the country in search of eight-second rides and rich-dollar payouts, their families sometimes work alone at home, overseeing cattle, children, businesses and growing herds back home.

Tim Bingham, CBR qualifier who got his start competing by riding bucking bareback ponies at age 8, rodeos mostly with his younger brother Tyler, and is a favorite among bull riders on the rodeo trail with his positive attitude and friendly demeanor.

In addition to the contestants, CBR is a family friendly workplace. CBR Event Coordinator, Kay-Lee Pearson and Director of Rider Administration, Cicily Cross both have young children that sometimes travel with them and are welcome at the venues and in the production meetings.

When production manager, Chris Rankin, puts on his annual Baytown Horizon Series, which benefits the FFA and 4-H Youth in his hometown area, he produces the entire event with family members to create more money for the local youth.


Steak and Grilled Cheese Please

Although there are no statistics on rodeo children who travel with their parents, children are part of rodeo life. For many, rodeo and family go hand in hand. Many contestants were raised in the sport and hold tight to family values as they chase their rodeo dreams.

Rodeo committees are paying attention and making the events very family friendly for the staff and the competitors. Rodeo Houston has a competitor lounge where a short order chef will whip up a custom steak for a bull rider who just completed his days’ work, even if it was just an 8 second ride and a grilled cheese for his six year old daughter who found the ice cream cooler while waiting.

 “I think family is the best part of rodeo,” said Rogers whose father also competed in Cheyenne some twenty years before him. “It’s not only the immediate family, but it’s also the tradition of family.

At the CBR there is a long line of greatness throughout the generations, and on July 25 and 26, the legacies continue in Cheyenne.

You can see it in CBR rookie Joseph McConnel, whose brother Ryan has been a dominant pro bull rider for several years.

There are also the Rostockyj’s whose family rodeo antics entertain Facebook followers when Cody leaves for a bull riding with his wife’s keys to the horse trailer in his pocket.

Family closeness is the nature of the sport. Growing up rodeoing, most competitors feel like they are around the “right type of people” and the responsibilities learned are the foundation you need for all paths in life.

“It’s like one big family,” said Rostockyj.


Table for Ten

But probably the largest and most famous rodeo family group descending upon Cheyenne would be the Hedeman's. With the possibility of ten Hedemans checking into Frontier Park for a variety of duties during the CBR World Finals, the Hedeman's are one of rodeo’s highest profile family. While Tuff will alternate from Chute Boss to the media appointments, his sons, Lane and Trevor, will be the safety men roping bulls from the CBR arena.  

Gary, Tuff’s brother, will be judging the bull riding and Gary and his family will be with their pet bull, Bill, during the daytime entertaining the CFD crowds with his children’s anti-bullying story time message, “Bill is no Bully.”

Tuff’s two sisters will be in town coordinating details of the CBR’s Awards Gala and VIP services.

CBR and rodeo fans realize that bull riding and rodeo are chocked full of quality family entertainment which is the driving force behind their success. No rodeo venue compares to Cheyenne Frontier Days where there is something to do for every member of the family. From museums to midways, fried ice cream to calf fries, day rodeo performances to the night show club atmosphere, Cheyenne has it all. And that’s why events like the Cheyenne Frontier Days are legendary for not only rodeo history but quality family entertainment.  

From a distance, at a time of urbanization and high tech connectivity, rodeo and ranching may seem antiquated and a part of America that no longer exits, but to many it still represents the present and their future.

The hope is that the rodeo and ranching combination can sustain their families and their love of rodeo. And that one day they will be part of its Twitter and Facebook feeds that will run rich through the next edition of American history.