The Platte County Ag Park will play host to a Fire and Ice roping event this winter, with the first event of the season scheduled for Saturday.
Five ropings are scheduled from November to March, with competitors asked to attend three of the five in order to qualify for the finals on March 22. Roping will begin at noon and will consist of two events, a #10 Handicap and a #8 Pick/Draw.
Roping is a rodeo event where two people, a header and a heeler, make attempts to control a steer, with the header moving the steer over to where the heeler can rope him up. The event is timed and whoever goes the fastest is the winner.
LeAnn Buhman runs the competition and has done so for the past five years since it came to Columbus. She notes that the winter isn’t quite the best time for roping in Columbus, thanks to cold weather conditions and a lack of people willing to make the drive in said conditions, but she says that they manage quite nicely.
“Usually, we have around 75-100-125 teams,” Buhman said. “Last winter was so bad because it was so cold. There’s usually 40 cowboys in a #10 and a #8 sometimes is a little bigger, but most of them are right around 100 teams.”
Anyone can compete and anyone can watch the event. Cowboys can enter in both events if they so choose.
“They can enter with different partners,” Buhman said. “I suppose 50-shy of different cowboys will come there. You and I can enter and you can enter with somebody else and I can enter with somebody else. That makes up your 100 teams.”
Ag Park General Manager Brian Palmer said that Buhman has found a good strategy for finding a niche for those looking to participate.
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"There are so many different formats that you can use to promote participation," Palmer said. "Anybody that puts these on tries to find what works for their area and garner as much interest as possible."
They do get some guests, but thanks to the cold weather, attendance is usually low. On nicer days, however, a good crowd can show up.
“Once in a while, when it gets nice, we get quite a few family members, moms and dads and sometimes their kids will come out,” Buhman said. “Summertime, we get more people because it’s warmer.”
Buhman normally works as an announcer, but she will be heading on vacation for the winter months this year. Thus, she is putting control of the event in the hands of the Ag Park volunteers and is hopeful that weather will cooperate, even as she relaxes for a much-needed break.
“Hopefully, the weather will be better,” Buhman said. “Last year was just horrible. I hope we can keep having them.”
Palmer said he is also hoping that there will be fewer weekends without people roping up cattle at the Ag Park.
"We hope Mother Nature is a little more forgiving," Palmer said. "(We would like) to not have to cancel half of our days like last winter."
Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.