Roundup leans on volunteers

2023 Dodge City Roundup Rodeo (Photos by Kylene Scott)

Organization continues to take strides forward with new officers

Since its inception nearly 50 years ago, Dodge City Roundup Rodeo has not only served the community, but it has done so with a solid base of volunteers.

Roundup’s members donate their time and talents to help produce one of the top events in the country, one that draws hundreds of cowboys, cowgirls and fans to Ford County every summer. It’s a dedicated group of individuals that bands together to make it all happen.

The group’s leadership has changed many times over the years, and the retirement of Dr. R.C. Trotter after 20 years as Roundup’s president means other changes to its team of officers beginning this fall. Steve Deges, who has spent more than 20 years as a volunteer and 18 years as a director for the largest rodeo in Kansas, has been elected as Roundup’s president.

“It is truly an honor to have been nominated by this organization, then to be voted as their president,” said Deges, who joins Roundup secretary Crysta Stella as the newest members of the organization’s board. “I only hope I can hold up to the legacy of those that have blazed the trail ahead of me.”

That’s no small task. Over the years, the marquee event of the Dodge City Days celebration has been named the PRCA Rodeo of the Year nine times. In 2012, Roundup was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and will forever be enshrined along hundreds of world champions and other rodeo dignitaries.

“Being an officer for Dodge City Roundup is such an honor to represent our organization,” Stella said. “I get to help promote our organization and continue to grow it and look forward to helping our recruitment of new members.

“I’m also in a position where I am getting to help with the visions of what we can continue to provide for entertainment for all ages in our community.”

Deges and Stella will join two other officers, treasurer Teresa Winger Martin, who has been involved for 10 years, and vice president Jerry Pegelow, a 26-year Roundup member who has been on the board for 24 years.

“It’s an honor to be a member of Dodge City Roundup,” Pegelow said. “We are the youngest rodeo inducted into the Hall of Fame, and we are always one of the top 25 rodeos in the country. It’s amazing what we can do out here in western Kansas. We have a good community, and we all work together.

“Roundup is conducting business 12 months out a year, looking at where we’ve been and where we want to go. We’re already planning for next year and beyond.”

That aspect is something all volunteers cherish. Most join to be part of something special, and the rodeo is that for the thousands of visitors who pack into Roundup Arena for six nights every year.

“Leadership carries the legacy that has been laid within my family to make my community better,” Martin said. “The first goal I have is for the community to be aware that a rodeo is a yearlong production; the event doesn’t just happen in one week a year.

“I would also like to see the grounds used for other events, and continued updates to the facility is important to both of these goals. With this comes more community involvement and, hopefully, more people interested in helping. Our organization should be a premier place to volunteer.”

It certainly has been over the years. Community leaders have stepped in, whether it’s helping with manual labor or obtaining sponsorships or promoting the rodeo across the state and the region. They attend training seminars and work with the livestock producer and other contractors who help make the rodeo run smoothly every year.

“My goals are to maintain the integrity of those who founded this organization 47 years ago,” Deges said. “This facility is 47 years old, and we have a lot of work to do to maintain and make improvements to it to make it a great experience for all that attend.”

Work has been ongoing for most of Roundup’s existence, and it will continue. In the last year, the volunteers got their hands dirty preparing an updated ticket booth for an eye-popping new entrance on the west side of the complex. They also worked closely with Victory Electric to enhance the electrical grid around the facility.

“I want to continue to make innovative improvements to our facility for our community to enjoy and be proud of,” Stella said. “I would love to see future generations become involved in the sport of rodeo and be part of the family at Dodge City Roundup.”

Growth and resurrection are important to any organization, but they are vital to a volunteer group.

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“I have long believed in the 4H motto: To Make the Best Better,” Martin said. “This is what I hope to accomplish as a Roundup officer.”

With the officers in place, the team is not only continuing to build on the foundation that was laid many years ago, it also is pushing toward the next phase of development for an event that not only serves western Kansas but also is celebrated by those that help make ProRodeo great.

“I would like to revitalize our membership with new, younger members so we can keep this organization vibrant and alive for another 47 years,” Deges said. “We have a great team of officers, an outstanding group of volunteers and a wonderful community. Together we can make great things happen.”