The Harrison Roundup Club Rodeo has been a staple in Boone County, Ark., for more than six decades
For more than 60 years, the Harrison (Ark.) Roundup Club Rodeo has been bringing some of the best cowboys and cowgirls in the nation to the HRC Arena for the organizations annual rodeo.
The three-night, high-adrenaline blowout continues to draw capacity crowds and record-breaking payouts for contestants.
The HRC Arena was constructed in the early 1950s and began hosting an annual Pro Rodeo Cowboy’s Association Rodeo in 1977. The arena hosted its first International Professional Rodeo Association/American Cowboys Rodeo Association co-sanctioned rodeo in 2018, and was named one of the top five outdoor rodeos of the year and was named the Best New IPRA Rodeo that same year. This year’s payout to participants is $22,000, the largest of any IPRA/ACRA event in the nation.
“We are truly blessed we’ve come this far,” Mark Hanshaw, Roundup Club member and rodeo chair, said. “It’s just been going on. When you look at some of the old pictures from when we were starting, we’ve come a long way. We have a huge amount of community support. We have more than 60 sponsors; this could not happen without the support of the community and sponsors. We’ve got sponsors who have been with us for more than 30 years. It’s a true group effort to pull this off. We have a lot of people who put in a lot of volunteers hours.”
Mark said the Harrison Roundup Club began “many, many” years ago when a few like-minded people got together. Over the years it has evolved to include more folks and more events.
“The rodeo is our premiere event of the year, but we do sponsor truck pulls, other equine events, and rodeos throughout the year,” he said.
Proceeds from the Harrison Roundup Club Rodeo go back into Harrison Roundup Club for upgrades and improvements to the arena.
The 2019 event is Sept. 12-14, with performances nightly, at the Harrison Roundup Club Arena, with more than 300 athletes expected to participate.
“We should have world champions up every night, in every event,” Mark said. “With the money we put up, there’s a lot of guys who are going to show up. With everything going on, we expect a sell-out crowd every night. We love to see fans walk up into the stands. I get there early each night and look at the empty stands, and wonder if we’re going to make it, then you look up and the stands are filling up, then you see more and more. Then you go off to do other things and you look up and the stands are full. It’s really exciting to see people come in and fill up the stands. It’s an exciting time of year.”
Special events are planned for each night, and professional cowboys and cowgirls aren’t the only ones who can get into the action at the Harrison Roundup Club Rodeo. The little buckaroos and buckarettes have their own special grand entrance each night, with each riding their very own steed, thanks to Equity Bank and Boone County Independent Living.
“Each of the kids in the stick horse grand entry has a handcrafted stick horse that was crafted by the folks over at Boone County Independent Living,” Mark said. “The kids will get to keep those, and we have 600 of those available. It’s a great way to start the rodeo.”
Youngsters can also sign up for mutton bustin’ each night at 7 p.m. Contestants must register at Powell Feeds in Harrison.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to win a $500 gift card from Powell Farm & Ranch.
Twenty-one-time IPRA Stock Contractor of the Year Hampton Rodeo Company of Springdale, Ark., is the stock contractor for the rodeo.
“(Hampton Rodeo Company owner Kevin Hampton) is at the top of the business in the country,” Mark said.
Hampton Rodeo Company has nearly two-dozen bucking stock of the year championships.
Fast horses and bucking bulls are not the only entertainment at the Harrison Rodeo Roundup Club Rodeo.
ProRodeo Hall of Fame entertainer Lecile Harris will return to Harrison and HRC arena with his renowned cowboy comedy. Lecile began his career in rodeo as a bull rider and bullfighter while still in high school. He was the PRCA Clown of the Year in 1992, and from 1994 through 1996.
“He’s known as the ‘Dean of Rodeo Clowns/Bullfighters’ in the rodeo circuit,” Mark said. “He’s 83 years old, a former star of “Hee Haw” and a whole lot of other things. He’s a songwriter, he’s an actor, he’s a comedian and he brings this all together. He’s the most amazing person; I learn more just by being around him for four days because he’s a wealth of knowledge.”
Twelve-year-old Sophie Duch will also entertain the crowds by showing off her Annie Oakley and cowboy-style of shooting, as well as her trick riding skills. Her awards include the 2019 International Finals Rodeo Contract Acts Showcase Champion; 2016 MSA World Champion Mounted Shooter; 2017 CMSA Reserve National Champion Mounted Shooter; 2013 NRS Mounted Shooting Champion; and 2015, 2016, 2017 Oklahoma and/or Arkansas State Champion Mounted Shooting.
For some spectators, the Harrison Roundup Rodeo allows them to feel like a real cowboy or cowgirl, even if it’s only for the weekend.
“It’s really humbling to see some of the kids,” Mark said. “I’ve been involved with the rodeo for the past 25-plus years in one way or the other, and I’ve seen some of those kids grow up to become good people, good community members. We’re already planning for our 2020 rodeo.”
Pre-rodeo activities begin at 7 p.m., and the rodeo starts each night at 8 p.m.