The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association awarded Abbyville Frontier Days PRCA Rodeo third place in the prairie circuit for best footing — meaning the rodeo ensures a safe and stable ground for the animals in the rodeo. The award specifically focusses on barrel racing horses.
The Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo out of Abilene was voted most improved.
Every year since the early 1990s, the WPRA and Justin Brands have honored rodeo committees that ensured safety and well-maintained rings in each of the 12 circuits. There are 50-60 rodeos in the prairie region, in which Abbyville and Abilene compete, who associate with the WPRA.
The Justin Best Footing Awards recognizes rodeos that help keep animal athletes performing at the top level, but it also recognizes the hard work and time rodeo committees put into making their ground as safe as possible for the barrel horse and all rodeo livestock.
These ladies are riding horses that can cost thousands of dollars, and they don’t want to run in an arena that doesn’t provide good footing,” said Jeff Welker, the Abbyville Frontier Days board president. “The order in which the racers run is the luck of the draw. The challenge for every rodeo is to provide the last barrel racer of the night footing that is just as good as the first racer that night.”
Welker said Kevin Davis does a great job preparing the ground, adding this award confirms that. Barrel racers choose not to enter some rodeos because of the ground conditions.
This award is determined by votes by WPRA membership and circuit directors. The WPRA recognizes the top three rodeo committees in all 12 circuits as well as the most improved ground committee in each circuit. Committee awards provided by Justin include cash bonuses and plaques. In addition, the names of each winner for each of the 12 circuits are put into a drawing for an additional $1,500 bonus from Justin.
“This award is significant because it recognizes Abbyville as one of the best in preparing an arena to give the competitors an opportunity to be able to compete at the highest level in a safe arena,” Welker said. “Abbyville has consistently had over 50 barrel racers for the two-night rodeo, which is more than some three- and four-night rodeos have, and that is due in large part to the ground condition.”
Committee members of The Kansas Biggest Rodeo out of Phillipsburg, which won first place, and the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo out of Abilene, will join Abbyville at the WPRA Star Celebration on Dec. 2 in Las Vegas. Second place in the prairie circuit went to the Jim Shoulders Living Legends Rodeo in Henryetta, Oklahoma.