Donning the buckle her mother had won at a Houston rodeo in 1963, Stephen F. Austin State University graduate and professional barrel racer Kendra Dickson returned to the Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo and Steer Show Friday night ready to the take home a title.
“I love being able to come home,” said Dickson. “I’ve always enjoyed this rodeo and I’ve actually never run at a performance here … For the past few years I’ve entered slack, and we’ve done really well, but I’d like to do better. I’d like to go home with the Nacogdoches title.”
Dickson, who is currently ranked 21 in the world for barrel racing, said her ultimate dream is to make it to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
“We accumulate points throughout the season, which is what I’m doing now, and you have to be in the top 15 in the world to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo, which is in December,” she said. “I’ve dreamed about that since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.”
Dickson said in January, following the National Western Livestock Show and Rodeo in Denver, which she took third place in the average of runs, she was ranked No. 4, but every week since, it has changed. Last week she won a round at Rodeo Austin, which has boosted overall standing back up into the top 15, but she said she’ll return to Austin today to do a short run before finding out her overall place.
Dickson, who grew up in Wells, and regularly attended the Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo and Steer Show as a child, being named Miss Rodeo Nacogdoches in 1994, was cheered on by relatives, friends and family Friday night as she competed.
She said both her father, Ed Rosenberger, a local horse trainer and “all-around cowboy,” and mother, Carol Richardson, a former rodeo queen and barrel racer, came to see her ride, as well as aunts and uncles and longtime friends.
In addition to the bull riding, barrel racing and roping events, Friday also marked the 50th anniversary of the annual steer show premium sale, which raised an estimated $110,000.
Clint Lowery of the Douglass FFA sold his Grand Champion steer for $7,500, while Reese Taylor with Martinsville FFA received $3,500 for his reserve champion steer. Lowery’s grandfather, Neil had the first grand champion steer during the inaugural steer show of 1950.
The rodeo fun continues today with morning trail rides and the Nacogdoches Rodeo Queen contest. The evening rodeo events – which has been named “Tough Enough to Wear Pink,” with rodeo contestants, Expo staff and others wearing pink to raise awareness of breast cancer – will begin at 6:30 with the induction of the Rodeo Queen, followed by Muttin Bustin at 7 p.m., grand entry at 7:15 p.m. and the rodeo events at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children. Children under 5 will get in free.
For a complete list of events, visit the Expo Web site at nacexpo.net.