Special to Reflector-Chronicle
ABILENE– Abilene will be the destination for rodeo cowboys and cowgirls across the nation this weekend.
When the 68th annual Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo kicks off on Wednesday night, it'll bring 459 contestants to town to compete in seven events.
Among those 400+ cowboys are four of the reigning world champions and five of last year’s Abilene champions.
Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, is the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association’s 2012 All-Around champ, as well as the Abilene All-Around champ. He will tie-down and team rope. The PRCA 2012 Team Roping champion Jade Corkill, Saddle Bronc Riding champion Jesse Wright, and Bull Riding champion Cody Teel will also compete in Abilene.
Returning Abilene champions include Brazile, steer wrestler Chance Howard, Cedarville, Ark., team ropers Hunter Munsell, Arnett, Okla. and Derrick Jantzen, Ames, Okla., and barrel racer Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla.
Of the 459 contestants slated to compete, there are a combined total of 50 world champions, including Trevor Brazile (17 in the tie-down roping, team roping and the all-around), Clay O’Brien Cooper (9 in the team roping), Fred Whitfield (8 in the tie-down roping and all-around), Dean Gorsuch (2 in the steer wrestling), and many others. Among the 459 contestants, there are approximately 348 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifications.
Many of the cowboys and cowgirls competing in Abilene will also compete in three other rodeos taking place in Kansas this week: Abilene July 31-August 3, Phillipsburg August 1-3, Dodge City July 31-August 4, and Hill City July 29-31.
Rodeo performances are at 7:30 pm nightly on July 31-August 3. Slack for the roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing is July 31 at 8 am. Tickets are $10 for adults in advance and $12 at the gate. Children’s tickets are $6 for ages 6-12; 5 and under are free. Tickets are available at the gate, online at www.ckff.net, and at area retailers. For more information, call the Central Kansas Free Fair office at 785-263-4570 or visit WildBillHickokRodeo.com.