Young kids around this area have been attending rodeo's organized by the AFRA-American Family Rodeo Association. These cowboys and cowgirls have been competing and riding sheep, calves, mini bulls, mini broncs, barrel racing, pole bending and more.
These kids work hard all season through the heat, rain, cold, sweat and tears and get plenty of bumps and bruises and even sometimes broken bones along the way. They may get knocked off or thrown off, but they get right back up, smile and wave and jump on another. They do all of this to win money at each rodeo and to win buckles at the end of the season. They also pay a yearly membership of $50 to go toward a jacket with the AFRA logo and finalist printed on it.
This past year (2019) kids participated in finals rodeo in Belle on Oct. 19, 2019. This was an all-day rodeo. They did two rodeos in one day. Each kid paid their entry fees (which range anywhere from $20 to $60 per event), many kids were in multiple events and added up to $100 per kid, or more. For the finals, members had to have sponsors, many were local business owners, family and friends, which ran anywhere from $35 to $350 (which has to be sent in ahead of time to the AFRA-Secretary/Treasurer and President).
This was on top of their entry fees. Once again, many members had multiple sponsors which added up to a lot of money. In my opinion, there was thousands of dollars brought in for this event.
When the rodeo was over kids who placed got their picture taken with the president and a buckle (which was from previous years) and told they would receive their buckles at year end banquet. Kids asked for their check which they earned for placing in the first or second spot in their event. They were told they would receive their check in the mail. Weeks and months later kids were asking for their checks and they were told there is no money so there will be no checks. Where did all that money they paid in for their events and the sponsorship money go?
To make these cowboys and cowgirls sad this way and to cheat and steal from them is very wrong. Thank you.