Rodeo offers hope for kids

Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch and Girls Town is a legendary institution in the Texas Panhandle.

I’ve concluded that one of the things that contributes to that legend is a two-day rodeo held each year at the ranch, which is about 34 miles northwest of Amarillo in one of the prettiest regions of the Texas Panhandle.

My wife and I took our great niece there this past weekend to watch some kids ride bucking horses, try to ride sheep, rassle some steers and — in one of the more charming events — take part in a hobby horse race.

The late Cal Farley founded the ranch in 1939. It is celebrating its 75th year helping kids who, as the ranch motto says, find a “shirttail to hang on to.” The rodeo was the 70th. The link attached to this brief post was from the 2010 rodeo.

It looks essentially the same today.

Perhaps the most interesting element of this rodeo is that the children — all student/residents at Boys Ranch — have gotten quite proficient on the back of a horse. It’s a very good bet that many of the kids, who come from troubled lives and who enroll at the ranch to get straightened out, never have seen a horse up close, let alone ridden one at a full gallop.

Yet they’re out there competing and from what we were able to witness from our seats in the nearly full arena are having a great time.

There’s something else that deserves high praise. It’s the cost of the concessions.

The rodeo’s mission is to raise money for the ranch. I’ve been to enough fundraising events to know how these things work: You go to support a worthy effort and then pay through the nose for concessions, given that you’re already there and the folks who are putting the event on know you’ll pay for overpriced food and drink.

Boys Ranch’s prices for concessions are dirt cheap, which heightens the enjoyment for those who attend.

All the concessions are donated, so every nickel spent on them goes directly to Boys Ranch and Girls Town coffers.

It is a wonderful event that is worth seeing time and again.

Good job, kids.


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