Local roper overseeing next week’s Shrine Rodeo
A cowboy will be at the helm of this year’s Shrine Rodeo May 26-28 in Tonganoxie.
Jason Cooper, a team roper, will be responsible for the production and arena setup of the rodeo at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds.
The Tonganoxie man loves to team rope, and he owns all the tools necessary for the trade: a horse trained for the sport, a rope, pair of boots and a cowboy hat.
And now he wears that cowboy hat as part of the Abdallah Shrine Temple. The Shriners have produced the annual Shrine Rodeo for the past 51 years, and this year, for the first time, Cooper will serve as production manager.
In that capacity, Cooper hires the rodeo personnel. He makes sure the arena at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds is set up and is responsible for everything that takes place in the arena during the event. In his first year in the role, the perfectionist in him has sometimes been frustrated.
“I want to plan the work and work the plan and right now, I’m working the plan as I make it,” Cooper said. “Next year will be a piece of cake.”
He loves team roping because of the timing and precision involved between two cowboys, two horses, and a steer. Team roping is “trying to make all the complicated movements come together. You work with your (team roping) partner, your horse, the steer, and it’s exciting when it all comes together. It’s all about adrenaline.”
Being production manager is similar to team roping, in making all of the pieces — Shriners, rodeo personnel, fair board, and all the details — come together. And, like team roping, the week of the rodeo, Cooper will run on adrenaline, he thinks. He’s taking off from his job as a technology manager for the week of the rodeo, and will have his horse trailer with living quarters at the fairgrounds, to “take naps if I need to.”
So far, Cooper has loved the volunteer job. “It’s been three times the work I thought it would be and twice as much fun. I’ve had a lot of fun meeting new people.”
His wife Kathy is a barrel racer; they have a son, Luke, age 7.
The Shrine Rodeo will take place May 26-28 at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds in Tonganoxie. For more information, visit shrinerodeo.com or call (913) 362-5300.
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