Volunteers still needed for rodeo expected to bring thousands of people, millions of dollars to Lincoln

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - In about a week, nearly 2,000 teens, their families and their horses will descend upon Lincoln for the National High School Rodeo finals.

Preparations are underway at the Lancaster Event Center, which is hosting the rodeo for the first time, something they’ve been planning for since 2015.

“This is like the Olympics but for rodeo and western sports,” Hoyt Kraeger, business development manager at the Lancaster Event Center said.

Seventeen-hundred contestants from 43 states, five Canadian provinces and Mexico will be at the event center for the finals which run July 18-24. They are the top four competitors from each location in every category of event, like saddle riding, bull riding, steer racing, breakaway roping, barrel racing and more.

While a lot of work has been done, like getting arenas and horse stalls ready, there is one more thing the Lancaster Event Center needs to put on the rodeo.

“We need volunteers to help check in the 1,700 competitors,” Kraeger said.

Check-in starts the evening of July 15 and will run until the morning of the 18th. Kraeger said they specifically need volunteers for the overnight shifts.

“It’s a great way to meet a lot of people with lots of different accents,” Kraeger said.

Staff said volunteering doesn’t just help the rodeo, it also helps Lincoln.

“There are going to be people everywhere, contestants, parents, grandparents,” Chas Skillett, Senior Operations Manager for the Lancaster Event Center said.

They said they’ll all be here in Lancaster County spending money, buying tickets, shopping at the Western trade show and eating and patronizing local businesses. The economic impact from the event is estimated to be $16 million, four times that of one Husker football game.

“It’s really big,” Kraeger said. “It’s going to be one of the biggest events to hit Nebraska this summer.”

They’re anticipating about 30,000 tourists to come to Lincoln throughout the event, not only to participate but also to watch the rodeo. Lincoln people are invited too.

“This event is a big stepping stone for these kids and to support them from every state and see them go on to bigger and better goals is pretty cool,” Skillett said.

There will be 50 competitors from Nebraska.

To volunteer or buy tickets, head to the Lancaster Event Center website.

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