Throughout the week of the CNFR, and the week before too, there are a lot of people that come together to make this all happen. Of course there are the usual suspects; the staff of the City of Casper and the County, the staff of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, and the staff of each vendor booth. BUT, what about everything else? What about the rodeo- surely all of those workers in their matching shirts- tan, blue, red, pink, tan, blue... not all of them are paid. In the arena, behind the chutes, and way behind the scenes that we can't even see, we did a quick calculation of roughly 50 volunteers. That is just the ones that are working during the rodeo. That doesn't count the ones on the CNFR committee, the ones helping those on the CNFR committee. My guess is that there are at least 100 volunteers total. This is a low estimate. Think about it. Committee members, pancake cookers, contestant bag stuffers... oh man. I know I am missing something. I thought I would take a little of my quality writing time to mention just a couple, by name.

Who is that blonde girl holding the goat? Let me tell you, this is a very thankless job. If you haven't ever held the goat while there is a girl a horseback barreling down the middle of the arena, horses' ears pinned back, literally running you down,you have no idea how scary that can be. This year that lucky position is given to Miss Jaice Cross. She is the daughter of Chad Cross from Ft. Scott Community College. Based on the position that she was given, I'm not sure if she volunteered for it or was volun-told.

It must be something about being the kid of a rodeo coach. Elise Brown, the daughter of Jim Dewey Brown from New Mexico State University, is the young lady you might catch running back and forth from the announcer stand to the rodeo secretary. At the end of each event she is delivering the official timers sheets so that the official results can be posted. This is a very important job and given to a very capable young lady. For those really paying attention, Jim Dewey is also the Arena Director for this great rodeo. My bet is that she was offered the goat holder position and turned it down. She got here early enough pick. Lucky girl.

Outside of family obligations, there are a ton more volunteers. Those young men that are running all over the arena to gather up the flank straps are working their tails off. When Denton Skogen and Clayton and Wyatt Atkinson aren't running around the arena, they are in the back, helping Brent Carruth, also a volunteer, pull rigging and saddles off the broncs. It might have something to do with the fact that Denton's mom is on the committee, but I am pretty sure he would be here if she wasn't. Who, as a 16 year old kid, wouldn't want to hang out at the rodeo all day?

Ok, I could go on with this forever, but one last thing I want to talk about is the "Volunteer Coordinator" from the local committee. Mike Ballard, a local Casper guy, is responsible for finding volunteers to help direct traffic for the contestant parking at the Event Center. As you can imagine, that is a lot of work. I would guestimate nearly 200 rodeo rigs to help navigate the parking lots. All of them want a little slice of grass for their horses to stand on. Not easy. Plus, Monday and Tuesday are some long days with that slack round. Geesh.

I am about to date myself, big time here... but here goes. Since my freshman year in college, in 1999, I have, in one way or another, participated in the CNFR. The first year it was here, 99', I didn't qualify, but volunteered. In 2000, I was blessed to be a contestant. The following two years, due to injury and not qualifying, I was a volunteer. I qualified again in 2003. I have been a volunteer, either with the local committee or with the National Office in one way or another ever since then. It still amazes me and no matter what, they are my extended family. I am forever grateful for the opportunities this rodeo has given me!

Without these volunteers, or volun-tolds, this event would not be possible. Hats off to you!