Students, fans glad to be back at the International Finals Youth Rodeo

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star

Students from near and far are enjoying their time at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee this week.

Campbell Cooper from Missouri, who said she has competed in rodeo since she was young, is competing in breakaway roping and has been looking forward to being here this week.

"It feels great being able to do it again this year. It feels great to be to see all our friends from different states that you got to meet years before," Cooper said.

More rodeo coverage:International Finals Youth Rodeo underway in Shawnee

Breakaway roping competitor and 15-year-old Colby Freeman, also from Missouri, said this is her first year to compete in the IFYR and she's excited.

Cooper McClain from Kiowa, Colorado riding a bull at the 2021 International Finals Youth Rodeo.

"It's awesome to come back. It's a great rodeo and it's a great experience," Freeman said. "It's super awesome."

In addition to the students, parents and family members of the contestants are enjoying this week as well.

According to Wayne Keys of Shawnee, he's happy to watch his niece compete in the IFYR for the last time this year.

He explained the rodeo is crucial for the city of Shawnee and he's glad it's back this year  after being impacted by COVID-19 in 2020.

Avery Matheson from Winthrop, Arkansas competing in calf roping at the 2021 International Finals Youth Rodeo.

"It's huge for the city and it's great for the kids. It needs to stay here and stay every year," Keys said.

Additionally, Chuck Fretwell of Texas, is here to support his daughter, Kadi, as she competes in the breakaway and team roping at the IFYR.

"I'm glad that they're having it. This is an awesome facility and I appreciate everything that everyone does," Fretwell said.

More:Roster set for this week's $250K IFYR, more than 900 entries set for Shawnee rodeo

Carson Watford from Okeechobee, Florida competing in the calf roping at the 2021 International Finals Youth Rodeo.

Many more students are competing in various events, including bull riding, bareback bronc riding, team roping and others for the remainder of the week. The final performances will be held Friday night.

Check back for updates.