Barbara Kessler serves up Silver Spurs Rodeo history and its ‘All the way’ Sauce
Our organization’s foundation was made with three principles: family values, charitable giving, and community service. Generations of the Silver Spurs Riding Club members work year-round to make an impact in the production of our rodeos and in turn, make an impact in our community. With more than 400 volunteers in the Silver Spurs Riding Club, the Board of Directors carefully chooses two hard-working women every year and awards them the Women’s Lifetime Achievement Award. On the blog, we introduce you to Barbara Kessler, one of the 2019 Women’s Lifetime Achievement Award winners and a dedicated member of the Silver Spurs Riding Club.
Barbara grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and went to college at Indiana University for her freshman year and the University of Louisville for her sophomore and junior year until her family moved to Orlando. She received a bachelors degree at Stetson and then later attended Rollins, where she received her Masters in Arts. In 1954, Barbara moved to Kissimmee, married Tom Kessler and had two sons, Mark and John. Barbara worked for the Osceola County School District for 19 years as a teacher while Tom managed McCrory (now Leniar) and later became the Osceola County Finance Director.
The couple got their start with the Silver Spurs Riding Club when Dan Autry asked Tom to help the Club grill hamburgers. Gradually, Barbara became involved and volunteered her time in the concession stands where she hand topped each burger, just how the customer ordered it. Both Barbara and Tom grew fond of the fellowship of the members within the Silver Spurs Riding Club and the lessons that are taught to the upcoming generations. After years of volunteering, they both became official Silver Spurs Riding Club members in the 1980s.
But Barbara and Tom aren’t the only Kesslers that volunteer their time with the Club. One of her sons, Mark, served as Big Boss in the Club in 2002-2003 and currently runs the sound production for the Miss Silver Spurs Pageant. One of their five grandchildren, Justin Kessler, works in the back pens where he prepares the bulls and broncs for the bull riding, bareback riding and saddle bronc riding events. Brandon Kessler, another grandson of Barbara and Tom, was a PRCA team roper for years and has competed at Silver Spurs Rodeos.
Barbara Kessler was more than surprised when asked to accept the Women’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In fact, she thought they had asked the wrong person. Mrs. Kessler said that she will “try to live up to the title” but, after nearly 50 years of volunteering, it’s safe to say she was more than deserving of the 2019 award! Mr. and Mrs. Kessler served the Silver Spurs Riding Club for decades, and while they don’t work in the concession stands or behind the grill any longer, they do enjoy watching the rodeo they worked so hard to build (alongside many other members, of course). Their favorite event to watch is barrel racing, but they have a special admiration for the Silver Spurs Quadrille team because of the speed and the amount of work that goes into the performance.
Want to see what the Silver Spurs Rodeo is all about? Check our event schedule to see when our next rodeo is and when tickets go on sale. Between the action-packed rodeo events and the family-fun activities, you won’t want to miss the rodeo when it comes to town!