Silver Spurs: Rodeo is Our Business, Helping is Our Mission
“For it is in giving that we receive.”
This age-old quote reminds me of all the Silver Spurs Club members who give their time, money, and hearts to make this non-profit organization thrive.
Lord knows I couldn’t do it all myself! You see, I’m the one and only employee of Silver Spurs. That’s right, it’s just me. I run day-to-day administrative operations, but without our volunteer-members there’d be no Silver Spurs Rodeo.
This month’s Wranglers Champions Challenge is the latest example of our volunteers in action. From running stock in the chutes behind the scenes to serving refreshments to fans in the stands, our members do it all for each and every rodeo we host. The Champions Challenge is a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) event, but the Spurs helped organize and run the event with about 200 volunteers, which included children and friends of members.
Dusty Holley is one of our rodeo secretaries. A rodeo secretary does everything from coordinate with judges to collect money from rodeo contestants. In customary Spurs fashion, Dusty’s wife, Hilary Holley, has inherited rodeo duties since the young couple married a few years ago. She actually started our Instagram account, capturing all our rodeos and events with wonderful photography. Thanks again, Hilary!
Then there’s old-timers like Ed Partin, who grills the meanest/tastiest steaks in town for rodeo participants, year in and year out. He’s a lifelong rancher, now in his 70s, with an affinity for feeding folks. When he was a young buck, he competed in his fair share of rodeos and went on to serve as our organization’s leader, who we call the “Big Boss”. Instead of running the show nowadays, Ed sticks to the steaks. And we couldn’t be more thankful…or full!
And speaking of food, our concession stands are a point of pride for the Silver Spurs Club. Not only do we enjoy feeding the hungry crowds, we love being able to do it for a reasonable price. You can get a burger fresh off the grill, popcorn, a drink (even a beer!) and other snacks for just a few bucks.
Martha Booth and her daughter Ashley Fluke are the epitome of family teamwork at the Spurs. They help run the concession stands, which might sound simple. But it’s no easy task preparing for and serving thousands of people in one night, especially when that’s not your regular job. But Martha, a longtime Osceola County educator, and Ashley, an Osceola County extension agent, might as well be professionals when you see how they run that operation.
What’s more, Ashley is the club’s Quadrille coach. (The Quadrille is a square-dance on horseback that our club has perfected and become known for over the years.) They practice weekly six months out of the year. And on rodeo nights, Ashley high-tails it from the arena floor after the opening Quadrille performance right up to snack shack central! Talk about double duty!
Our concession sales are one of the main ways we raise money. But again, we’re not out to make a buck. We’re dedicated to promoting rodeo and providing an entertaining, family-friendly show for Osceola County residents and visitors.
While all of our 400 members (and their kids!) are ambassadors for the Spurs, some are especially focused on deepening relationships within the community. Celia Thacker, daughter of our current Big Boss, Jo Thacker, is one such volunteer. She works with our VIP guests — including elected officials and local movers and shakers — and helps educate people about our club, the sport of rodeo, and Osceola’s historic roots in agriculture. Her family are all lifelong Spurs members, too. She was initiated just a few months ago after graduating from law school and moving back to Kissimmee.
Our development efforts in recent years have been vital to increasing Spurs’ visibility in the world of professional rodeo and bringing more events like the Champions Challenge to our arena here at Osceola Heritage Park.
Many of our members grew up in the Spurs, their earliest memories forged in the old outdoor arena where our indoor facility now sits. Things have changed physically since the new indoor arena opened in 2003, but the spirit of the Spurs remains the same. We love rodeo and we pride ourselves on being good neighbors.
Giving back is at the core of our mission. After establishing the club in 1941, our founding members began organizing rodeos that benefitted the Red Cross and other charities. A few years later, after we had built our first arena off Neptune Road in Kissimmee, we hosted a rodeo that aided the country’s WWII effort. Admission was the purchase of a war bond!
More than seventy years and two arenas later, we’re still putting on rodeos; two Silver Spurs Rodeos and the Champions Challenge (which led to Kissimmee playing host to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in April). And we’re still paying it forward!
Our June rodeo benefits Horses for Heroes, sponsored by the nearby Heavenly Hooves therapeutic riding center in Harmony, Florida. They’re partners with the McCormick Research Institute and the UCF College of Medicine, and they provide equine therapy for veterans. For 10 weeks these men and women — many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — meet once a week for three hours. The group typically includes eight veterans, an equine professional, and a mental health therapist. We’re proud to do our part to help serve those who served.
February rodeo proceeds benefit Florida Hospital’s cancer research institute. And we provide thousands of dollars in annual scholarships for local kids through the Osceola County Education Foundation.
So here’s to horses, health, happiness, and rodeo! Again, hats off to all our volunteer-members who are the heart and soul of this historic organization.
Ready to experience your first rodeo? Save the date for Saturday, February 10th for our 7th Annual Monster Bulls where you can watch real cowboys go up against some of the “rankest” and baddest Silver Spurs bulls. Or, join us February 16th through the 18th for the 140th Silver Spurs Rodeo where you can watch seven of rodeo’s traditional events: bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, women’s barrel racing and team roping! Hope to see y’all then!