Well our boots are getting antsy here in Kissimmee, Florida as we get ready for what’s considered the “play-off game” for the “Super Bowl of rodeo”, the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR). The RNCFR will kick off its first rodeo performance on April 7, 2016. We’re excited to scream “Yee-haw!” as this annual event returns for its second year!
While the RNCFR is still new to Kissimmee, this ain’t Kissimmee’s first rodeo! Kissimmee has more than 70 years of rodeo history running deep throughout Osceola County. Kissimmee has been home to several rodeos on a local, state, and now national level as we are hosting the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo at the Silver Spurs Arena. (Fun fact: Prior to the RNCFR relocating to Kissimmee, Florida, it was held in Guthrie, Oklahoma.)Rodeo isn’t like most sports, where you can understand the main points of the game after a few plays. Rodeo is a little more complex, and to get to the championship, there are more factors than just a few points here and there. You might wonder, ‘How does a cowboy or cowgirl make it to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee?’ Cowboys and cowgirls must compete within the “NFL of rodeo”, known as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), and qualify in at least 1 of the 12 PRCA rodeo circuits divided up across the United States. Listed here are the 12 PRCA rodeo circuits and the states that make up those circuits:
- Badlands Circuit – North and South Dakota
- California Circuit – California
- Columbia River Circuit – Idaho, Washington, and Oregon
- First Frontier Circuit – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey
- Great Lakes Circuit – Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Kentucky
- Montana Circuit – Montana
- Mountain States Circuit – Wyoming and Colorado
- Prairie Circuit – Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas
- Southeastern Circuit – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas
- Texas Circuit – Texas
- Turquoise Circuit – Arizona and New Mexico
- Wilderness Circuit – Nevada, Vermont, and the southern part of Idaho
The top 12 cowboys and cowgirls in each event, from each circuit, will advance to their respected circuit finals rodeo. In order to be among the top 12, these tough cowboys and cowgirls must ride well, score high, and earn as much money as they can. Advancement to a circuit final is based on the contestant’s cumulative winnings within their respective circuit, so they need to win big! Only the top two cowboys and cowgirls from each of the 12 circuits (the winners of each circuit finals rodeo) will get the opportunity to advance to the RNCFR in Kissimmee, Florida.
Another thing worth noting is that the RNCFR is run tournament style, meaning the first performance on Thursday, April 7, 2016 will kick off a five-performance rodeo event. Once the competition begins, each contestant has two chances – yep, only two! – to make it to the next round during competition. The contestants are then eliminated down to the top eight, then onto the final four. The final performance will be held on Sunday, April 10 – also known as Champions Day.
So who will be the 2016 RNCFR Champions? We’re only 7 months away from finding out!