SPRINGFIELD, Ill – Illinois Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke along with State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick welcome contestants and spectators from across the globe to Springfield as the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) prepare to get underway. Contestants will begin moving in Thursday, July 20 at noon and continue checking into the fairgrounds around the clock through Sunday July 23.
“It’s been five years since they visited our fairgrounds but we are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to host the Nation High School Finals Rodeo once again,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “This is a great family event that allows our young people from around the world to show off their talents in the rodeo arena and shed a little bit of light on a sport that doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the Midwest.”
Opening ceremonies will be held Sunday evening in the Grandstand at 5:15 followed by a musical performance featuring country star Jason Aldean with local group City Limits opening the show at 7:00 p.m. The concert is sponsored by WFMB Country 104.5 and Bob Ridings family of dealerships Tickets for the concert are $8 in advance and $10 the night of the show and can be purchased at the State Fair ticket office or Ticketmaster locations and Ticketmaster online.
Rodeo events begin at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 24 and go through 1:00 p.m. Sunday July 30. NHSFR contestants compete in a dozen events, including Steer Wrestling, Barrel Racing and Team Roping.
In addition to the rodeo events, a Western Tradeshow will be held in the Orr Building beginning Saturday, July 22. Vendors will have Western apparel, jeans, hats, boots, belts, buckles, jewelry, tack, saddles, bits, spurs, home décor, rough stock equipment and leather items on hand. There will also be an Outdoor Tradeshow to the east of the Orr Building selling trailers, buildings, farrier supplies and livestock systems.
West Quest, a not-for profit western heritage organization, will present daily seminars by world class trainers, horse dentists and farriers, including the farrier who works on the British Royal Family’s horses. Nationally recognized radio personality Trent Loos, will host his daily radio show from the event. As part of a partnership with the Cowboy Cancer Crusade, West Quest will also conduct cancer screenings targeted at oral cancer. The screenings will be held in conjunction with St. John’s Hospital Cancer Institute, the Simmons Cooper Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society the Sangamon County Health Department and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. All West Quest events are free of charge and take place in the Livestock Center from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
“Whether you are a true rodeo fan or just curious about the sport, we encourage local residents to come over to the fairgrounds and check out this fantastic event,” State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick said. “Between the excitement of the rodeo and all the other happenings on the fairgrounds it’s sure to be a memorable family event.”
Other features on the fairgrounds include a variety of food vendors, the Meijer grocery store and the Illinois Dairymen’s Association ice cream sale in the Dairy Building and the Skyride which will be in operation along with the Giant Slide. Adventure Village rides will be open Sunday, July 23 from12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Saturday, July 29 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 30 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
A trackless tram route will also run throughout Fairgrounds. Stops will include: Grandstand Avenue / Pedestrian Tunnel; Goat Barn / Lot 21; Orr Building / Tradeshow; 4 H Lane; 8th Street Road; Arena / Competitions; Campgrounds; Happy Hollow and Gate 2. The tram will run from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily. The cost is $1.00 per ride, $3.00 per all day wristband or $15.00 for a wristband that’s good for the entire week.
Admission into the rodeo is $8 for adults and $6 for children 5-12. A season pass can be purchases for $75 for adults and $40 for kids 5-12. Tickets for the final Sunday events are $14.
For more information you can go to www.rodeofinals.org or call 217-782-6661.