Wilfred Brewster is dedicated to seeing Rodeo Killeen succeed.
For nearly a decade, the director of volunteer services for the City of Killeen has done everything in his power to help the annual event thrive, and there is no task too small.
“Last night, as I stood by the exit gate, a lady from Bolivia came up to me and said she read about the rodeo,” Brewster said. “Her and her husband came because they don’t have anything like it, and they were fascinated. She wanted to take a picture with a cowboy, so since I look like a cowboy, but I’m not, we took a picture.”
Rodeo Killeen hit its midway point Friday evening after opening the 67th anniversary of the event with Military Appreciation Night on Thursday.
Although this year’s competition experienced large turnouts in each of its first two nights, drawing approximately 4,000 people Thursday, Brewster, who coordinates the rodeo’s committee, recalls a time when it seemed doomed.
“The rodeo was folding due to a lack of participants and support,” he said, “but the city gave us a grant 10 years ago, and we have sustained that and grown the event ever since.”
Run by a committee of approximately 30 volunteers and funded by local sponsors, the rodeo has rebounded to become a staple in Central Texas with the total payoff exceeding $30,000.
In addition to growing in popularity, the event has grown in prestige as well with competitors who have come from as far as Australia to participate in this year’s rodeo with equally varied crowds.
“It just depends on what is going on in our widely diverse and almost international city,” Brewster said. “For example, several years ago, the rodeo occurred at the same time we were having a worldwide powerlifting event. So, all those foreign lifters got an opportunity to see a rodeo.”
After beginning the three-night event with an evening dedicated to honoring members of the military in attendance, the mood became more intense Friday as competitors continued attempting to claim the top spots in staples of the sport, such as bareback riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and crowd favorite bull riding.
Held at the Killeen Rodeo Grounds, the event concludes tonight with the preshow beginning at 7:30 p.m. and the rodeo following at 8 p.m.
While Brewster enjoys working behind the scenes, helping to create the best possible product for the public, like most in attendance, he is a fan of the competition.
“Someone will ride and set a benchmark, and then the next night, they ride again with the goal of beating that standard,” he said. “It’s exciting. So you keep coming back night after night to see if they get knocked off their pedestal.”