Nebraska high school rodeo kids enjoy shopping, activities, food in Hastings | TheFencePost.com

Nebraska high school rodeo kids enjoy shopping, activities, food in Hastings

Ruth Nicolaus

The competition might be fierce in the rodeo arena, but as soon as horses are put up and ropes and saddles are put away, the contestants know how to relax.

When the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo stampedes into Hastings next weekend, June 16-18, it brings about one hundred high school kids from across the state to compete in twelve different events. The top thirty in each event, the top sixty in the team roping, come to the Adams County Fairgrounds in search of a state title and the chance to go on to the National High School Finals Rodeo.

But there's time for goofing off, too.

The Adams County Ag Society hosts the finals rodeo, and they make sure the kids have the opportunity for fun. High school rodeo kids can swim at the Hastings water park on June 16, and get free admittance to the Hastings YMCA for the days of rodeo.

“Pulling a dually into the Sonic drive-in is not a good idea.”

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Swimming at the water park is a getaway for Clancy Hesseltine from Halsey. The 17-year-old cowgirl makes a point to go to the waterpark for "tanning and relaxing, and it's a place to mess around with all your friends and dunk them," she said.

Hesseltine will compete at the finals in the pole bending and the breakaway roping, and she and her friends also hit up another store in Hastings: Goodwill Thrift Store.

"We are always up for finding crazy western shirts," she said.

For Georgie Lage, a junior at Arthur County High School, the YMCA is her place to go. The starting point guard for her basketball team, Lage loves to shoot hoops with friends at the YMCA. She rodeos with some of the same girls she plays basketball against, and in Hastings, "we like to play with each other instead of always against each other."

At regular season rodeos, Georgie will search out that town's court, but it's nice to play at the YMCA.

"It's indoors and it's all air conditioned, and there's quite a few big basketball courts to play on, which is nice. You don't have to share with anybody else," she said.

Food is a big part of life for high school kids, and the rodeo contestants are no exception. Many of them are from small towns that don't have the choices of restaurants that Hastings has. Lage and her friends make ice cream runs after each rodeo performance to the Ampride convenience store just south of the fairgrounds. Chocolate chip mint is their choice.

For Jada Jensen, a graduated senior from Hyannis High School, the Sonic fast food chain is the draw, sometimes twice a day. She is a professed Sonic fanatic, and when she's home, her closest Sonic is two hours away in North Platte.

"It has everything," she said. "Tater tots, French fries, grilled cheese, hot dogs. I make at least a daily trip to Sonic."

Hesseltine also loves Sonic, and gets the lime-ades, which Jensen also loves.

Jensen relates that driving a dually truck to Sonic can be tough.

"Pulling a dually into the Sonic drive-in is not a good idea," she laughed. "There was only one stall big enough for my outfit, and the lady who came out said, 'You're not going to fit in there.'"

High school rodeo athletes are also welcome to shoot at the Four Rivers Sportsmen's Club east of Hastings. Jim Price, past president of the Club, loves to see the kids.

"They're polite, easy to get along with, and very well behaved. You can just tell right away, they're a little bit of a cut above. We really like them."

High school rodeo athletes are easily recognized around town, as they are required to wear their back numbers not only in the arena but throughout the day. ❖

More info

This year’s high school finals will be held June 16-18, with performances at 10 am and 6 pm on June 16 and 17 and a finals performance on June 18 at 1 pm. Tickets are $7 for everyone ages six and up and can be purchased through the Adams County Fairgrounds office (402.462.3247) and at the gate. For more information, visit AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com or hsrodeo-nebraska.com, or call 402.462.3247.