First responders to get in free at first night of Shrine Rodeo

The Shrine Rodeo will honor the men and women who protect the country abroad and at home, and those who respond in emergencies.

On the first night of the rodeo, May 25, in Tonganoxie at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds, all first responders and military will be admitted to the rodeo for free, along with their families.

First responders: firefighters, emergency medical services, and police, along with active, reserve and retired military, with identification, will be able to watch the rodeo for free.

Several members of the city of Tonganoxie Fire Department have taken advantage of the offer in past years, said Chris Jennings, chief training officer, and they enjoy it.

“It’s a great place to have families together,” he said. It’s a chance for members to get together in a casual setting, instead of on the job. “A lot of times on shift, we don’t get to see everybody we work with, so it’s a way to bring our guys together. It helps our brotherhood. Establishing those personal relationships before the call is important.”

Mike Tavares, the 2017 chairman of the Shrine Rodeo, served in the Army as an aviator for 17 years. He, along with his fellow Shriners, wanted a way to show their respect for those who protect.

“We want them to know we appreciate their efforts, and this is a way to show our gratitude,” he said.

Jennings is new to the area, so he has not attended the rodeo yet, but he plans on it for this year, and will bring his son with him. “I’m excited to bring him over.”

The Shrine Rodeo and Demo Derby kicks off this weekend. The rodeo is May 25-26, with the demo derby on May 27. All three nights begin at 7 pm. Rodeo tickets are $12 for adults and $4 for children ages 4-12. Demo derby tickets are $12 for everyone ages 6 and up.

Tickets can be purchased online at, at Brothers Market in Tonganoxie, and at the gate.

An automotive swap meet will be held on May 27, starting at 8 a.m.

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