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Gove County, KS : Community News

by Gayle Weber
June 5, 2012 - Hays Daily News

PARK -- The sponsor list for the only rodeo in Gove County this summer was long. But frankly, the rodeo couldn't happen without them. Nor without its volunteers.

The Gove County Rodeo, which takes place during the first weekend of June each year, is a community effort -- and that community stretches from Quinter to Oakley, Hoxie to Utica.

Park became the home for the rodeo 24 years ago when the Gove County Rodeo Club purchased the former ballfields to bring a rodeo arena into town. Prior to that, Mike Kuntz had hosted a rodeo on his ranch about 20 miles south of town.

Now, the rodeo club is in charge. With up to 20 active members, it takes a lot of dedication from those members to rope in sponsors each year. Joni Kerns said the group hits the ground running about the first of April to make the rodeo happen.

And, by the time the first of June rolls around, it takes even more time, effort and volunteers to get the rodeo to go off without a hitch.

"A lot of people that don't belong to the club help during the rodeo," said Dave Gillespie, Quinter, a member of the club for about five years. "We couldn't do it without them."

The two-night rodeo gives children an opportunity to ride animals before the cowboys and cowgirls take to the arena. And the rodeo is a convenient stop for many western Kansas competitors on their way to rodeos across the region.

Kerns, who worked in the concession stand Friday night, said the group does fundraisers for improvements to the rodeo grounds on occasion, but has yet to bring in other events to the arena.

"We wish we could do more," Kerns said.

The crowd Friday night filled the few stands that sit on the west side of the arena. More cowboys and fans planted themselves on picnic tables and the beds of pickups to watch the action.

"It's just the people that are here. You know everybody," Becky Weber said of why she makes the rodeo an annual stop.

Weber is a Park native who now lives across the county in Grinnell. Though she didn't grow up attending the rodeo, she does now to see friends and family.

Kerns said she expected less of a turnout Saturday night -- and fewer volunteers would be available -- because of a wedding in the county.

"We may be small but we're pretty mighty," Kerns said.

by Judy Sherard
August 13, 2012 - Hays Daily News

GOVE -- Since the theme of the Gove Old Settlers' Days was the 59th annual Party on the Prairie, Lakota Melgoza wanted her horse Smoky in party gear.

That meant painting colorful handprints on Smoky's hindquarters, as well as painting his hoofs for the parade Saturday morning.

It took Lakota, 14, about an hour to do the job because "he wouldn't stand still," she said.

Though this was Smoky's first parade, Lakota has been riding since she was 5.

So has her sister, Desirae Melgoza, 18, a freshman at Colby Community College and a member of the school's equestrian team. Her horse, Queen, bore the team's triple "C" marking.

As the Melgoza sisters readied their horses for the parade, Sheila Selensky and Virginia Wessel were lining up the entries.

Selensky and her husband, Richard, "have always lined up the parade," Wessel said. This is the second year Wessel has pitched in to help.

It wasn't an easy job; there were more than 30 entries plus the horses. The entries usually are judged in the theme, automotive, business, horsemanship and bike categories. However, there weren't any traditional bikes in this year's parade.

The class of 1952, celebrating its 60th reunion, entered a float with six of the nine living classmates on board.

"It always amazes me how many show up to take part," said Marilea Beougher, a member of the class.

Ten years ago, Marcella Moore, Grainfield, had shirts made with 50 years on the back to honor their 50th reunion.

They wore them again, but this year Moore used a black marker to transform the 50 to a 60.

"I'm ready for 80," (but) we'll have to skip 70," she said of being able to alter the number.

It was everything purple for Arlin Ziegler, who farms southeast of Grainfield.

Ziegler drove his antique truck decked out in Kansas State University purple in the parade.

"Dad bought it in '54 when I was 6 years old," he said of the truck. "We hauled a lot of grain with it."

Then it was parked and forgotten until a couple of years ago Ziegler, who's farmed for 35 years, decided to restore the truck.

"It was a mess when I hauled it out of the trees," Ziegler said.

It took about six months to clean it up, reupholster the seats and paint it purple.

Von Tuttle served as the parade announcer identifying the antique vehicles, business entries and drivers as they passed.

Clem and Pauline Zerr, who recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary, rode in a place of honor as king and queen of this year's special celebration.

The annual celebration kicked off Friday with a tractor pull for the kids and the Gove Fire Department hog roast.

After the parade, there was a lunch, poker run, races, games and sand volleyball, followed by a supper of pulled pork and beef brisket and dance with DJ Jeremy Blackwill.