From an interview with The Team Roping Journal ahead of the 2022 PAFRA World Championship Rodeo.
“PAFRA was started in 2000, and it’s for active duty and retired military, veterans and spouses,” said Corby Kudron, PAFRA’s Team Roping Director.
Corby, a Missouri roper, had a 12-year career with the National Guard—he enlisted ahead of his senior year in high school, in the Desert Storm era—and has been involved in PAFRA for the last four years. His wife, Connie, also handles much of the PR and behind-the-scenes logistics for the championship event.
“This is my second year as team roping director and my wife’s second year in the role she’s in,” Corby explained.
What it Takes
The organization and the event is run entirely by volunteers, which means a lot of after-hours virtual meetings and work for the team.
“It’s fun,” Corby stated. “Really, it’s fun. It’s exhausting, but when it’s all said and done at the end on Saturday, it’s like, ‘that was so much fun and so worth it.’ To see the fruits of your labor is what’s really cool.”
For anyone who’s endeavored to pull off an event of any scale—much less one that draws contestants from all corners of the country—you know the reward of such labor. But for an event that’s held entirely in recognition of the men and women who serve, the fruit is even sweeter.
More Than a Rodeo
“It’s all just military family,” Corby continued. “Everybody’s brothers and sisters in the military. You can walk in there as a stranger and leave with 20 friends because you have something in common to start a conversation with anybody.”
Then, beyond the commonality of military ties, rodeo—and roping—has a way of leveling the playing field. If the goal is to catch, that’s the goal for a four-star general and a Naval plebe, alike.
“It’s been pretty interesting to meet people from all over,” Connie said. “To learn just how decorated they are as far as their awards, their accomplishments, their recognitions in the military. But then, you see that they have the same passion and drive for rodeo that you do, and everyone goes out and has a good time. It doesn’t matter what rank you are.”
Who It’s For
It’s worth noting that children of members are also able to compete at the event, up until their 18th birthdays. The association does maintain circuits in which members can compete throughout the year, but the organization has moved away from the points system that used to determine entry into the annual World Championship Rodeo.
“Your qualification is that you have to be active or retired military,” Corby stated.
For active military members, especially, the probability of being able to rodeo on the weekends is unlikely, even when they’re stateside.
“Some of these guys are taking a break,” Connie said. “They’re taking their leave from active duty to come participate in this rodeo. They’re taking time [away from seeing] their family to come and see this family, as far as PAFRA, and that speaks volumes about how much fun it is for them to get to do that. And they look forward to that every year.”
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