ABILENE, Texas - Big wheels rolled into Abilene on Sunday to check in at the Texas High School Rodeo. More than 600 teens and 800 horses will be competing.
The state finals kick off Monday at the Taylor County Expo Center. The weeklong event typically brings in about 1,800 people to the city of Abilene and nearly $2 million in revenue. For shoppers there are 60 vendors in the shopping mall.
Texas High School Rodeo Association President Hailey Kinsel brought four of her family's 11 horses to compete in the rodeo. Hailey said she prepares year-round for the state finals.
"We tie goats everyday till we're sweating and dirty and it's fun when it pays off," Hailey said. "You know it will when you get here and do well. Even just getting to a place like this and being able to compete with kids this good."
Not only does she compete statewide, but her family also raises cattle for a living. She said competing is a huge financial commitment.
"You have to pay for a hookup, to hook up your trailer, so that you'll have electricity and water and everything throughout the week and those are about $50," Hailey said.
Hailey and her family rode to Abilene in their trailer, which is where they will bunk up while in town. While competing is a big responsibility, her duties don't stop there. Hailey also serves as the rodeo president for the entire association.
"There are all these kids that I don't even know, but I represent them on the state level," she said. "The decisions I make affect them – and it really puts it into perspective of how lucky I am to be in the position, how blessed I am to be able to come here and compete against kids this good."
If Hailey take first place in all her events, she stands to win $8,000 to $10,000. The top 15 percent of teens will compete at the Nationals in Wyoming. The rodeo wraps up Saturday, June 15.