Some 14 months into the creation of the Cody Buckle Club the group has 25 members, inching towards a hoped-for total of 275.
It also had a very visible presence at the July 4 week 100th anniversary Cody Stampede Rodeo in Stampede Park.
The club staked out a corner facing the roping chutes for outdoor seating on a flatbed trailer and an eating and drinking area in a portable vehicle emblazed with a large sign identifying the group.
The formation of the club was revealed in May of 2018 and the organization did have specially designated seating, albeit in a different corner of the arena, last year.
As its primary mission, the Buckle Club’s goal is to preserve the community’s rodeo heritage, help with fundraising for facilities improvement and to encourage young people’s participation in the sport.
“It’s been really good,” said Amanda Brengle, the club director
There are a wide range of memberships and benefits which can accrue from joining, depending upon the donation made to the 501(c)(3).
By any standard the pace of the number of those joining has proceeded slowly.
Platinum membership calls for a $20,000 initiation fee and $5,000 annual dues. Gold is $10,000 and $3,000 in annual fees and Silver is $2,000 and $1,500 in dues.
Benefits range from perks such as the hospitality corner with beverages and food, to preferred parking and items such as Stampede passes and season tickets to Cody Nite Rodeo.
At the recent Clint Black concert at the Stampede grounds, “We had our own section,” Brengle said.
Brengle said members believe in rodeo and even include people who are retirees and only seasonal residents.
Holder of belt buckle No. 1 and president of the club is Joe Hertzler, one of the Buckle Club’s cofounders.
In line with providing more opportunities for young people to break into rodeo, the Buckle Club is playing a role hosting a Wyoming Junior Rodeo Association event, July 13-14, Brengle said.
She supports Little Britches rodoes and the role Cody Nite Rodeo plays in offering junior steer and junior barrels competitions.
“It is where it starts,” Brengle said. “By the time you’re 17 or 18, if you haven’t gotten on a horse (you’re probably not going to compete).”
Brengle has teenaged daughters who barrel race.
In 2016, the Stampede Board of Directors declared its long-term intention of constructing a $1 million, 1,000-seat indoor facility on rodeo land adjacent to West Yellowstone Avenue.
An indoor arena where kids can compete year-round would be a huge step, Brengle said.
Perhaps one day, it was noted, Cody could host winter rodeos much like Miller’s Horse Palace does in nearby Laurel.
Larry Patrick, a local radio station owner who possesses the No. 3 belt buckle, symbolic of his early sign-up to the club’s roster, said an indoor rodeo facility can provide economic benefits.
He has marveled at how many young people – and their parents – come to the Rec Center for swim meets and how ice skaters and hockey players show up in Cody, as well.
“These are people who are spending money,” he said of those visitors who eat and stay in hotels during the sporting events.
A facility that could house winter rodeos for young people could play a significant role in developing more adult rodeo participants.
“I think it would be a great indoor arena for kids,” Patrick said of the hypothetical building.