KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's that time of year! Rodeo's finest ropers and riders are coming to Hale Arena this weekend, beginning with Wednesday's high school events.
The American Royal Rodeo is always a big event in Kansas City. That could also be said for a small town in DeKalb County, Missouri as well, where an entire school system boarded buses and headed for KCMO.
The rodeo is accustomed to hosting some huge crowds, but perhaps never an entire school. All 190 students from the Union Star K-12 School in DeKalb County came out to cheer for their favorite cowgirl.
In all three years Allisha Sonderegger has competed in rodeo, the 16-year-old from Union Star, Missouri says she never dreamed her entire school would come to watch. The small town of Union Star, which is home to fewer than 500 people, sits just over an hour north of Kansas City.
When Sonderegger was invited to rope and ride in two events at the American Royal High School Rodeo, school leaders decided to support her in the loudest way possible, busing the entire school to Kansas City.
“Not many people can say they had their whole school come watch them,” Sonderegger said. “Everyone's been like, 'good luck' and 'we're so excited to come watch you.' I'm glad they got to come watch me do what I love to do.”
Sonderegger shared her stage, as the school marching band played the national anthem and the student body took in exhibits from the world of farming and livestock production.
Union Star Principal Chris Turpin says school leaders saw this as a chance to educate kids outside the classroom.
“We are a rural community in Northwest Missouri,” Turpin said. “They'll get an opportunity not only to see how important agriculture is to our community, but our whole entire country.”
“It was awesome. I loved having them here and having them cheer me on,” Sonderegger said.
Sonderegger told FOX 4 News it's back to high school rodeo events for her, with the next event coming up in two weeks. However, she says nothing will ever compare to the thrill of having her entire school watch her compete.
The American Royal Rodeo events continue throughout Saturday night. As for the World Series of Barbecue, those events are on the calendar for next weekend.