The first annual Kuna Rodeo kicks off Friday, and according to Lini Chytka, preparations are moving at a dizzying pace.
Lini and her husband Cody Chytka are the owners of the Crooked 8, the venue hosting the rodeo — which has undergone quite the facelift since June when the Idaho Press visited the property located on King Road in Kuna.
Instead of having berm seating as originally planned, the rodeo will now have bleacher seating, thanks to the Eagle Rodeo.
“They lost their spot at Avimor. So they’re looking for a new spot but it’s not like you can store this stuff. So they called us in July and said ‘You need bleachers and we need somewhere to put ‘em,’” Lini Chytka said. “Isn’t that great?”
The bleachers have capacity to hold 2,500 people. The Eagle Rodeo also donated its arena, back pens and ticket counter for the Kuna Rodeo.
But hosting a rodeo takes a lot more than just securing an arena and seating, as Kuna City Clerk Chris Engels and the Chytkas have found out this summer.
“There are a lot of details on the business end of a rodeo that I’m now understanding,” Engels said. “There are things that we have to add to make it the best environment for our guests.”
Lini Chytka said the whole undertaking has been the biggest thing she’ll ever do “guaranteed.”
“I didn’t realize how big until you’re in it and you’re looking around and thinking about all the little things,” she said.
There are so many little details that have come up while planning for Friday and Saturday’s events, like making sure there is enough ice for attendees, figuring out where to park everything, securing shaded areas and making sure the dirt is just right.
“We’ve had some of the top barrel racers in Idaho come and test it and with their guidance make changes,” Cody Chytka said.
If the dirt in the arena isn’t the right ratio of topsoil to sand, barrel racers and their horses can get injured. The Chytkas have filled the arena with 30 loads of a top soil and sand mixture.The organized madness of putting on the event isn’t limited to the venue, it extends to the clerk’s office.
“In here, it’s just a hive of activity,” Engels said.
From getting checks cut and permits in order to organizing the over 80 vendors who will be in attendance and making sure everyone has their rodeo t-shirts, Engels’ office has been nothing short of busy. Her favorite part of it all is when people come to pick up tickets.
Engels’ favorite part of it all is when people come in to purchase tickets.
“When people come to the counter to buy tickets that are local residents, and they’re just so excited. They’re just so happy,” Engels said. “That’s probably the best part is, there had been a want for this for a long time and it’s happening and the community definitely is responding with support and words of encouragement.”
Engels said as a city official, it’s very rewarding to see the residents she serves happy with the choices they are making. The city had sold approximately 1,600 tickets as of Monday.
Of course, even if a lot of tickets are sold, it doesn’t mean much if there aren’t athletes to perform. But the Kuna Rodeo doesn’t have to worry about this. In the rodeo’s very first year, it has become the largest entered-into rodeo of all the Idaho Cowboys Association rodeos in 2022. This fact, while exciting, doesn’t surprise Engels.
“Why wouldn’t we? We’re Kuna,” Engels said.
Barrel racing was the event that drew the most entries, according to Cody Chytka
All in all, both the Chytkas and Engels are hoping to present all who enter Koby J. Clark Memorial Arena this weekend with a fun and memorable experience.
“We’re just trying to really make sure that it’s great for everybody because we’re new,” Lini Chytka said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the stands packed and the people cheering and watching the athletes get their awards, and I’m looking forward to all of it.”
Cody Chytka said he’s also looking forward to seeing how they can improve the rodeo for next year.
“We know that it’s not going to be perfect, but we’re trying our best and bear with us,” Cody Chytka said. “We’re going to take the suggestions of what we need to improve on and all of that and make it better for the next time.”
The Kuna Rodeo will run Friday and Saturday. Vendors will be available starting at 2 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday, and live music will be playing. On Saturday, gates will open at 9 a.m. for a special needs rodeo with other events going on throughout the day. Pre-rodeo starts at 6:30 p.m. and the main performance at 7 p.m both days.