If you ask an out-of-towner what they know about Kansas City, you're likely to hear about one thing — world-class barbecue. A few might mention jazz or the Royal's recent compelling attempt at the World Series title, but there's no denying that Kansas City's national reputation is built on our history as a livestock hub. At the center of that history is one of my favorite local institutions, the American Royal.
A Royal History
From its humble beginnings as a Hereford cattle show held in a tent in the Kansas City Stockyards in 1899, the American Royal has grown to include horse shows, rodeos (both professional and youth), and the American Royal World Series of Barbecue®. Since the initial event in 1980, this barbecue competition has grown into the largest in the world, with over 500 teams spread over 54 acres competing against each other in multiple categories. Held every fall, the event draws competitors and visitors from around the country to Kansas City's historic Stockyards District.
The American Royal is a non-profit organization that, in addition to presenting cultural events, actively promotes American agriculture through education and competition. It reaches over 20,000 students each year through various programs and events. Just last year, the American Royal contributed over $1.4 million towards the future of agricultural education through a combination of scholarships, competitive prize monies, and educational awards. It is truly a cultural gem, a vital part of our regional heritage, and a great contributor towards a future that continues to value the spirit and practices of American agriculture.
A Family Connection
Every family has its' traditions and for the Wilkerson family, the American Royal is a big one. We have been involved for three generations now! I spent my childhood attending the Royal with my parents and grandparents, and now continue this tradition with my own family.
Both my sister Kim and I are American Royal Governors and love supporting the Royal in this way. We have the opportunity to attend many events each year, including the rodeo, horse shows, and the World Series of Barbecue. Becoming a Governor is a fantastic way to get involved with the American Royal community, support Kansas City's history and future, and get a taste of the western lifestyle. And with a Family Governorship, we're able to include our children in these events, carrying on a family tradition and hopefully raising future fourth-generation Governors!
Our family strongly believes in the mission and values of the American Royal. We are passionate about the need for agricultural education. As our society becomes more and more disconnected from the food that we eat, it is even more important to understand where our food comes from and to support the work of farmers and ranchers. We need to ensure that agriculture and agribusiness continue to draw educated and passionate students who will strengthen the field well into the future. The American Royal makes major contributions through its educational programs and outreach, and I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors and contribute to this important mission.
We're In the Rodeo Business
At Haas & Wilkerson, we not only attend the American Royal rodeo, we're in the rodeo business ourselves. Our Rodeo Division has been providing insurance solutions tailored to the unique needs of the rodeo, equine, and livestock industries for more than 30 years. Through our Specialty Program Insurors, we are able to proudly provide spectator event liability as well as accident coverage for contestants and volunteer workers. We are a full service agency handling all lines of coverage for rodeos including: property, inland marine, automobile, weather insurance/event cancellation, and animal mortality. By focusing on each client's potential exposures, we are able to satisfy their unique insurance needs.
Support the American Royal
If you haven't been to an event at the American Royal, I highly encourage you to check it out. It's an entertaining and educational experience that highlights an important aspect of Kansas City's history and future. With a wide variety of events (explore the events calendar here), there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you'd like to play a bigger part in the American Royal community, look into their Governors program for access to even more events and membership perks.
What's your favorite American Royal memory? Share by tweeting @haaswilkerson!
(Title images from kansascity.com and americanroyal.com)