The Silver Spurs Rodeo is put on by hundreds of volunteers. And many of the volunteers have dedicated hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of hours of time to it. The event goes back several generations, so the rodeo is like the family business, but the business returns are prize money awarded to cowboys and cowgirls and the charitable contributions made to local organizations.
The area’s population has changed over the years, but Osceola County’s legacy of agriculture and rodeo has remained very much alive thanks to the efforts of those volunteers.
Ashley Fluke is the chair of the Quadrille Team, the square-dance-on-horseback that performs at each rodeo. She has been riding in the Quadrille for years.
“It’s a passion of mine so I want to keep it going,” she said.
Showing she wears a lot of hats at the rodeo, Fluke’s also the co-chair with Kay Whaley of the Parade committee — that event came back last year in St. Cloud and again this year, and the return of the parade has been praised by locals and rodeo fans from around Osceola County.
“After the Quadrille, I use to run up to the concessions stand, my mother (Martha Booth) was the chair of the concessions, so I started helping out there when I was a kid. And then I’d run out to wherever else I was needed. “I was raised in the concessions stand when I wasn’t on the back of a horse.”
Laura Kessler is also part of the local “rodeo family”. She has come to be known by some as the “Voice of the Silver Spurs”, including very often singing the National Anthem to thousands in the Silver Spurs Arena. Her primary mission these days is to work with rodeo queens to promote the Silver Spurs’ local rodeo traditions. She’s a national director for Miss Rodeo Florida. And, she’s also a lifetime volunteer who’s put in hours and hours of community-based service for the rodeo.
“There’s a level of tradition and history where I grew up that I never want to see us lose,” Kessler said. “I grew up selling popcorn and soda. My family managed the concessions before Ashley’s family, so we’ve become a huge rodeo family. It doesn’t feel right to be anywhere but here supporting our community and our kids in the sport.”
Kessler mentioned the history, but Fluke said she sees the future in the younger riders in the Quadrille and Junior Quadrille.
“The kids in our Quadrille, they are the future of the organization,” she said. “But it’s a passion we have. You see the impact it has on the community. It’s so cool how big it’s gotten from the start back in the ’40s with a few cattlemen, and now you see the huge crowd and how diverse it is.”
“It’s about giving back. There’s a passion about growing up in an all-volunteer organization.”
Putting on an impressive weekend of performances is a high-pressure prospect.
“I think the nerves hit you Friday, the bigger crowds get you going. Once it gets started … like we did with the parade, now we’re rolling,” Fluke said.
“Friday night you’re the most nervous, Saturday night you’re excited, Sunday, it’s a laid back day because you see the finish line … well, for this rodeo at least. Pretty soon we’ll start working on the summer rodeo and next year.”
The Silver Spurs Rodeo continues today at 2pm with it’s final addition of its February rodeo. Come early as another large crowd is expected… and it’s an opportunity to be wowed by Ashley Fluke’s Quadrille team and Laura Kessler’s beautiful singing of the National anthem! This is exactly what Positively Osceola means when we say, making a Positive Difference in Osceola County!