As the San Angelo Stock Show Rodeo celebrates its 85th annual event, Operations Director Kermit Wendland said this year’s rodeo embarks a milestone that he never imagined happening when he began working as a volunteer with the rodeo in 1971.
“It was a very interesting time,” Wendland said. “Since then, the event has become much larger and a more coordinated event. Also, in my opinion, what has been the most dominant success is that we are now financially stable to give back to a lot of young people.”
After several years of volunteering, Wendland became a staff member in 1988. He said at that point, the overall goal of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo was to have a non-profit foundation and scholarship program. However, decades went by before either program could be established.
“To me one of the highlights that we’ve accomplished through all these years is to be able to help young people through our scholarship program,” Wendland said. “It’s important to get them set up for that education since they are our future.”
The Kermit Wendland Scholarship, which is valued at $16,000, was established in 2013 because of Wendland’s efforts in the success of the foundation.
According to Executive Director Justin Jonas the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Foundation donated over $1 million last year in scholarships to children and young adults across Texas. Jonas said the foundation was made possible through the various events and ticket sales over the years.
“There was a time when not many people came out to the rodeo,” Wendland said. “Now there are about 60,000 who attend with their families, and it can only grow from there.”
Wedland said he appreciates the people of San Angelo and surrounding areas.
“Even when the economy is under pressure, the city steps up to keep it going,” Wendland said. “We couldn’t do it without the support of the community.”