From Drag To The Arena
Labor Day weekend will bring local and national contestants to Cleveland, Mo., for the annual Missouri Gay Rodeo Show-Me State Rodeo. Volunteers are the ones who make the event possible, and Angela Parker will be there, keeping them organized.
Parker, who also performs around town in her drag king persona of Shane Lee, is the volunteer coordinator for this year’s event. Her challenge is to organize the people involved in providing support for the rodeo contestants and for the hundreds of people in the audience on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2-3. Parker supervises 10-15 volunteers at most times during the rodeo.
“I’m the person behind the scenes making the rodeo happen,” she said. “I’ve actually taken from Thursday till Tuesday off my regular job. I will have my camper out there Thursday morning. I camp out there the entire weekend.”
Parker said she got involved in the rodeo through the royalty contest back in 2011. She was Mr. Gay Rodeo at the Show-Me State Rodeo and went on to take first place at the International Gay Rodeo Association level in 2012, she said.
Parker was born in Manhattan, Kansas, and moved to Kansas City in 1995. She lives with her wife, Chirl. Her regular drag performances often take place during shows by the drag king known as Buttwiser at Sidekicks bar in Kansas City.
“Normally I’m out there [at the rodeo] Wednesday, but I’m doing the Buttwiser’s Bash kickoff show that night to kick off our weekend,” she said.
Her work for the rodeo, she said, begins the month before the event. During the rest of the year, she said, she tries to help with fundraising and getting more people involved with MGRA.
To prepare for the rodeo, she said, “I’ve got to get security fences up for parking, banners hung inside the arena, make sure the horse stalls are cleaned out, [get] the vendor tables set up and [get] the contestant and arena crew areas set up.”
Once the rodeo starts, she said, her job is to take care of the contestants, providing them food, water and any other needs.
Parker’s volunteers also work with vendors at the rodeo, in the dining area and on other cleanup tasks. She will have a booth, too, selling paracord bracelets and other merchandise that she creates.
“We’ve always got people walking around, monitoring, and making sure everything is going OK.”
Although she supervises the volunteers, Parker said, she doesn’t supervise the arena crews.
“A lot of the arena crew and chute crews travel together to the different rodeos,” she said. “They work so well together. We get people to our rodeo from Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and other states. I’m the one that makes sure they have cold water to drink and stuff like that.”
Parker said they have a trailer full of equipment for the pole and barrel racing, pellets for the buckets, and ropes and more that she needs to unload and get set up. They keep a tub of men’s underwear for the goat-dressing competition, she said.
If you’d like to volunteer this year, Parker said, there’s still time. She likes to keep volunteers to four-hour shifts, and they get to attend the rodeo for free. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parker said the rodeo people really stick together. “That’s one thing I love about the rodeo. From day one, they have made me feel like family.”