By Nicole Cormier
For Huskie Tools
Linemen put their skills to the test each day on the job, but they rarely get an opportunity to meet, demonstrate their skills and discuss the trade with other industry professionals outside of their region. That’s where the International Lineman’s Expo and Rodeo comes in.
Each year, top-notch linemen from all around the world come together to compete in various work-related challenges to showcase their talents. For its 36th year, the events will take place October 16-19, 2019 in Overland Park and Bonner Springs, Kansas.
The rodeo has grown exponentially since its inaugural event in 1983 which hosted 12 participating teams from the area. This year, more than 275 teams and 350 apprentices from around the globe are expected to compete.
“Participants and attendees come to the International Lineman’s Rodeo to compete for the honor of being called world champion,” said Kim Good, event director for the last 22 years.
The Main Event
The weekend will be full of activities to brush up on skills, check out the latest in lineman tools and fraternize with other linemen. But the main event is the rodeo, Good emphasized.
“The competition is what this whole event was based around from the beginning. It’s exciting for the competitors because they work hard to get to come to Kansas City. It’s kind of like the Super Bowl of lineman rodeos and just to get here to compete is exciting for these guys and gals – yes, we have a few women who compete,” Good said. “Many have company officials and their families that come out and support them as well. So, they have a huge support team and cheerleaders on the sidelines while they are competing. It creates great excitement!”
The rodeo grounds, located at the National Agriculture Center & Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, will host four-team competitions, the hurtman rescue, pole climb and two mystery events. The apprentice competition will have the same four events with the addition of a written test. A team consists of three participants: two climbing journeymen and a groundman. The apprentices will compete as individuals.
“The event is very well received each year. Linemen don’t get to travel and attend events [often] so it’s a great way for their companies to show support and appreciation for them,” Good said.
The rodeo isn’t just about friendly competition, there are other tangible benefits to both participants and supporters.
“Although the events at the rodeo are truly competitive, the long-term benefits are focused on improved safety, enhanced job skills, job knowledge, developing inter-company relationships, and improved teamwork and attitude for participants,” Good said. “So it’s a win-win for the company and the employees it supports by sending them to the rodeo.”
Make a Week of It
The rodeo serves as the anchor for the week, but by no means is it the only event worth attending. Safety is of paramount concern for rookie and veteran lineman alike. Attendees are invited to the Overland Park Convention Center on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 for a free safety and training conference to brush up on the latest information.
On the night prior to the rodeo – Friday, October 18, 2019 – linemen can get into the spirit with a hearty meal at the Friday Night BBQ & Trade Night. Lineman will enjoy Kansas City’s finest barbecue while trading company shirts with other attendees in this annual tradition.
“The trade night is always fun for those attendees that bring shirts, hats and other items to trade with each other. The competitors and their companies work all year coming up with what each hopes will be the best and most popular shirt for trade night,” Good said.
After the rodeo, the awards banquet will be held in the Overland Park Convention Center Exhibit Hall.
“The awards banquet, of course, is a crowd pleaser as this is where the competitors find out if they get to walk across the stage and get their recognition and large trophy, Everyone vies for top honors and a walk across the stage,” Good said.
An Unforgettable Experience
As the event grows and evolves each year, one thing stays the same, the commitment to the trade. This year’s event is on track to be the largest rodeo to date and will come with all the benefits it has been providing the community over the last 36 years.
“The rodeo is important to the lineman community because it’s a place where linemen can come and meet with their peers from other utilities and exchange ideas and work methods as well as have fun together celebrating their trade,” Good concluded.
See the full schedule here.