Craftsmen

Showcased Skills

Western Lifestyle Trade Craft Showcase winner

A unique contest showcases the artistry and craftsmanship skills of young people in the Western horse world.

Young talent in the Western horse world doesn’t just show up horseback in the performance pen or the rodeo arena. It also appears in the artistry and craftsmanship of custom-made items, from gear to jewelry.

That’s why Western Horseman partnered with the National High School Rodeo Association to sponsor the Western Lifestyle Trade Craft Showcase at the National High School Finals Rodeo. It celebrates the wide talent of NHSRA and NHSRA Junior High Division members outside the performance arena through a judged contest of handmade functional Western items.

Submissions for the contest, which is open to current NHSRA and Junior High Division members, should serve a purpose in the Western lifestyle. Examples include bits, tack, purses, jewelry, and belts. The 2021 overall champion, Preston Young of Oregon, entered a cribbage board coffee table. Built of wood from the tree house he played in growing up, the table features old fence posts for the legs and is decorated with family brands and a bulldogging image.

Reserve overall champion Audrey Wright of Nevada won a $900 scholarship for her handmade elk-hide clutch bag with a decorative turquoise concho.
Charlie Wright of Nevada, took top honors in the Fashion category, earning a $600 scholarship for this handcrafted silver pendant.

“We started [the Trade Craft Showcase] in 2019,” says Chanel Haworth, NHSRA vice president of marketing, “because there are so many contestants that have so many skills outside the arena.

“[NHSRA members] don’t have to be qualified for nationals; any member can submit a piece,” she continues. “They just have to submit it by the first day of the finals— this year that’s July 17.”

The 2021 contest featured two categories, functional and fashion. Western Horseman awarded scholarships to both category winners as well as an overall winner and overall reserve. Plans are in the works for additional categories (and scholarships) for the 2022 contest.

“It’s a core piece of Western Horseman’s foundation, to promote the cowboy spirit and the Western way of life,” says Dani Licklider, director of Western brands at Morris Communications, which owns Western Horseman. The publication has sponsored NHSRA for more than 20 years, and began sponsoring the Trade Craft Showcase in 2021.

Functional category winner Tashina Red Hawk of South Dakota earned a $600 scholarship for her beaded buffalo bladder bag. Traditionally, Plains Natives, traders and trappers used bladder bags to carry water, or items that needed to stay dry. The Lakota designs are beaded using traditional primary colors.

“We’re very interested in seeing the next generation succeed whether they want to be rodeo athletes or trainers and horsemen, or they want to go into the Western industry as a career—we want to help them achieve their goals,” Licklider says. “Wherever your niche is, there’s a place for you in this industry. And we want to help people find that. A key piece of what we do is educating and informing people about the opportunities available.”

Entries for the Trade Craft Showcase can be shipped directly to the NHSFR event facility (Cam Plex Event Center, Gillette, Wyoming), Haworth says, or sent with a member’s state NHSRA representative. Items must be on site at the NHSFR by July 17 to qualify.

Preston Young of Oregon took home the overall champion honors and an $1,800 scholarship for his handmade, cribbage board coffee table built of wood from a Juniper tree from Young’s home.

Pieces are judged at the NHSFR, but members don’t have to be competing there in other classes to participate, Haworth says again. In addition, entrants have the option of offering their work for sale at the NHSFR.

“High school rodeo is not just about building arena champions, but outside the arena champions as well,” Haworth says. “We want to build solid foundations in the kids and give them more opportunities.” Licklider agrees.

“This is only the beginning,” she says, “We are excited to help it grow and cultivate the talents of the next generation.” For more information on the Western Horseman presents the Western Lifestyle Trade Craft Showcase at the NHSFR, go to nhsra.com.

This article was originally published in the May 2022 issue of Western Horseman.

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