The road to the National Finals Rodeo goes through Dodge City, and no one is more ready than local product Jesse James Kirby.

    The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's 2009 Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, Silver Series is making a stop at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo this week, and the 27-year-old Dodge native and saddle bronc-riding specialist said he has been working every day for the past few years and is looking forward to the chance to perform in his hometown.

    "It's a pretty cool feeling, knowing a lot of people will be there to back me up," Kirby said. "I hope to put on a good show for them."


    The road to the National Finals Rodeo goes through Dodge City, and no one is more ready than local product Jesse James Kirby.
    The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's 2009 Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, Silver Series is making a stop at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo this week, and the 27-year-old Dodge native and saddle bronc-riding specialist said he has been working every day for the past few years and is looking forward to the chance to perform in his hometown.
    "It's a pretty cool feeling, knowing a lot of people will be there to back me up," Kirby said. "I hope to put on a good show for them."
    Kirby, who now lives in Ashland, has performed in rodeos throughout the country, including Wyoming, Texas and just west in Garden City. On Monday, Kirby traveled to Hill City for the Jayhawker Roundup Rodeo and will head to Sidney, Iowa, for the state's championship rodeo Thursday before returning home Friday.
    "This is our job," Kirby said. "This is what we do."
    An all-around athlete at Dodge City High School, Kirby quickly hung up the football cleats and tossed aside the basketball upon graduation in exchange for a pair of boots and a cowboy hat.
    Kirby's father and grandfather introduced him to the cowboy culture at age 3, and since 17, Kirby has been riding professionally atop a bronco. With over a decade of experience and the home-crowd advantage, Kirby said he hopes to ride all the way to victory this weekend.
    "You just got to think about what you got to do," Kirby said. "I just got to try to stay calm and collected and when that gate opens, go to work."
    The rodeo begins with the PRCA steer-roping competition at 10 a.m. today and culminates with the championships Sunday as the top 12 contestants in each event go for the top money and the championship buckle.