Dodge City Roundup is more than a local rodeo with regional appeal.

It’s a world-class championship that will feature nearly 1,000 contestants all vying for their share of the large purse available.

"We are very pleased to have upgraded our status to a Wrangler Gold Tour rodeo, which means we’re offering more of a purse than ever before," said Dr. R.C. Trotter, president of Roundup, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Aug. 6, at Roundup Arena; it also includes A Whole Lotta Bull, which features the Xtreme Bulls Tour and Bullfighters Only freestyle bullfighting on Tuesday, Aug. 1. "We want our fans to see the best rodeo they can possibly see each year, so we want to have the best contestants. That’s why we put up $20,000 in committee purse in every event, and that’s why we have the best livestock."

It’s working. Take Chet Johnson, who won the saddle bronc riding championship in Dodge City a year ago. 

"Dodge City is one of those bucket-list type of rodeos, where everyone wants to win it," said Johnson, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Gillette, Wyo. "It’s got such a history to it, and it’s an icon in the sport. To put that notch on your belt is a huge one."

Roundup will feature preliminary go-rounds Wednesday-Saturday, with the top 12 contestants in each event advancing to Sunday’s championship round. The final night will be a who’s who in rodeo.

"A lot of guys get nervous when they make the short round here, because this is probably the rankest short round you’ll ever see," said Tim O’Connell, the reigning bareback riding world champion from Zwingle, Iowa, who won the Roundup crown last year en route to his first gold buckle.

"This is a very prestigious rodeo. In the three years that I’ve been here, they break arena records all the time. If you want to be a rank horse rider and be in the 90s, this is the place to be."

The fans that experience Roundup feel the same way, and there will be a ton of excitement through all six nights of the rodeo. The rodeo is the crown jewel of a community celebration, Dodge City Days.

"To me, this is more than just a rodeo," Trotter said. "That’s why we want to reach out to others around us, with our red-white-and-blue Friday and our Tough Enough to Wear Pink night on Saturday. We will honor first-responders on Friday and help raise money and awareness for Circle of Hope.

"Because we have such a great rodeo with amazing partners, we are able to do a lot of great things. It’s one of the things that makes me most proud of being part of Roundup Rodeo."