Much of Cody Sosebee’s life has changed since the last time he was in Dodge City.
This past December, he worked the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time in his career. A couple of months ago, he became engaged to Tonya Baumgartner, and now he’s planning a wedding. At least he’s supposed to be helping with it, anyway.
But that won’t deter him from his return to the largest rodeo in western Kansas, the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1-Sunday, Aug. 5, at Roundup Arena.
That also includes the Xtreme Bulls, which takes place Tuesday, July 31.
"To me, Dodge City is the epitome of cowboy and rodeo," said Sosebee, a regular nominee for PRCA Clown of the Year and Comedy Act of the Year. "There are a lot of cowboys that come to that rodeo from the ranches and the farms. I feel like a real cowboy when you go to Dodge City."
He knows cowboy. He’s been one all his life. He may not wear the hat as often, but he understands the Western lifestyle and what rodeo means to a region. Before he began clowning, Sosebee rode bareback horses and has been around rodeo as long as he can remember.
That’s why his selection to work the barrel at the NFR meant so much to him.
"I am very humbled by it, because I automatically thought of the guys who had come before me who had never been selected to work the finals," he said. "There’s no way to describe it, because the guys voted for it. I can take that with me forever.
"It 10 times everything for me. It was 10 times more work than I thought. It was 10 times more fun than I thought. I just tried to soak it all up. I knew I was getting to do something special."
It’s something the Roundup Rodeo committee understands.
"We thoroughly enjoyed working with Cody when he was here a few years ago," said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the volunteer group that produces the annual rodeo. "He brings a certain flair to his comedy that was a hit for the fans that come to our rodeo. He’s just a true entertainer."
Much of that comes from his size: Sosebee is bigger than most rodeo clowns, and his raw athleticism shows through the extra cushions his body allows. His acts just accentuate it all into one funny package.
"Having the ability to laugh at myself is probably my biggest strength," he said. "I don’t take anything too serious. When I’m watching a comedian, the funniest thing I see is when they’re honestly open and having a good time."
Most importantly, he wants the fans to have a good time.
"I think I bring a sense of energy to an event, and I try to bring a new level of energy," he said. "I try to bring a high level of energy to your show. I think rodeo competes with other extreme sports, and I think we’re in a class of entertainment like those.
"When people come to an event, they want to see the level of high energy for the entire two hours they’re there, and that’s what I want to give them."