Abilene Native Gets To Work Hometown Rodeo

An Abilene resident will fulfill his dream at the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo.

Ever since he was a little boy, Ethan McDonald has been coming to the rodeo in Abilene every summer. And now that he is a bullfighter, he gets to work it.

McDonald, age 25, has been hired as one of two bullfighters for the 68th annual Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo, which takes place July 30-August 2.

He’s dreamed of this since he was little. “Every summer, no matter what, we’d go to that rodeo. (Two-time all-around world champion) Gerald Roberts (an Abilene resident) always had a get-together party at his house, and all the cowboys would go. I remember being at his house and seeing all these world champions. Abilene’s rodeo was a cool deal and I always enjoyed going to it.”

Ethan, the son of John and Mary McDonald, grew up around bucking bulls and got his start as a bullfighter when bull riders in practice sessions at his house needed one. After a year of college football at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, and another year at Ft. Hays (Kan.) State University, he decided to give it a try. He helped with the bullfighting at practice rodeos at college, where the college rodeo coach, Bronc Rumford, encouraged him to get his Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association card.

Since then, he’s gained more experience and worked more events, including the San Angelo (Texas) rodeo, the Nampa, Idaho rodeo, the Kansas High School Finals Rodeo, college rodeos in Ft. Hays, Colby, and Manhattan, and other rodeos and bull ridings.

Ethan graduated from Ft. Hays in 2011 with an animal science degree and went straight to bullfighting. His parents own a portable corral business, so he is able to work trade shows and make deliveries during the week, and rodeo on the weekend.

And he can’t wait to work the Abilene rodeo. He compares high school football to working his home rodeo. “It’s fun, in high school, to play in front of your home crowd. The Abilene rodeo is in my backyard, and to be able to fight bulls in front of friends, will be cool.”

Ethan has two older sisters, Cassy Wilson, who lives in Abilene, and Heather Dallas, who lives in San Angelo, Texas, and a niece and two nephews.

The Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo begins at 7:30 pm each night, the nights of July 30-August 2. Tickets are $10 in advance for adults and $12 at the gate. For kids ages six to twelve, tickets are $6. Kids five and under are free. For more information, call the fair office at 785-263-4570 or visit the rodeo’s website at WildBillHickokRodeo.com. To purchase tickets online, visit the fair’s website at CKFF.net.

Story by: Ruth Nicolaus