Super Kicker showcases full slate of events

Published 9:51 am Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Super Kicker “Light Em Up” Rodeo Championship Finals will include five different events, including bareback riding. The rodeo champion will be crowned on Sunday, May 4, at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds. (Submitted photo)

The Super Kicker “Light Em Up” Rodeo Championship Finals will include five different events, including bareback riding. The rodeo champion will be crowned on Sunday, May 4, at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds. (Submitted photo)

BERRIEN SPRINGS—If you’ve been to the Berrien County Youth Fair, you may have seen the bull-riding competition put on by the Super Kicker Rodeo. What you may not realize is that show only presents one-fifth of the excitement that Michigan’s largest rodeo company has to offer.

Usually, Super Kicker can only their present bull riding event at the Berrien County Youth Fair due to space constraints, but this time, the top qualifiers from the 2013 “Light Em Up,” rodeo tour will be competing in five different events: bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, team roping, and barrel racing.

“This will be the first rodeo of the year, and it will also be the biggest one of the year,” said Cathy Johnston, who owns the rodeo company with her husband, Joe. “We hold a series of rodeos each year, and this is the 3-day championship finals from last year’s competitions. This show is the best of the best!”

More than 85 contestants will be competing in the events that begin at 7 p.m. on May 2 and 3 and at 2 p.m. on May 4, and the rodeo champion will be crowned on Sunday.

The Johnston family has a long history of staging rodeos and breeding saddle buck horses.

“I come from a rodeo family,” Cathy explained. “My husband and I decided to start our own rodeo company in 1994 after we used my father’s ring to have a high school rodeo that my son competed in.”

Cathy and Joe’s two sons continue to be involved in the family business, helping out with various technological tasks as well as working on the 61-acre family farm.

“Our farm is 70 miles north of Grand Rapids in a little town called Paris,” Cathy said. “We have a bucking horse stud and about 11 mares. So, all of our bucking horse stock is born and raised here.”

The Johnstons have a total of 35 head of bucking horses as well as seven saddle horses, and 35 head of bucking bulls. Each year, they pick up a new load of bulls from Pat and Leah White’s farm in Delkab, Tx.

“Our only vacation that we ever have is when we go to pick up a load of bulls down in Texas,” Cathy said. “The Whites have had a wonderful breeding program down there for about 15 years.”

Once they pick up the bulls, the Johnstons train them to be ridden in the rodeos.

“We do all the training,” Cathy said. “People talk about all sorts of things that are done to the animals to make them buck, but that’s just not true. There’s nothing you can do to make an animal want to buck. There’s rebel animals, and there’s rebel humans, and these animals just don’t want to be rode. That’s why they buck.”

Along with caring for her family, providing for her animals is one of Cathy’s main priorities in life.

“We take very good care of our animals. It’s a blessing,” Cathy said. “I love my animals. It’s my job to take care of them and protect them. If I could feed them off a silver platter, I would!”

Sharing those animals with the riders and the spectators at the rodeos is another one of Cathy’s passions, and she sees the opportunity to do that as a great blessing.

“To sum us up, we’re blessed,” Cathy said. “Blessed. That’s the most accurate way I can describe our life. We’ve put a lot of rodeos on. We have a lot of good friends, and we have a lot of people who support us.”

It’s also very important to Cathy that the Super Kicker Rodeo provides an exciting and affordable evening of entertainment for families.

“My job is to entertain the rodeo fans, and that’s our main priority,” Cathy said. “I want to make sure folks get their money’s worth, and then some. So, we try to keep it reasonably priced.”

Tickets to the rodeo cost $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 4 to 10. Children age 3 and under will be admitted for free. Tickets can be purchased at Honor Credit Unions throughout Berrien County.

“It’s very family-oriented. Family—that’s what we’re all about. You can bring little kids or grandma, and no one will get offended by our funny men,” Cathy said. “We’re excited! It’s going to be a great show!”

Cathy also wants visitors to know that this will not be a boring, old-fashioned rodeo.

“This isn’t your grandpa’s rodeo! It’s entertainment,” Cathy said. “It’s exciting. There is that element of danger, just like at a car race. It’s a great outing!”

While this will be the first time that the Super Kicker Rodeo Championships will be held at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds, Cathy hopes that it will become an annual event.

“I’m hoping that this will be the new home for our championships,” Cathy said. “Getting this show together in just six weeks has been hard on me, but I’ve had a lot of help from the Fair Board, especially Mark Young. He’s been a god-send!”

More information about the Super Kicker Rodeo can be found at and on their Facebook page as well.