Local team penning events offer fun, fellowship

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Area residents do not have to sit at home with nothing to do.

The Southwest Missouri Team Penner's Association is open to the public and assembles once a month to compete in sortings, Southwest Missouri Team Penner's Association announcer Rick Klumpp, Richards, Mo., said.

Although members of the SWMTPA have been competing for a long time, the association was not formed until late 1989. The members of this group worked together and built their own arena in Deerfield, Mo., off of U.S. Highway 54, Klumpp said.

When the organization was first developed, the chosen competition was team pennings. A team penning involves several three-man teams and 24 head of cattle. Each team has one and a half minutes to sort out three head of cattle marked with a specific number called by the announcer. The cattle must be brought to the opposite end of the arena and placed inside a pen. This process must be completed in the allotted time without bringing any "trash" with the cattle. Trash is what the organization calls any cattle bearing a different number than the announcer called out, SWMTPA Secretary and Treasurer Teresa Klumpp said.

Now, the organization has team sorting competitions instead. The organization made the switch in events three years ago due to an increase cost in cattle. Sorting events do not require as many head of cattle as the penning events require. Also, the team penners have suffered a loss of participants as of late. Rick said he attributes the loss of members to the rising cost in gasoline in addition to the creation of similar organizations in small towns in the area.

The team sorting event involves a two-man team instead of the three-man team required for a penning. The sorting event requires 10 head of cattle be tagged with the numbers zero through nine and be placed into an arena. The team waits for the announcer to call a number between zero and nine. If the number called is five, the team must capture the cow labeled with the number five and place it in the pen at the other end of the arena.

The next cow the team must round up is the one labeled six. After the team catches the numbers seven, eight and nine cows, it must move on to the cow marked zero and continue on up until it reaches the number four cow. All the cows will then be in the pen at the other end of the arena. Each team has one-and-a-half minutes to complete this task. One member of the team operates the gate to the pen while the other member retrieves the chosen cattle. The team can rotate the jobs with each cattle catch, but this is not a requirement, Teresa said.

The association has youth teams in addition to the adult teams. While it is acceptable for an adult to partner with a youth in this event, the adult must man the gate the entire time. The youth is the only one who is allowed to gather the cattle, she said.

The association is a non-profit group which must obtain sponsors from area businesses.

Membership into the organization costs $20 per year. Membership in the group is not required in order to participate in an event. A non-member can purchase a day pass for $10. The purchase of this day pass is necessary for insurance purposes, Teresa said. The organization also charges an entry fee for the events. For $30, a team may participate in the events, she said.

All money collected by the team penners goes back into the program for its upkeep and operation. The association must pay cattle contractors for the use of the cattle during the event, and provide contestant prize money, Teresa said.

At the end of the team penning season, the organization schedules an appreciation dinner for sponsors, members and participants. At the dinner, the group conducts an auction of donated items, Teresa said.

For more information about the Southwest Missouri Team Penners Association, call Charles Comstock at (417) 927-3499 or Teresa Klumpp at (417) 321-0249.