For nearly three decades, the Suhl last name has been synonymous with the Kissimmee Sports Arena and the weekly rodeo held there. It all started with the arena that Mr. Gary Suhl built for his son, Jed, and daughter, Calee, to practice in. As the arena began being regularly used by both his kids and others, he noticed a growing number of people showed up to watch the practices, which led to Mr. Gary’s next idea in 1992: charging admission. This idea lead to the culmination of what became an Osceola County tradition for young rodeo contestants, locals, and tourists alike, giving everyone something to do on any given Friday evening.
The Kissimmee Sports Arena (which has now been renamed Suhl’s Rodeo) has seen quite a bit of growth and changes in the past 27 years, starting off with seating for 200 people and now can accommodate 800 people in the stands as well as having a 2,000 square foot saloon. Several years back, the county claimed eminent domain on the property, stating that they needed to put a road right through where the arena sat, and that the arena would need to be moved to the east. In the midst of the Suhl family rebuilding the arena, Mr. Gary passed away. His son Jed shared the same passion he did when it came to providing a place in Osceola County for young people to consistently practice, perform, and improve their skills. Jed, with the support of his wife, Jody, and their daughter Morgan, decided to carry on the legacy his father began and continue being in the rodeo business. Jed competed in the saddle bronc riding and steer wrestling in high school, and was the 1992 Florida High School Rodeo Association Champion Steer Wrestler, which qualified him to go compete at the National High School Rodeo Finals that year in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He leases the property from his mother, Mrs. Diane Suhl. “It’s a passion of mine,” he stated, “I’m looking forward to helping the next generation of Isaac Diaz’s, Kaley Bass’s, and Caleb Sanderson’s”. Isaac Diaz is a professional saddle bronc rider from South Florida who has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo six times; Kaley Bass is a professional barrel racer from Kissimmee who has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times; and Caleb Sanderson is a professional bull rider from Kissimmee who has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo once and rode in the PBR. Aside from being native Floridians, these three people have another thing in common: they all started off at the Kissimmee Sports Arena at some point, and ended up finishing as one of the top fifteen contestants in the world in their event to qualify for what is known as the “Super Bowl of Rodeo”. In addition to them, many other local kids have climbed through the ranks of junior rodeo and high school rodeo, competing in and practicing at the Kissimmee Sports Arena, and then went on to rodeo successfully at the professional level.
Contestants are not the only people who utilize the Suhl’s Rodeo as a building block to prepare them for the next level. Shoat Monts De Oca got his start as a pickup man there and is now a pickup man for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Ricky Booth started his career as a rodeo announcer there as well, and recently received his card to be an announcer within the PRCA as well. The PRCA is the oldest and largest rodeo sanctioning association in the world. The Suhl’s Rodeo is also a place where rodeo stock can be brought and given the chance to prove themselves worthy of advancing to the professional level. It is a proving ground for both animals and athletes alike.
As of right now, the Suhl’s Rodeo is happening every Friday from March to October at 8pm, except for weekends during the Silver Spurs Rodeo or the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo. The rodeos mainly consist of barrel racing, bronc riding, and bull riding. As the rodeo begins to wrap up (usually at about 9:30), the saloon opens up and houses a bar, band, and a dance floor. World famous trick roper Trevor Dreher also performs each Friday-he even once performed for the President! So far there have been 8 rodeos held since Jed and his family got everything up and running again, with the crowd increasing in number each weekend. “We’ve sent some champions out west, and I’m looking forward to continuing that legacy and giving kids a place to compete” said Jed.
Don’t miss out on the action! For more information regarding times, tickets, or the location of “The Greatest Show on Dirt”, you can visit www.suhlsrodeo.com. Not only will you be watching the most exciting sports event known to man, you will also be watching the upcoming stars and next generation of the sport of rodeo. You can also find additional information on booking the venue for your next private event on their website.
In addition to producing the weekly Suhl’s Rodeo, Jed provides trail riding and recently began Party Ponies Orlando, which is a pony party with a twist: there is a professional hairdresser there to do the little girls hair and makeup prior to the pony party. For more information, you can visit www.horseridingorlando.com and www.partyponiesorlando.com.