History of the International Lineman's Rodeo – J.L. Matthews Co., Inc.

History of the International Lineman's Rodeo

The International Lineman Rodeo is without a doubt one of the most influential forces behind lineman culture. Each year, thousands of people from all around the world, make their way to the humble town of Overland Park, Kansas to be a part of an event that has become a rallying point of this global trade. Lineworkers, tool manufacturers, small stores, gear makers, safety professionals, and countless faithful spectators come together to feel the heartbeat of a trade with deep roots and a culture of its own.

For hundreds of years, the cowhands of rural America have hosted local rodeo events to showcase and hone their skills while their local community looks on in awe. On the surface, herding livestock and electrical work appear like very different ways to make a living. However, the two professions are astoundingly similar. Athleticism is crucial to the day-to-day work of both jobs. Like working with large animals, climbing line-poles loaded with all the necessary gear is incredibly demanding. In addition, the height at which most work occurs is incredibly dangerous, the variability in working conditions are extreme, and the inherent danger of working with potentially fatal amounts of electricity add to the major risks.

 

In 1984, the visionary trio of Tom White, the President of TWSCO, Dale Warman, a supervisor for Kansas City Power and Light, and Charlie Young, a supervisor for Southwest Line Construction, noticed this and endeavored to create the first competitive event their industry had ever seen. Participants were asked to complete a series of standard linework tasks; scoring was determined by the time taken to complete each event, adherence to proper safety procedures, and following best practice guidelines. The first National Lineman Rodeo was a humble affair held in Manhattan, Kansas with only 12 teams of journeyman linemen competing. Each year the event was held, it grew at an explosive rate, as more and more crews sought to test their mettle against the best in the business. By its 7th year, the rodeo had nearly 250 competitors, with audience sizes growing at an even greater rate. The Lineman rodeo became an international event in 1993, with the inclusion of teams from Canada and England. Today, the International Lineman Rodeo hosts more than 1,000 competitors from countries across the globe.

In the 37 years since its creation, the rodeo has become more than just an industry competition. It’s become the community hub for an entire global linework industry. Today, it’s a meeting spot for professional development, a place to share new safety measures, technology, tools, and more. Each October, it drives the industry forward, while bringing us together at the same time.

It’s a humbling experience every time we attend. We’re incredibly proud to be a sponsor and help grow a gathering that does so much for our lineman community. Getting to connect and meet with those special few tasked with keeping the lights on for the rest of us is our favorite part. We can’t wait to see you all there. Stop by and see us at booth #403. See you in Kansas!


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