By Audra Arendall - Publicity Chairperson
The first week of June 2015 has been one that Rhonda Powell will always remember. She was formally introduced as the Official Hostess of the 85th Texas Cowboy Reunion, and she welcomed two grandchildren into her family.
A tradition dating back to the beginning of the Texas Cowboy Reunion in 1930, a local woman is selected to help welcome the visitors at the event and also feed the Sponsors (barrel racers) that enter the TCR. In the early years, the Hostess did everything from making room and board arrangements for the girls to hosting a formal ball and breakfast. Nowadays, since most barrel racers are riding in a different rodeo every day of the summer and don't normally stay through the four days, the Hostess and the Sponsor will fix a nice lunch for the girls riding during slack. Throughout the month of June, the Hostess will be honored at various parties, which will keep her schedule extremely busy. She will also be introduced at each rodeo performance.
There is no doubt that Powell is a well deserving woman to represent Stamford as Hostess during the 85th Texas Cowboy Reunion. She is the daughter of Jim and Ona Mae Harris (both deceased in 2014) and was raised on a farm in Colorado City with her four sisters and one brother. In 1974 she married Mike Powell, who was raised in Stamford all of his life. Together they have two children Bryan and Layla Powell who both graduated from Stamford High School. Tragically, at the young age of 30 her son Bryan was killed in a car wreck in 2006. Her daughter Layla is married to Chris Powers and they just recently adopted two children: Taylor, who is ten, and Michael, who is eight. Rhonda is very excited to have her grandchildren join her at the rodeo.
Powell grew up in a small town similar to Stamford and was around livestock and horses all of her life. She said, "My dad worked shift work so after school I would ride my horse to the pasture down the road to water and feed the cattle." On his days off she said, "My dad and I would ride horses together, we would go to calf ropings and he would take his quarter horse. We would always go to the local rodeo and be in the parade. That was such a fun and treasured time in my life!"
Most people in Stamford know Rhonda as the lady from the post office. She started working at the post office in Stamford as a city mail carrier in 1990, and now works at the window inside at the post office. She said, "I had a customer on the window a few years ago that asked me, 'Why do you live here?' It wasn't anyone that I knew. I talk to a lot of people every day at work, which I really enjoy. Working the window is my favorite part of my job. I looked at him and said, 'Stamford is a good location and close to Abilene, but I love living here because of the people in this town and community. I have lived here a long time, and it is my home.'"
Rhonda has always helped at the various hostess parties each year because many of her friends have been hostesses and says, "It is an honor to be chosen as the 85th Texas Cowboy Reunion Hostess!"