When Jed Suhl was in high school, his father, Gary Suhl, encouraged him to get into sports in an effort to bring his grades up. Jed chose rodeo. That decision paved the way for what is now the family business: Suhls Rodeo, “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”
The idea for the rodeo, which is located in Kissimmee, was sparked after Gary built a practice pen for Jed and his sister. People would go out to watch them practice, so Gary thought, “Why not put on a show and see what happens?”
What started as an arena with capacity for 250 people in 1992 has grown to now include a stadium that can seat 800 people, a saloon with live entertainment and a family friendly show that features bull riding, trick riders, barrel racing and a calf scramble for the kids. The Suhl family has seen contestants begin their rodeo careers in their arena as kids and make a name for themselves in the big leagues.
“We’ve had contestants come through here that have made it all the way to the pinnacle of rodeo, and we’ve had a lot of animals make it to the PBR [Professional Bull Riders] and the National Finals Rodeo,” he says. “So it’s been like a proving ground for athletes and animals alike to get their start here and go on.”
Every Friday night between March and October, Jed and his family host “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” He opens the show by entering the arena on a long-horned steer that rides just like a horse, one of only eight in the U.S., as the colors are presented and the National Anthem is played. You may also see Jed and the other cowboys greeting rodeo guests in the saloon and introducing them to some of the animals featured in the show.
Jed has been in the rodeo business his entire adult life, from competing professionally across the U.S. to carrying on his father’s legacy locally, and his vision for Suhls Rodeo mimics that of the longest-running rodeo in the nation. Located in Cowtown, New Jersey, that rodeo sees thousands of people packing into the stands every Friday and Saturday night during their season.
“I don’t see any reason why that can’t happen here in Orlando,” he says.
When those Friday night lights come on and the cowboys entire the arena, the Suhl family is not only fulfilling their dreams of building the family business. They’re also keeping the area’s cowboy heritage alive while doing what they love to do.
Jed says, “If you can make a decent living doing something you love, that’s about as good as it gets.”