These portraits show the Roberts family: the father, E.C., and three of his five children: Gerald, Margie and Ken. All three children were world champion rodeo riders. The display is located just outside the rodeo grounds in Strong City, Kansas, where E.C. started his first rodeo in 1937. There's been a rodeo in Strong City ever since. Held in early June, when the bluestem grass on this part of the prairie is its greenest, the rodeo is Chase County's biggest event of the year. People come from as far as Abilene and Wichita. On Saturday morning a parade starts at Cottonwood Falls, the county seat, and travels one mile north on Highway 57 to Strong City, ending at the rodeo grounds. After the rodeo, there's a dance at Ken Roberts' old place east of town. Wooden tables and folding chairs brought up from the church circle the outdoor concrete dance floor. Beer and barbecue is for sale. The year I was there, proceeds went to re-roof the town's collapsing opera house. The dance lasts well past midnight. One couple told me that after the dance they always drive the thirty miles home on back roads with their headlights off, guided only by moonlight.
Mike Sinclair is an architectural and fine art photographer living in Kansas City, Missouri. His photographs are frequently published in the Architectural Press and elsewhere, including the New York Times, Metropolis, Architectural Record and Interior Design. His work is in several public and private collections, including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, also in Kansas City. Sinclair was a 2009 First Edition Hot Shot and has participated in Mixtape and the Hey, Hot Shot! group exhibition at Jen Bekman Gallery.