2023 Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo hosted at Phil Moore Park

The rodeo gives linemen the opportunity to showcase and hone their skills.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 5:37 PM EDT
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ALVATON, Ky. (WBKO) - The 2023 Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo is underway at Phil Moore Park in Alvaton, hosting over 100 competitors from electric cooperatives across the Commonwealth.

The rodeo gives linemen the opportunity to showcase and hone their skills. For those who have been in the industry for decades, it also serves as an essential recruitment tool.

Randy Meredith, director of safety and training for Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, says that showing the exciting aspects of the job helps draw in a younger generation that’s eager to serve their communities.

“I’ve encouraged many young people that this is a great industry. If you like public service, this has some great rewards,” Meredith said. “As a former lineman, I can speak from experience that it is very pleasing that when you flip the switch on the breaker after you’ve put up the wire, maybe changed out some broken poles, then you flip the switch and the lights come back on, life is back to normal.”

While the work is rewarding and lucrative, with starting rates around $25 per hour, Meredith stressed that a career as a lineman is not for the faint of heart. Long hours in inclement weather frequently wear on newer linemen, making recruitment a challenge.

“We’ve had times where I have to cut my way into work, literally cut my way into work, trees across the road with my own lights out to go put lights on,” Meredith said. “But there’s a reward in that, there’s a reward in knowing that your family, your community, you’re helping them.”

The rodeo includes timed events like a Transformer and Street Light Change, and a Mystery Event, allowing linemen to showcase their skills. For other events like the Hurt Man Rescue, the rodeo is an essential training practice.

“It is an annual qualification that lineworkers have to meet the standards that are set forth by OSHA,” Meredith said. “Basically, the goal is, in normal conditions, you can recognize that your coworker needs help, make a mayday call, get your tools on, get to the top of the pole, clear up the danger, and get him to the ground in four minutes or less.”

The rodeo continues tomorrow, with events beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Admission is free and all are welcome to watch the team events or ask current professionals about a career as a lineman.