DODGE CITY, Kan. – What began more than three decades ago in the southwest Plains of Nebraska continues this weekend at Dodge City Roundup Arena.
Garrett and Justen Nokes were raised on rodeo near McCook, Neb. They’ve competed together and against one another all their lives, and both bring a championship pedigree to the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association Finals.
“It’s awesome to be able to compete alongside your brother; competing against him is even more fun,” said Garrett Nokes, who roped and tied his calf in 8.8 seconds to win the second round in tie-down roping Saturday night. “It’s really fun to see him winning. It’s a family affair for us. Our parents are up in the stands, and we have a bunch of family and friends up there, too.
“We’re 40 years old, and they’re still following us.”
Justen Nokes downed his steer in 4.7 seconds to share the round-winning time with Gary Collins of Sharon Springs, Kan. Later that night, the Brothers Nokes celebrated by each earning a go-round trophy buckle for their work inside the arena.
Now they have some clean-up work to do during Sunday’s third round to see if they can each win the year-end championships. It won’t be easy for either cowboy, though, as others are higher in the standings heading into the final day of the season. For example, Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, owns just a $100 lead over Justen Nokes in the bulldogging standings, but Devers has the lead in the average, which will pay out a considerable bonus when the third round ends.
“Cody has done a great job all year,” said Justen Nokes, who failed to score a time in the opening round and likely won’t collect a check in the average. “It’s going to come down to one steer tomorrow, and I’m going to have to put the heat on him. It’s going to be a fun third round, and whoever does better wins.”
Garrett Nokes entered the finale fifth in the year-end standings, about $1,800 behind leader Nick Becker of Garden City, Kan. He knows he is a long-shot to earn another KPRA championship.
“I’m just trying to make runs without making mistakes, win as much money as I can and go home with money in my pocket,” he said. “If the (year-end trophy) saddle falls my way, then that’s awesome.”
He knows what it means to win. Over his career, he’s held many titles, including nearly a dozen KPRA titles.
“I’ve had a title in every one of the last three decades,” Garrett Nokes said. “I won my first KPRA championship in 1995 in steer wrestling and the all-around; I did it in the 2000s, and now I’m doing it in the teens.”
Both men are coaching intercollegiate programs – Justen at Hastings (Neb.) College and Garrett at Mid-Plains (Neb.) Community College. They are passing along their knowledge of the game and their passion for it to another generation, including those that are part of the KPRA finale in Dodge City.
“Dodge City Roundup is doing an outstanding job hosting this finals,” Garrett Nokes said. “This is the most professionally run amateur finals that I’ve ever been to. This is an outstanding facility, they’ve brought in amazing stock and they’re doing their best to put it on for us. It’s phenomenal for us to have this deal here.”
Kansas Press Association Finals
Dodge City, Kan.
Bareback riding: 1. Jake Stemo, 82 points, $490; 2. Wesley Cole, 77, $368; 3. DillonTiede, 74, $245; 4. Logan Patterson, 72, $123.
Steer wrestling: 1. (tie) Justen Nokes and Gary Collins, 4.7 seconds, $1,006 each; 3. Brandon Volker, 5.2, $575; 4. Cody Devers, 5.3, $288.
Ranch bronc riding: 1. Reid Green, 79 points, $700; 2. Weston Price, 75, $525; 3. Clay Vigil, 72, $350; 4. Monte Winkler, 70, $175.
Tie-down roping: 1. Garrett Nokes, 8.8 seconds, $952; 2. (tie) Cody Rieker and Bryce Loyd, 9.5, $595 each; 4. Kyle Winslow, 9.7, $238.
Breakaway roping: 1. (tie) Shelby Hinkle, Justice Green and Teddi Winslow, 2.7 seconds, $1,072 each; 4. Ashley Sherman, 3.1, $357.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Shane Hand, 81, $703; 2. Wyatt Barstow, 78, $527; 3. (tie) Tex Benfer and Ben Engelman, 76, $264 each.
Open team roping: 1. Brian Dunning/Derrick Jantzen, 5.5 seconds, $1,068; 2. Kyle Winslow/Kingston Chang, 6.2, $801; 3. Nick Becker/Toby Mentzer, 6.7, $534; 4. Ben Johnsrud/Nate Johnsrud, 7.4, $267.
40-40 team roping: 1. Brian Padilla/Mike Weir, 6.7 seconds, $941; 2. Beau Blue/Ben Blue, 7.3, $706; 3. Justin Crist/Brian Crist, 7.6, $471; 4. Gene Jett/Tom Peterson, 10.4, $235.
Barrel racing: 1. Lorie Diodosio, 17.30 seconds, $1,356; 2. Diane Martin, 17.49, $1,017; 3. Amy Prather, 17.53, $678; 4. Ellie Kravig, 17.57, $339.
Bull riding: 1. Jacob Marcel, 86 points, $961; 2. Colton Lewis, 81, $721; 3. Kane Larsen, 74, $480; 4. Dakota Cator, 72, $240.
If you want to catch an NFR-like performance this weekend, tune in to ProRodeoLive.com at 7 p.m. central as he calls the action from the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo in Stephenville, Texas. It will be a showcase of great talent with Wrangler National Finals Rodeo experience, including the animals from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.
Just looking at the draw, you will hear Steve Kenyon talk about three-time NFR qualifier Casey Colletti as he matches moves with two-time horse of the year Dirty Jacket. Jake Brown will have a rematch with Betty Boop, which bucked him off during the first round of the NFR last year.
Winn Ratliff will try his hand with Painted River, which helped Brown to the sixth-round title last December, while Richmond Champion will be matched with Hometown Girl – that horse guided R.C. Landingham to the Lovington title last month. Jessy Davis is matched with First Kiss, while Mason Clements – who is on the NFR bubble with Champion – will try his hand on Sadie’s Gal.
In bronc riding, Cody DeMoss has veteran horse Sweet Maria, while Tyrel Larsen will try to close out his season on Cool Runnings.
Bull rider Garrett Smith, who is heading to the NFR for the first time in his young career, will try to hang on to Hermes.
Those are just a few of the NFR-NFR match-ups, but it is a performance loaded with exceptional talent. It should be an amazing show, and Kenyon will keep you in the middle of it all the way through.
DODGE CITY, Kan. – Wild horses are part legend, part fascination and part of reliving the Old West.
They’re also the focal point for Reid Green, a 38-year-old cowboy from Laverne, Okla. He is competing in both saddle bronc riding and ranch bronc riding at the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association Finals this weekend at Roundup Arena.
On Friday night, he posted a 74-point ride in ranch bronc riding to win the opening go-round and extend his lead in the KPRA standings.
“It’d be pretty good to do well in the go-rounds,” said Green, who owns a lead of more than $2,000 over the No. 2 man in the standings, Riggen Herbert of Scott City, Kan. “I just need to go win the rounds and have fun doing it.”
That’s exactly how Green sees his opportunity to ride bucking horses. He grew up on a ranch near Laverne and still has a small ranch there, but he has a full time job pumping wells in the oil fields.
“I grew up ranching, and I had to go get a real job,” he said with a laugh, knowing full well the labor that goes into ranch work. “We have a small ranch, but it’s just enough to be a hobby ranch.
“All we do is make money in the oil field, then go back to riding horses and having fun. I have my kids involved in it, so that’s what it’s about.”
He’s done pretty well at it. He won the KPRA ranch bronc riding title a year ago and has a strong chance to repeat. While he won the opening round in that event, he didn’t fare so well in the other; he was bucked off at about the 4-second mark.
There are several differences between the two events; ranch bronc riding features a traditional saddle, while he uses a specialized saddle in traditional rodeo saddle bronc riding that has no saddle horn and features free-swinging stirrups that allow for a classic spur stroke. He also can use two hands in ranch bronc riding, while he must avoid touching the animal, himself or his equipment with a free hand in the other.
“I like saddle bronc riding; it’s more of a challenge,” Green said. “I’m still struggling with it. I’d like to get better at it.
“I wasn’t riding saddle broncs last year. That horse I had tonight is probably my 10th or 11th horse I’ve ever been on in the saddle bronc riding.”
Just qualifying for the KPRA Finals in both events is a testament to Green, but he knows he’s just a beginner in saddle bronc riding.
“I just get on as many horses as I can,” he said. “Every now and again I can get on a practice horse. I don’t have a lot of time to do that, so I just practice on the (stationary) spur board and on the ground.”
Now his focus is strictly on clinching the ranch bronc riding championship this weekend in Dodge City’s Roundup Arena.
“Dodge City has been a great home, really accommodating,” Green said. “It’s a really good rodeo.”
Kansas Press Association Finals
Dodge City, Kan.
Bareback riding: 1. Wesley Cole, 80 points, $490; 2. Jake Stemo, 74, $368; 3. (tie) Logan Patterson and Branden Ferguson, 73, $184 each.
Steer wrestling: 1. Dan Barner, 4.5 seconds, $1,150; 2. Brandon Volker, 4.7, $863; 3. (tie) Dru Melvin and Cody Devers, $431 each.
Ranch bronc riding: 1. Reid Green, 74 points, $700; 2. Monte Winkler, 71, $525; 3. (tie) Brayden Putter and Weston Rice, 66, $262 each
Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Tyler Garten and Kyle Belew, 9.1 seconds, $833 each; 3. Joe Macoubrie, 9.4, $475; 4. Nick Becker, 10.2, $238.
Breakaway roping: 1. Jamie Frisch, 2.7 seconds, $1,430; 2. (tie) Dara Belew and Ginalee Tierney, 3.2, $894.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Shane Hand, 76 points, $703; 2. (tie) Wyatt Barstow and Ben Engleman, 74, $439 each; 4. (tie) Drew Spencer and Zane Smith, 71, $88 each.
Open team roping: 1. Brett Christensen/DawsonMcMaster, 5.7 seconds, $1,068; 2. Ben Johnsrud/Nate Johnsrud, 6.0, $801; 3. Brian Dunning/Derrick Jantzen, 6.2, $534; 4. Jake Pancost/Chase Boekhaus, 6.3, $267.
40-40 team roping: 1. Jack Hunter/Scott Vanderhamm, 7.0 seconds, $941; 2. Brian Padilla/Mike Weir, 7.2, $706; 3. John Reed/Ralph Berry, 7.4, $471; 4. Justin Crist/Brian Crist, 7.5, $235.
Barrel racing: 1. Ellie Kravig, 17.46 seconds, $1,356; 2. Ashlyn Moeder, 17.60, $1,017; 3. Lorie Diodosio, 17.73, $678’ 4. Katie Jolly, 17.76, $339.
Bull riding: 1. Colter White, 85 points, $1,441; 2. Jacob Marcell, 83, $961; no other qualified rides.
SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Lecile Harris has his hands in everything involved in the Rodeo of the Mid-South.
He organizes every aspect of the show, and he does it because he loves this event, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Landers Center in Southaven. But when the weekend comes, he hands the reins over to the crew from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.
“I have so much confidence in Pete Carr and his company that once they drive up and once the crew goes to work, I don’t have to worry about that part of the rodeo,” said Harris, a longtime rodeo clown that has been named PRCA Clown of the Year four times; he also is enshrined in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
“I don’t have to worry about the production of the rodeo once. I never have to worry about his crew, and I don’t have to worry about the stock. He’s got some of the best livestock in rodeo. I know when Pete and his crew get here, it’s going to be first class and everything’s going to be done right.”
That is a winning formula for rodeo fans and the cowboys and cowgirls who make a living in the sport.
A key ingredient will be the Carr animals. Each of the past two season, no other stock contractor in the PRCA has had more animals selected to the year-end championship, which takes place in December in Las Vegas.
After years apart, the rodeo returned to be in conjunction with the Mid-South Fair. It’s the perfect fit for fairgoers and rodeo fans, who can enjoy all the family fun that comes together in a spectacular weekend.
“One of the things that makes our rodeo special is the fact that this year its back with the fair,” Harris said. “I moved the dates of the rodeo from April back to September so it could be with the fair.
“It’s indoors at one of the most up-to-date venues. It’s a beautiful coliseum, and it’s got all the sound, electronics and light show to help make for great production of the rodeo.”
The Carr team understands production. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons the firm has been nominated for ProRodeo Stock Contractor of the Year five straight times and why many consider Carr the top contractor in the game.
It all will be on display in two days of a magical experience called the Rodeo of the Mid-South.
DUNCAN, Okla. – Frank Morton is trying to do something that nobody else has done in a long time.
Since 2012, Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas, has dominated bareback riding in the Prairie Circuit. He’s won four straight year-end championships and owns five overall – he also earned the title in 2006. But Morton is poised to change that in 2016; he will have the opportunity to close out the season at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20-Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
Morton owns a $5,100 lead over Riddle heading into the finale; that means Riddle will be hard-pressed to earn enough over the three rounds in Duncan to retain his spot atop the year-end standings.
Morton has earned more than $15,000 this season at rodeos primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, and he will arrive in Duncan as the No. 1 man in the bareback riding standings.
“I just had a good year,” said Morton, 28, of Wright, Kan. “I was fortunate to get on some good horses and was able to capitalize on it.
“There wasn’t just one big rodeo that won that much; I just had several of them put together.”
It added up to the Kansas cowboy’s best season so far, and now he returns to the circuit finale for the fourth time.
“I think probably the biggest change I’ve had this year is more confidence,” he said. “I think that’s been a big game-changer for me. I’ve been looking more at what I do right. Even if I get bucked off, pick something out that you did right.”
That positive mindset has put him in the right position as he prepares for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals.
“At the beginning of the summer, my goal was to win the year-end and the average at the finals,” Morton said. “I think I have a chance to do both.”
While Morton is in control of the bareback riding year-end title, there are some outstanding races that will come down to the final three days of the season inside Stephens County Arena, including the all-around race. Trell Etbauer holds a lead of less than $3,000 over his younger brother, Shade.
Trell Etbauer – who has won four all-around crowns, including the last two – will wrestle steers and compete in tie-down roping; Shade Etbauer will need to make up ground in saddle bronc riding, an event in which he owns a $4,400 lead. Trell Etbauer also leads the tie-down roping standings by more than $2,500 over the Nos. 2 and 3 cowboys, Bryson Sechrist and reigning champion Cody Quaney, respectively.
The closest race is in barrel racing, where Emily Miller owns a $510 lead over Mary Burger, the No. 1 cowgirl in the world standings and the reigning circuit finals champion. Miller has been solid all season, but Burger has excelled at the rodeos in which she’s competed.
Steer wrestler J.D. Struxness has been fairly dominant in his discipline, but hometown cowboy Shane Frey of Duncan is within $2,500.
Reigning heading champion Coleman Proctor and his partner, Billy Jack Saebens, have earned more than $15,000 apiece in the circuit and sit atop the standings. Jesse Stipes is within $2,000 of Proctor, while Buddy Hawkins and Gage Williams are within range of Saebens.
Two-time reigning bull riding world champion Sage Kimzey has pocketed $14,717 in the region, but Nate Perry is about $2,600. That money can easily be made up over the three days in Duncan. But Rocky Patterson, a five-time circuit champ and a three-time world champion, has a $6,000 lead over the No. 2 man, traveling partner Chet Herren.
It all adds up to Duncan being the perfect setting for one of the greatest championships in the region.
ALVA, Okla. – A busy summer in a labor of love seems to be paying dividends to Joby Allen and the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team.
Allen wrestled two steers to the ground in a cumulative time of 9.5 seconds to win the bulldogging championship at the Colby (Kan.) Community College Rodeo this past weekend.
“It really felt good to win that rodeo,” said Allen, a junior from Alva. “I’ve been rodeoing all summer. I bought my (PRCA) permit and learned a lot rodeoing with the guys in the circuit. I feel like that gave me an advantage, and it paid off.”
Allen downed his first steer in 5.0 seconds and finished third in the opening round. He then posted a 4.5 to win the short round and the overall title, bettering teammate and runner-up Colten Madison of Whiting, Iowa, by more than five seconds.
“I really didn’t know much about my first steer, but I was going to get out on him and hit him quick,” Allen said. “It had rained that day, so the ground was a little sticky, and the steer wanted to die off on the back end, so that slowed me down a little.
“I knew my short-go steer was good, and I took a good cut at him.”
It worked. Between Allen and Madison, the steer wrestlers led the way to the Rangers second-place men’s team finish in northwest Kansas. Madison posted the fastest time of the rodeo, a 4.1-second run, to win the opening round. While his 10.7-second final-round run seemed long, it held up for fifth place in the round and the reserve title in Colby.
“Last year this team was led by a good group of bulldoggers,” Allen said, adding that J.D. Struxness and Jacob Edler finished first and second, respectively, at the College National Finals Rodeo. “Out of the top six bulldoggers in the (Central Plains) Region, we had three of them.”
Now Allen is atop that mountain with nine more events remaining. The season is long, but he knows there are opportunities that lie before him.
“I’ve run more steers since school let out between practicing and rodeoing than I ever have before, and I think going to the next step in the circuit made me compete at a better level,” he said. “I think it really helped my bulldogging out. It made me more aggressive and think about things more.”
Allen wasn’t the only Ranger to claim the title in Colby; he was joined by the team roping tandem of Kass Bittle and Edgar Fierro, who were 7.7 seconds to finish in a tie for third in the opening round, then posted a 7.0 to win the final round and the average. They were joined in the short round by Brandi Hollenbeck and Grayson Allred, who also tied for third in the opening round but didn’t score a time in the championship round.
Mason Bowen finished third in tie-down roping with two runs of 10.0 seconds each, while Cole Patterson shared the long-round win with a 9.5-second run. Taylor Donaldson finished fifth in the first round; both Patterson and Donaldson had no-times in the short round.
The Northwestern women were led by goat-tier Katie Miller, who was second in the short round and average. Taylor Munsell finished fourth in the short round and average in breakaway roping, while Ashlyn Moeder finished sixth in both rounds and the average in barrel racing.
It’s just the beginning of a long season, and the teams have three weeks remaining until they return to action in Durant, Okla., on Oct. 6. There will be plenty of practice opportunities between now and then, and that’s something Allen and his teammates lean on to improve.
“Stockton (Graves) really helps us out in practice every day,” Allen said of the Rangers’ coach. “If he sees something wrong with your horsemanship or when you’re on the ground, he’ll address it. We have these matches that put us behind the barrier and help us think of the right ways to do things.
“It really helps making practice like a rodeo.”
The three roughstock leaders in the ProRodeo world standings should find another event in which to compete.
As of today, bareback rider Tim O’Connell has the highest earnings of any PRCA contestant with $177,500. He is followed by bull rider Sage Kimzey ($168,712) and saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley ($166,025).
Meanwhile the all-around race is led by Josh Peek, who has earned a combined $116,603 in steer wrestling and tie-down roping – that’s nearly $50,000 behind Crawley and more than $60,000 behind O’Connell.
In order to qualify, they’d need to earn $3,000 in another event to qualify for the all-around. There are two roughstock cowboys among the top 20 in the all-around standings, Cole Elshere and Josh Frost.
Elshere has qualified twice to the NFR in saddle bronc riding but also has been making money in bull riding; Frost has competed in bull riding and several timed events through his college career.
The last time a roughstock cowboy won the all-around gold buckle was 1998, when three-event NFR qualifier Ty Murray earned his seventh.
While I realize that time has run out on the 2016 season – all entries for the closing weekend the regular season are set – it is fun to think about, especially since nobody will qualify for the NFR in more than one event.
Peek leads the all-around and is seventh in steer wrestling. He sits 26th in the tie-down roping standings and won’t advance after the regular season. Still, he has more in combined earnings than any other multi-event cowboy, so he has earned that No. 1 spot this season.
DODGE CITY, Kan. – The convergence begins later this week with 145 of the top cowboys and cowgirls in the region.
Whether they’re from Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska or Kansas, they have earned the right to compete at the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association Finals, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23-Saturday, Sept. 24, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Roundup Arena.
“This is their championship, their finals, their NFR,” said Joel Redman, vice president of Dodge City Roundup, the local committee that produces the KPRA finals. “We have a lot of contestants that are from southwest Kansas, but what’s really neat about the KPRA is that it attracts cowboys and cowgirls from all over this area.
“We want them to feel at home in Dodge City and enjoy this experience, because they’ve earned it. Whether they’re from here or Goddard or eastern Colorado, they are excited to be coming to Dodge City.”
It’s true. Many of the qualifiers rodeo part time and either have full-time jobs or are still in school. This is a way they can battle for important titles.
“Dodge City is a great fit for the KPRA,” said steer wrestler Ryan Swayze of Freedom, Okla. “They have great facilities at Roundup arena, and the Roundup committee has gotten behind this rodeo and helped us a bunch.
“There are lots of things to do in Dodge when you’re there for the whole weekend. It’s a great place to have our finals.”
Swayze also competes in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and has had his fair share of success at Roundup Rodeo over the years. This past August, he placed in two of three go-rounds and finished fourth overall to pocket more than $6,600.
“You always have those rodeos that you feel like you do good at,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of success at Dodge on this little sorrel horse I have now. Hopefully it’s a pen he likes. There are different setups that suit different horses, but he definitely likes Dodge. That’s a great place for him to like.”
Roundup Arena is not new to Swayze. He grew up near Coldwater, Kan., which is about 65 miles southeast of Dodge City.
“When I got out of college, I basically moved home,” Swayze said. “My address is Freedom, but I live just seven miles from where I grew up.”
He competed in tie-down roping and team roping while growing up and didn’t start steer wrestling until midway through his college career. He hasn’t looked back since. He sits fifth in the KPRA bulldogging standings, but he knows his chances to win the year-end are a long shot.
“The top two guys have more than $3,000 on me,” he said, referring to leader Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, and the No. 2 man, Justen Nokes of Juniata, Neb. “It would be a real stretch for me to win the KPRA title, but you’re not going to keep both those guys from winning some money; they just bulldog too good.
“If I can’t win the year-end, then I guess my focus ought to be on winning the average.”
In order to do that, he’ll have to battle through three rugged go-rounds. The best cumulative time will then grab the average championship. That’s the goal of every competitor who will be part of the festivities in just a few days.
“What we saw last year is that this rodeo is just as good as any you can go to,” Redman said. “This will have a couple different events that you don’t see at Roundup, but that just makes it more interesting. We’re all looking forward to it.”
HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The Waller County Fair and Rodeo is a bright beacon on the radar of ProRodeo’s brightest stars.
From a world-class rodeo to some outstanding opportunities for the greatest names in the game, the path to Hempstead is programmed as a favorite on everyone’s GPS. A big reason for that is The Eliminator, which traditionally has featured eight of the greatest tie-down ropers in rodeo.
This year’s list of tie-down ropers falls into that same category, and they will all battle for that prize Tuesday, Sept. 27. But the Waller County Fair Board has added the Team Roping Eliminator, which takes place Wednesday, Sept. 28.
“We’ve had a lot of success with The Eliminator in the first two years we’ve had it,” said Paul Sholler, co-chairman of the rodeo committee. “We have some great team ropers lined up, like Joe Beaver, Luke Brown, Jake Long, Colby Lovell, Travis Graves and Kaleb Driggers. We want to have these kinds of competitions because we know the fans love them.”
Fairgoers are treated to outstanding entertainment and competition throughout the exposition, but it is turned up over the final five nights of the fair and rodeo. The tie-down roping eliminator is just the start of it all.
“I just enjoy the fact that it’s a head-to-head competition and it’s unique,” said Shane Hanchey, the 2013 tie-down roping world champion from Sulphur, La. “It’s unlike anything we go to all year. You can break the barrier (and suffer a 10-second penalty) and still survive is someone misses.”
What makes The Eliminator so unique is the format, by which each competitor or team will rope in the first round. The slowest time is eliminated, and that process continues through the remaining rounds until one is crowned champion.
“We have a lot of good rodeo fans, especially calf roping fans, in this area, and it’s been a big hit,” said Clint Sciba, chairman of the Waller County Fair Board and co-chairman of the rodeo committee. “It’s a lot of fun to watch because of the format.
“It’s been such a hit that we decided to add a night to it and bring in some outstanding team ropers. Joe Beaver may have made a name for himself as a calf roper, but he won the all-around because of team roping. We’ve got a lot of (National Finals Rodeo) qualifiers that will be part of it.”
“It’s just a different deal, and we’re all there together by the roping boxes waiting to go,” he said. “We have a game plan of what a person needs to do, so it’s pretty cool interaction. The cool part about Hempstead is there are a bunch of people in the stands. It’s a calf-roping town, and they know what they’re watching.”
STEPHENVILLE, Texas – Over the last few years, many changes have been made concerning the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo.
The rodeo community has noticed. For the second straight year, it has been nominated for Medium Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Not only is it one of the top five events its size, PRCA members have recognized it as one of the 20 best out of more than 600 rodeos.
Of course, Stephenville’s rodeo should earn that distinction.
“We take pride in our town being the Cowboy Capital of the World,” said Chad Decker, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the event. “If you wear that crown, you have to produce. I have a very good group of people on the committee that are more than willing to go the extra mile to be as successful as we can be.
“We have the largest population of rodeo cowboys per square foot in the world.”
This year’s event is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Lone Star Arena. That makes for plenty of fireworks on the final weekend of the 2016 ProRodeo regular season.
“They’ve been on the road battling it out, and for them to come home from being on the road all year, they get to close out their year right in their own backyard,” Decker said. “I think it’s something they enjoy, especially now that we’ve got our money up. I look at it as a homecoming for these guys.”
As one of the final events of the season, the Stephenville rodeo will be a major stop for many top cowboys and cowgirls, even those that don’t live in Erath County. It will feature the largest purse of any rodeo that weekend that is open to all contestants. That’s just one of many major attractions for the top players in the game.
“We have the best stock contractor in rodeo with Pete Carr,” Decker said of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based livestock producer that has received five straight nominations for Stock Contractor of the Year. “He has tremendous livestock, and it’s something all these guys want to compete on. That’s important.”
It’s also a crowd-pleaser for fans. They realize that a number of contestants will need to collect nice paydays in Stephenville if they want to advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the season-ending championship that features only the top 15 contestants in each event.
“That’s what makes my Sunday afternoon crowd so big,” Decker said. “With Stephenville being a rodeo town, we cater to most of our spectators, who are rodeo people. They understand what’s on the line. It makes it more interesting for the crowd, because they know what’s at stake for the guys.”