Archive for July, 2011

postheadericon Awesome news

Anyone who knows me knows I’m passionate about many things: God, family, friends, rodeo and storytelling are among them.

I developed Rodeo Media Relations and TwisTED Rodeo because I see a need for the rodeo stories to reach as many people as possible. I believe in the concept of good media relations, that presented in a way that’s easy to understand and easy to use will eventually reach the public.

I’m blessed with tremendous storylines, some that are heartwarming, some that are heart-aching. Some are even a combination of the two.

That’s the case on the pieces I’ve done about benefits for Craig Latham, a nine-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and coach of the rodeo team at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. A cancer diagnosis is always heart-aching; in this case, it involved a friend.

But the story is also heart-warming, because so many have reached out to support the Latham family as they fight this disease. Brent Shoulders, who is organizing an online auction through www.gatlinauction.com, sent me word tonight that the folks at Gatlin Auction are reporting big numbers. In fact, Shoulders said, Gatlin typically sees about 100-150 visitors to its website per day. Once the story about the Latham benefit auction broke, Gatlin reported nearly 600 visitors in one day.

That’s a good indication of what media relations can do, and it’s what I envisioned when I founded Rodeo Media Relations; it’s why I believe the product is a perfect way to help the sport continue to grow.

More importantly, I pray that it means outstanding contributions to the Lathams, who have been so giving for so many year.

postheadericon Now … that’s familiar

Bull riding fans will find a familiar name among the Cheyenne Frontier Days leaders.

Steer roper Justin McKee of Lenapah, Okla., is leading the second go-round with a 13.2-second run and sits third in the two-run average with 30.7. McKee has done well in Cheyenne before, and it looks as though he’s in position to cash some pretty nice paychecks by the end of the week.

Good for him.

postheadericon Lea County Fair and Rodeo: Well worth price of admission

LOVINGTON, N.M. – A $5 bill doesn’t go nearly as far as it did even a decade ago.

The organizers of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo are trying to give its patrons a taste of the past with a $5 admission fee. That’s packing a whale of a wallop into the entertainment punch for folks eager to celebrate their community in the eight-day affair from Aug. 5-13.

“Our gate admission is just $5, and that’s for everything … the rodeo, concerts, exhibits,” said Dean Jackson, the fair board chairman. “You get to enjoy our small stage acts, which are the Hambone Express Pig Races, hypnotist Susan Rosen and Aaron Stone, a magician. If people want to see diversity, we’ll definitely have it.”

This is the 76th year for the Lea County festivities, and it’s a major deal, whether it’s the exciting shows in Jake McClure Arena or on the main stage or the great 4H and FFA activities.

“Our junior livestock sale runs second or third in the state as far as revenue,” Jackson said. “At one time, we were bigger than the state fair, but the state fair upped the ante. We’ve got 300 kids involved, including the inside exhibits and everything.

“Every year Farm Bureau does a lunch feed for the exhibitors on Tuesdays. This year we’re having the awards assembly on Friday before the rodeo. It’s sponsored by Hi-Pro Feed and Hungry Critters Feeders.”

In fact, it takes many great sponsors to help make an event like this happen. The reality is, a $5 admission fee wouldn’t be possible without sponsors or the Lea County Commission’s commitment to the annual festivities.

“We’ve got a fantastic partnership with Tate Branch Dodge, who have really gone above and beyond in helping us every year,” Jackson said. “They’re our biggest sponsors, by far. They give us vehicles to drive during the week of the fair, and they contribute to us financially, which helps us put on the best show we can possibly put on.”

“For every vehicle they sale in the months of June and July, they are donating $100 to our junior livestock kids. That’s pretty special.”
Chesapeake Energy provides a hefty partnership with its Livestock Pavilion sponsorship, and there are several other businesses that put their identity behind the county fair. Of course, they get plenty of high quality exposure in that sponsorship, with about 70,000 people rushing through the turnstiles over the course of the fair each year.

“This is the biggest event in Lea County every year,” Jackson said. “The commissioners underwrite this thing, and they do it for the people of Lea County.

“We’ve brought in Wright Amusements, which has probably one of the best carnivals I’ve seen. They run a good show, and everyone is very professional. They bring new rides every year. In fact, I know they’re bringing us a new ride this year; they’re not telling us what it is, but they said that it’ll knock your socks off.”

For $5, those who go surely can get some new socks.

postheadericon Lann brings cowboy experience to Silverton rodeo concert

SILVERTON, Texas – It’s quite fitting James Lann is the headline Texas Country concert act on the final night of Silverton’s Buck Wild Days Rodeo.

James Lann

James Lann

Lann is a cowboy, the fifth generation of his family to be such. Raised on a ranch where he rode horses, roped livestock and handled many of the other duties everyone in this part of the country is familiar with, Lann has been playing and singing since the age of 14.

The sweet country crooner will be the final act of three nights of entertainment in Silverton, a community of about 600 residents. It’s a whale of a way to close the three performances of rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18-Saturday, Aug. 20. The weekend will feature a free dance after Thursday’s rodeo and six great Texas Country concerts after Friday and Saturday nights’ rodeos.

“Who better to headline the Silverton Buck Wild Days Rodeo than someone who understands the sport,” said Corey Johnston of 106.1 KFLP-FM. “James Lann is that guy.”

Lann, who has released two phenomenal albums, will be joined “on the diamond” Saturday night by the Zack Walther Band and Jason Nutt & Highway 70. Lann will carry with him an outstanding repertoire, which features four No. 1 songs on the Texas Country charts. His most recent, “Halfway To Houston,” went No. 1 this year. In 2009, he reached No. 1 with “Honky Tonk Two Step Queen,” then followed that with “The Talent Requires” and “Every Kiss Goodnight” in 2010.

From his beginnings on the music scene – where he opened for acts like Chris LeDoux, Pat Green, Wade Bowen, Clay Walker and Darryl Worley – to where he is today, Lann has found a comfortable place in Texas Country.

That’s quite convenient for Zack Walther and his band, who reside in the genre. In fact, Walther brings new musical twists to the Texas music scene, and his talent has been accepted inside the renowned Gruene Hall in New Branfels, Texas.

The band’s most recent album, “Into The Fray,” includes 10 songs that features Walther’s hard-hitting lyrics. Walther began playing at the age of 13 but didn’t get a “real” guitar until he was 15. As for songwriting, he continues to hold tight to his influences, Jimi Hendrix and Simon and Garfunkel – with a Texas Country twist, of course.

“The Zach Walther Band is one of the most refreshing acts I’ve heard is years,” Johnston said. “Those guys are talented enough to shut Piers Morgan up for good.”

Jason Nutt & Highway 70 is based in Lubbock, and their upbeat, catchy style has been a hit with fans. Nutt, a singer and songwriter, had formed a number of bands before he teamed with fiddle player Tanner Evans, bassist Dub Wood, drummer Tyler Richardson and lead guitarist Clint Chapman. Each artist brought his own background into the act to form the talent that will be on display in Silverton.

“Jason Nutt & Highway 70 is the perfect fit for Saturday night’s show,” Johnston said. “He’s a local guy with big talent.”

postheadericon Online auction established to help Latham family

GOODWELL, Okla. – The giving nature is one of the greatest things in society. It’s also one of the most contagious.

Just a few weeks after the establishment of the Craig Latham Medical Fund and a benefit at Bob’s Cowboy Bar and Rodeo Room in Guymon, others in the Oklahoma Panhandle are stepping up to the plate to offer their gifts, talents and financial support to Latham and his family with an online auction.

Craig Latham

Craig Latham

In June, Latham was diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Tests from the visit a week ago were good. The tumor that was removed during surgery was an isolated plasmacytoma, meaning it had not spread into the bone marrow. Doctors warned Latham and his wife, Lori, that plasmacytoma can easily advance. Therefore, the family will be returning to Baltimore every six months so doctors can keep a close eye on the disease.

That’s why family and friends have reached out to others to help Latham, a nine-time qualifier to the National Finals Rodeo who now coaches the rodeo team for his alma mater, Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Brent Shoulders, an assistant professor of art at Panhandle State, is organizing the online auction, which will take place Aug. 5-Sept. 16 at www.gatlinauction.com.

“I have known Craig and Lori for many years, and they are great people who do all they can for the community of Goodwell and the OPSU community,” Shoulders said. “I also had a brother who passed away from cancer, and the whole fight is almost personal. Being so close to someone going through treatments, my family understands the extreme cost of treatment, and we also understand the generosity of our home community.

“We never lacked for help with anything because our community pulled together to help us, and I feel that it’s important to help others. It’s a Christian principle that I believe in.”

The benefit will feature award-winning artists from the region and Panhandle State art students, faculty and alumni.

“It will also feature merchandise donated from the great people of this area,” Shoulders said. “I want to thank everyone who has donated thus far and ask anyone else interested in donating to this great cause to do so.”

Friends from the rodeo community are donating items, too. Cervi Rodeo, a Colorado-based livestock firm, is providing four plaza tickets to the 10th go-round of the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which will be Saturday, Dec. 10, in Las Vegas. The Cervis also are donating two stud fees, which will allow for two mares to be bred to a super-bred bucking horse.

Therese Renault is donating jewelry, Best Bet Taxidermy is donating a $250 gift certificate and Chris Roe is donating an annual membership to Roe Hunting Resources. More donations will be piling in over the next few days, and information can be found at the Gatlin Auction website.

Those who wish to donate to the Craig Latham Medical Fund can do so through the account set up at the Bank of the Panhandle, P.O. Box 2180, Guymon, OK 73942.

“I knew of Craig before I ever came to Goodwell, and it didn’t take long to see their importance to the community,” Shoulders said. “The family is tremendously wonderful, and the amount and caliber of donations coming in is proof that Craig and Lori have touched this community. Craig has done a great deal of work in the sport of rodeo, and now he heads a celebrated rodeo program at OPSU. He works tirelessly to keep things going in a positive direction and is continuing to make great strides in rodeo and as an educator.

“If you’ve ever been around Craig, you know him from the start. Everything he says and does is that of a genuine person. Those who know Craig and Lori know how special they are, and we’re just trying to help them any way we can.”

postheadericon William Clark Green headlines Friday concert lineup

SILVERTON, Texas – The chances are good that William Clark Green will find a lot of comfort in Silverton, a community of about 600 residents

William Clark Green will be the featured act on Friday night, Aug. 19, during the Texas Country concerts that follow Silverton's Buck Wild Days Rodeo.

William Clark Green will be the featured act on Friday night, Aug. 19, during the Texas Country concerts that follow Silverton's Buck Wild Days Rodeo.

You see, Green was raised in Flint, Texas, a town that boasts a “sparse” population. That’s tiny. But Green’s music isn’t, and that’s why he’s the headlining act Friday night’s action-packed concert list at the Buck Wild Days Rodeo, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. The concert, which will also feature Hogg Maulies and No Dry County, will follow on the baseball diamond adjacent to the rodeo grounds shortly after the last bull is bucked.

Green began writing music at age 13 and was opening act for The Dragliners at age 14. Now accompanied by his band – bass guitarist Cameron Moreland, drummer Jay Saldana and banjo player Austin Davis – Green recorded his first album, “Dangerous Man,” which released in September 2008.

But he garnered some valuable lessons along the way. As a freshman at Texas Tech, Green began playing the Monday night spot at Recovery Room and worked his way up to the headlining show on Thursdays. He played at the Blue Light in Lubbock, Texas, and after many acoustic shows, he found the band that carries his name.

“The fact that the Buck Wild Days Rodeo in Silverton has William Clark Green headlining Friday night’s concert moves the summit of local entertainment to an elevation that will leave those in attendance gasping for air,” said Corey Johnson of 101.6-FM KFLP in Floydada. “Texas Country music is on the rise and I can’t think of anyone better to lead this event than someone as ‘dangerous’ as William Clark Green.”

Built in Rotan, Texas, the Hogg Maulies are based in Lubbock and share a vibrant sound that is reaching listeners. Formed by lead vocalist Rode Morrow and drummer David Mullins, the five-member band boasts of strong roots in the Texas Country genre, thanks in part bass guitarist Craig Tally, lead guitarist Jeff James and electric rhythm guitarist Parker Morrow.

The band is on its third album, August Rain, which has released the single “Good Heart.” It’s a nice addition to the band’s other two albums, Here To Stay and Live At The Blue Light.

In its purest form, Hogg Maulies is proud of the roots dug deep into the Texas Country soil. From their first shows at a hanger in the Rotan airport to their regular sets at the Blue Light in Lubbock, the band has found a zone that fans have come to enjoy.

“I can assure you of two things: this year’s rodeo will be ‘Buck Wild’ and the music, well … it’ll be ‘Hogg Wild,’ ” Johnston said.

With its country and Americana music touched by classic rock ’n’ roll, No Dry County is leading the way for a younger generation of artists involved in Texas Country. Led by lead singer Trent Langford, No Dry County performs heartfelt music with lyrics that are about real life experiences.

It’s fitting the four-person band is reaching out to fans of the Buck Wild Days Rodeo, where their songs about real places and real people will be well received. It’s why Langford, Mitchell Rambo, Monte Ebeling and Matt Newsom have No Dry County gaining popularity.

“With No Dry County leading off the Texas Country trifecta at this year’s Silverton rodeo, you can bet that this will soon be the premier event in the Texas Panhandle,” Johnston said.

postheadericon Cowboys find Carr bucking animals to their liking

LOVINGTON, N.M. – To win in the game of rodeo, it takes equal doses of talent and luck. It also takes having a good dance partner.

Wesley Silcox believes in that sentiment. It’s what’s guided the Payson, Utah, cowboy through his eight-year career, including that magical 2007 season when he won the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s bull riding world championship. Just in case he needed a refresher course, he got one at last year’s Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

Wesley Silcox

Wesley Silcox

“He just stepped out of the chute and turned back to the left,” Silcox said of Charlie’s Bandito, the Carr Pro Rodeo bull he rode to win the 2010 Lovington rodeo. “He moves a little, and He’s not real smooth. He’s just a good one to have, and you know you can be a lot of points on him.”

Silcox was a lot of points, scoring an 89. That was worth $4,389. More importantly, it secured Silcox’s place in both the Justin Boots Playoffs in Puyallup, Wash., and the Justin Boots Championships in Omaha, Neb., events that take the top contestants in each event from the tour standings.

“It meant a lot, because it bumped me up in the tour standings, and I was able to go to Puyallup and Omaha,” he said. “Winning the tour rodeos is good for the end of the season.”

It definitely was for Silcox, who earned $30,882 in Omaha. That catapulted him to No. 1 in the world standings heading into the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He finished the season second only to three-time world champion J.W. Harris. It was a very successful season, and he plans to return to Lovington again this August in order to get on some of the greatest animal athletes in the sport.

“Pete Carr’s a really good guy who works hard,” Silcox said. “I don’t know him real well, but he’s trying real hard and trying to get us good stock we can get on. That’s what makes us want to go to his rodeos. He’s doing his best trying to get a bunch of good guys to come to his rodeos.”

Carr is one of the rising stars in the stock contracting business, and it has an established name in the world of bucking horses. The cowboys know it as well as anyone.

“He’s got some of the best horses out there,” said Louie Brunson, the reigning Lea County Fair and Rodeo saddle bronc riding champion from Interior, S.D. “He tries hard to get the best stock, tries to make it as good a deal for the cowboys as possible.”

Brunson won the Lovington rodeo with an 88-point ride on Carr’s True Lies, one of the top horses in the PRCA. In fact, Scott Miller of Boise, Idaho, also rode True Lies, finishing in second place with an 87.

“I rode that horse once at an amateur rodeo before Pete owned him,” Brunson said. “I didn’t recognize him until I saddled him up, then I realized and got pretty excited. He’s a really nice little horse.”

For several years, Brunson has been on the brink of a berth to the NFR, which features the top 15 contestants on the money list at the conclusion of the regular season.

“Winning that rodeo felt pretty good,” he said. “I was in a little slump, and it just felt good to ride good again. Winning really helped out a lot, some for my confidence because it was a really good score, but also because it helped me get to Puyallup. I don’t think I had any tour money won until that rodeo. That win gave me a legitimate shot at the NFR.”

He’d love to repeat and knows he’ll have a chance.

“Pete’s got an even pen of bucking horses, which means that no matter what horse you draw, you have a chance to win,” Brunson said. “That’s real important. It keeps it fair. At some rodeos you go to, there’ll be that one top horse, and if you get him drawn, then you’ve got first place. With Pete’s you can win on anything, because everything’s good.”

postheadericon Livestock shows provide lifelong lessons to local youth

LOVINGTON, N.M. – In a world filled with children playing video games and turning themselves into couch potatoes, there are programs that offer youth much more.

In southeast New Mexico, many of the youngsters find plenty of things to fill their days while being involved in 4H and FFA livestock showing. It involves hard work and fortitude. It means learning to be selfless and caring.

“I think it’s important to have kids busy and active in something they’re interested in,” said Wayne Cox, a Lea County Extension Agent. “The main thing is we teach them responsibilities. You’ve got to learn to take care of something. What the kids are learning is that their animals are like they’re taking care of stuff as if they were parents taking care of their kids.

“These animals can’t take care of themselves, so they need someone to take care of them.”

All that care will be put on display during Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Aug. 5-13 in Lovington. It’s one of the biggest livestock exhibitions in New Mexico. The shows begin Tuesday, Aug. 9, with the market swine and dairy heifer shows. The shows Wednesday, Aug. 10, will feature poultry judging, meat goat show and the market lamb show; rabbit judging, the beef heifer show and the market steer show will take place Thursday, Aug. 11.

“We have probably 300 kids involved in our 4H and FFA programs, inside exhibitions and everything,” said Dean Jackson, chairman of the fair board.

That’s impressive, but is the care the animals are receiving. It’s all in the value of life lessons that can’t be taught in a textbook.

“These kids learn that they have to go out there during the heat of the day and make sure the animals are cared for instead of lying on the couch playing video games,” Cox said. “With my kids, our philosophy is that we don’t eat until the animals eat. That means we don’t eat our breakfast until we feed our animals.

“When they get old enough to go out in the work force, they need to get up in the morning and take care of their chores. They’ll need to have that responsibility by then.”

The culmination of all that work comes Saturday, Aug. 13. The 4H Awards presentation will take place at 7:30 a.m., followed by the Sale of Champions at 8 a.m.

“Our junior livestock sale consistently runs second or third in the state as far as revenue for the kids,” Jackson said. “We used to be bigger than the state fair. Last year we had $170,000-plus on 100 entries. It’s amazing.

“It’s unreal to watch what they give these kids. I remember when I was showing, lambs would bring $2 a pound. Now they’re bringing $25 to $30 a pound.”

Once an animal enters the sale ring, it is no longer eligible for another New Mexico show. Most of the animals sold at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo sale are donated to charitable organizations.

“Ten to 12 years ago, it was the largest hog show in the state,” Cox said. “There were over 400 hogs at the county fair at one time. That’s one of the reasons we got the new facilities, because we outgrew the old facilities.

“In terms of pure community support, we’ve got one of the best county fair sales around. There are some counties that can compete with us in terms of what we sell, but year in and year out we’re on of the top sales in the state. Our county has been very gracious in how they support our youth here.”

While it seems the youngsters get a great benefit from the sale of their animals, the rewards are greater in the years that follow.

“By far the most important thing in showing livestock is the responsibilities the kids learn through it,” Cox said.

postheadericon Pierce, Barrington share Old Fort Days Rodeo title

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a recap of the Fort Smith, Ark., rodeo that appears in the July 2011 issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News.

There was something magical in the air surrounding Kay Rogers Park’s Harper Stadium on May 31, the second night of the Old Fort Days Rodeo.

The Fort Smith, Ark., rodeo is a regular stop for the top barrel racers in the business, and it has hosted its fair share of phenomenal horseraces over the years. But on that Tuesday night, it got really good.

Benette Barrington, fresh off her first trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, blistered the cloverleaf pattern in 16.59 seconds. Better yet was that she was the 11th out of 12 girls to run.

But Barrington had nothing on Carlee Pierce, the final lady to run that night, also posted a 16.59. Better yet, nobody passed the duo over the course of the six-performance rodeo. Each woman pocketed $2,763 for their work in western Arkansas. But that’s just a small part of the story.

That Dillon is Rare

Rare Dillon helped Annesa Self to circuit titles and a qualification to the 2008 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Now Pierce is hopes the 11-year-old buckskin gelding can lead her to the same green pastures. Since the two have teamed together, they’ve found their way to the pay window often – not bad for a relationship that’s just a few weeks old.

“I was at a rodeo in Longview, Texas, and Annesa approached me after I ran and asked if I was interested in looking for more horses,” said Pierce, of Woodward, Okla. “I’m always looking for something nice. She said, ‘I’ve been watching you; I’m going to sell Dillon, but it’s going to be hand-picked.’ ”

It seems Self saw something magical in Pierce, and several days after their meeting, the two cowgirls gathered together for a test drive, of sorts.

“I rode him, and I loved him,” Pierce said. “He was not advertised. She decided she needed to stay closer to home and work more of the circuit rodeos.”

Self, a regular in the top 45 in the world standings who won the Dodge Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo this past January, has decided to spend more time with family and less time on the rodeo trail. But she knew Dillon was too good to stay with her.

“I fit him really, really well,” Pierce said.

Their first rodeo together was in Corpus Christi, Texas, on April 22, where they posted a 13.05-second run for second place and $4,001.

“It’s been a match ever since,” she said. “We went to Guymon, where I hit a barrel in the first go to win it and finished third in the second-go.”

Pierce and Dillon have reached the pay window quite often. Just a few days before their sprint to the finish in western Arkansas, the pair earned the title in Claremore, Okla., with a 16.96 – the only run of the weekend that was less than 17 seconds. With every run, every turn, Pierce shares it all with Self, just as it should be.

“Neesa’s still a huge part of his life and my life,” said Pierce, who is married to Steve Pierce, owner of Jack’s Casing Crew in Woodward; they have three children, a son, Kale, 13; and daughters Makala, 13, and Jacy, 5. “We usually talk every second or third day, at least every rodeo. She’s a proud mom to him.”

Winning on the fly

Barrington spent a lot of time in Canada the end of May and early June. In fact, she flew back to the Oklahoma-Arkansas region just to make her run in Fort Smith.

“It’s a big win for me right now,” said Barrington, who, on March 29, married Jud Little. “It was darn sure a confidence booster.”

Barrington has her top horse, Smooth My Credit – a 7-year-old sorrel mare by PESI Stallion Cash Not Credit out of Smooth My Feathers – but she rode JL Dash Ta Heaven to the split victory in Fort Smith. The latter is a 6-year-old sorrel stallion by PESI Stallion Dash To Fame out of Dyna’s Plain Special, the athletic mare Janae Ward rode to the 2003 world championship.

“I took him on the road and seasoned him a little bit, and that helped me make the NFR last year,” Barrington said. “We had some good wins on him, but I hadn’t been on him since last fall.”

Dash Ta Heaven has breeding obligations to uphold, so he won’t be back in the competition arena for several weeks. Still, Barrington plans to work hard in an effort to return to the Wrangler NFR and the Canadian Finals Rodeo. She knows it’s going to take everything she and the horses have if they’re going to make it.

“At this point, the horses that I’m riding are young, so I have to just go,” she said. “I don’t have that hard-knocking horse that you can pick your 30 to 40 rodeos and win on, so I just have to be on the road and see where it leads.”

postheadericon 115 years of The Daddy of ’em All

The 115th edition of the world famous Cheyenne Frontier Days has begun with the first performance Saturday afternoon.

Over the next week, the biggest names in rodeo will try to add a (or another) Cheyenne title to their resume. It’s a coveted championship. And the prize money isn’t too shabby either. In fact, the overall purse is several hundred thousand dollars.

Placing at Cheyenne brings contestants prestige. It also boosts bank accounts. It’s all important to those who make their livings on the rodeo trail.

The prize money can and, most likely, will be spent, but the memories of winning The Daddy of ’em All will last a lifetime.