Archive for July, 2014

postheadericon Champion wins Cheyenne on Dirty Jacket

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Richie Champion has been one of the hottest bareback riders in rodeo this season.

On Sunday afternoon, the Texas cowboy rode one of the most celebrated horses in the sport to win the at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo championship. He matched moves with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket for 91 points to win the short go-round and the coveted Cheyenne title, pocketing $12,122 in the process.

Richie Champion

Richie Champion

Leading cowboys to the winner’s circle is nothing new for Dirty Jacket, a 10-year-old bay gelding that has performed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo each of the last five years. In 2013, the powerful and athletic horse was named the Reserve World Champion bareback horse.

In fact, Dirty Jacket has been selected as one of the top three bareback horses in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association each of the past two seasons.

Champion is in his third year as a pro and is well on his way to his first qualification to the NFR. He has earned $66,826 this season in the PRCA and sits fourth in the world standings. But he wasn’t the only Cheyenne champion to have benefited from a Pete Carr bucking animal.

Bull rider Austin Meier won the Frontier Days title for the first time in his career, posting an 87-point ride Sunday afternoon on Carr’s Line Man, a bull that went to the NFR this past two Decembers. Meier, who placed in the second and third go-rounds, finished with a three-ride cumulative score of 254 points, beating four-time world champion J.W. Harris and two-time NFR qualifier Tyler Smith by two points.

Line Man, a black-and-white spotted bull, also helped Sage Kimzey to a 92-point ride to share the event championship this past May in Guymon, Okla. Meier, a regular on the Professional Bull Riders tour, earned $12,178 in Cheyenne.

postheadericon Vieira wins Guymon PBR title

GUYMON, Okla. – Fabiano Vieira is the No. 2 bull rider on the Professional Bull Riders tour, and he proved just why Saturday night.

Vieira was the only cowboy to ride two bulls during the inaugural Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena, winning the championship and adding $7,367 to his already-hefty bank account – so far this season, the Brazilian has earned nearly $193,000 riding bulls.

TouringProLogo“Fabiano is a phenomenal bull rider, and he did what he does,” said Hayes, a six-time PBR World Finals qualifier from Liberal, Kan. “He’s a machine. He rides the bulls he gets on, and he wins. I was glad to see Fabiano win it. He’s a world-class competitor, and he came to Guymon, Oklahoma, and won.”

Vieira was the first cowboy to earn a qualified ride in the first round, posting an 80-point ride on D&H Cattle’s Co Jack. He placed fifth in the round, but most importantly, qualified for the championship round. That’s where he showed his championship form, matching moves with D&H’s Wiggin Out for 86.5 points, the highest marked ride of the event.

There were just seven qualified rides Saturday night, but that was an indication of the bull power that was part of the festivities. Only five cowboys made qualified rides in the first round, with New Yorker Sevi Torturo winning with an 86 on Mike White’s KOL. Torturo finished second in the aggregate, pocketing $5,322.

“The bull riders were telling us it was an excellent event,” said Wing, a five-time World Finals qualifier from Dalhart, Texas.

By winning the title, Vieira earned the right for a match ride on the bounty bull, D&H’s Stone Sober. Vieira was unable to stay aboard the athletic bull for more than a couple of seconds and failed to collect the bounty.

“Me and Fabiano are good friends, and it means a lot to me to have him come to this event even though it’s not a Built Ford Tough event,” Hayes said, referring to the PBR’s premier tour. I wish he would’ve ridden that bounty bull for $10,000, but that is one bucking sucker.

“This was just the ground floor for the future. I think the fans liked it. I hope it was everything they expected and more.”

Kasey Hayes and Stormy Wing Invitational
Guymon, Okla., July 26, 2014
First round:
1. Sevi Torturo, 86 points on Mike White’s KOL, $1,326; 2. Simoa Da Silva, 83.5, $885; 3. (tie) Ryan McConnel and Josh Frihauf, 82, $497 each. Championship round: 1. Fabiano Vieira, 86.5 points on D&H Cattle’s Wiggin Out, $1,823; 2. Robson Aragao, 84, $1,492. Average: 1. Fabiano Vieira, 166.5 points on two rides, $5,543; 2. Sevi Torturo, 86 points on one ride, $3,996; 3. Robson Aragao, 84, $2,449; 4. Simoa Da Silva, 83.5, $1,676; 5. (tie) Ryan McConnel and Josh Frihauf, 82, $902 each.

postheadericon Roundup ready for a week of rodeo

DODGE CITY, Kan. – In the world of rodeo, there are a select few events across North America where a championship holds a little more prestige.

The Dodge City Roundup Rodeo is one of those.

DodgeCityRoundup“This is an awesome rodeo, and it’s a good time of year,” said bareback rider Steven Peebles, a five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Redmond, Ore. “They have lots of good horses. Everybody who rodeos knows about Dodge City. I’ve always wanted to win this rodeo.”

Steven Peebles

Steven Peebles

Peebles won the first round and finished with a two-ride cumulative score of 169 points to claim a share of the title with fellow Oregonian R.C. Landingham of Pendleton. They are expected to be in the lineup to defend their titles at this year’s rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 30-Sunday, Aug. 3, at Roundup Arena.

They will be joined by nine other contestants who hope to leave this western Kansas community with another Roundup buckle, one of the most honored trophies in ProRodeo.

“I like this arena,” said tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger, an 11-time NFR qualifier from Ponca City, Okla., who has multiple Roundup titles. “It’s always been good to me.”

In fact, Dodge City is one of the reasons Schneeberger owns more Prairie Circuit championships than any other tie-down roper in the history of the ProRodeo Circuit System – he owns eight titles in the region that encompasses contestants and rodeos primarily from Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska; Roundup Rodeo is the biggest event in the circuit.

Jerome Schneeberger

Jerome Schneeberger

“We take a lot of pride in our place in rodeo,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event. “We work very hard all year to put together an event that not only is great for our fans, but also for the rodeo cowboys and cowgirls. We celebrate our champions, and we want Dodge City to be the place to be every year.

“We have a great list of Roundup champions, including many, many world champions, and that means a lot to us. It’s a sign that the best of the best work very hard to win our rodeo every year.”

Of the 2013 champs, one is saddle bronc rider Cody Wright, a two-time world champion from Milford, Utah. Last August, Wright posted one of the highest marked rides of his 16-year career, a 91-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Tom Gun.

“Anytime you can start winning, especially at a big rodeo and a tour rodeo so that you can stay in the race, it’s great because there are so many great bronc riders,” Wright said.

Cody Wright

Cody Wright

It marked the second time that the Utah cowboy has won the Roundup buckle; he also won the title in 2003. He is one of many of rodeo’s brightest stars who own multiple Dodge City championships. But there also are plenty of guys like steer wrestler Seth Brockman who own just one crown.

“Dodge City is a great rodeo, and it’s one we all want to win,” said Brockman, a 2011 NFR qualifier from Wheatland, Wyo. “I’ve never done too well here. I placed good in a round here (in 2012), so I guess I finally learned how to put three good runs together here.”

If possible, the 2014 version of Roundup Rodeo will feature a bigger week of entertainment, including world-class entertainers the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls and Justin Rumford, the two-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year. Rumford, who grew up in Abbyville, Kan., also won the 2013 Coors Man in the Can, an annual award given to the best barrelman in the business.

The biggest change in the schedule will be the Tuesday extravaganza, which will include a full day of roping followed by the inaugural Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls, a stand-alone bull riding event that will feature the top bull riders in the game. Steer ropers will open with the first two go-rounds starting at 8 a.m. The third round will begin at 4 p.m., followed by the Dodge City Roundup Pro-Am Team Roping. The bull riding will close a full day of action.

“We will have six straight days of rodeo action,” Trotter said. “I love that we will have our pro-am Tuesday, which will get a number of our local guys involved. It is exciting for us.”

It’s exciting for everyone, from the world’s greatest cowboys and cowgirls to the fans who want to enjoy a solid week of entertainment.

postheadericon Lovington rodeo honored by nomination

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Over the years, the men and women who organize the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo work tirelessly to make it one of the best events to hit southeastern New Mexico every summer.

Their work is being recognized at a national level.

In 2013, the members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association nominated the rodeo as one of the top five large outdoor events in the country. With most of the PRCA membership being competing cowboys, it says something about the things being done every year.

Lea County Fair LogoThey’ll try to top that during this year’s event, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6-Saturday, Aug. 9, at Jake McClure Arena on the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.

“When I found out we’d been nominated, it took my breath away,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “It was such an honor considering who we were competing with, rodeos like Cheyenne (Wyo.) and Pendleton (Ore.) that have such a long history.

“To be nominated in that group is such an honor. I was proud to be part of the fair board.”

There are lots of reasons for that pride. In addition to the rodeo committee being nominated in 2013, Pete Carr was nominated as PRCA stock contractor of the year; Pete Carr Pro Rodeo produces the Lovington rodeo and has for a number of years.

“I think we have such a good relationship with Pete, and that makes a difference in our fair and rodeo,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “It was very special to me that we were nominated for rodeo of the year the same time Pete was nominated for stock contractor of the year.

“We’ve said for a long time that Pete Carr is one of the best contractors in rodeo, and now everybody in the PRCA agrees.”

Massey has been on the rodeo committee a number of years, and he’s seen the rodeo grow over the years. Now it’s a major part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour and hosts the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Combined with one of the greatest expositions in the region, it is a major stop for ProRodeo’s biggest stars.

“I’m also on the rodeo committee, and we work hard,” Helton said. “We go to Las Vegas during the convention and go to the meetings so that we can do things to make our rodeo better and better every year. It takes a lot of work, and every person on the committee is dedicated to making it the best it can be.

“Being nominated is the biggest thing to happen to this fair and rodeo in a long time.”

postheadericon Winnsboro ready for local rodeo

WINNSBORO, La. – The sport of rodeo has a great history in this eastern Louisiana berg.

The tradition continues during the 57th annual Deep South PRCA Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 2, at Deep South Rodeo Arena in Winnsboro.

“It is a very established rodeo that’s been around a long time,” said Andy Stewart, the rodeo’s announcer from nearby Collinston, La. “We saw a lot of great cowboys from that area over the years that come to that rodeo.

“It’s very community oriented. It’s a grassroots, downhome-type rodeo that has a great history.”

Andy Stewart

Andy Stewart

That history is mixed with a top-notch production from the crew at Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, the livestock contractor for the event. Together, it makes for a phenomenal experience for contestants and fans.

“Pete brings some really good stock to our rodeo, and that’s really good for us,” said Skipper Stinson, a key member of the committee that produces the annual rodeo. “That helps make our rodeo better. The better the cowboys and the better the stock, the better the rodeo is going to be.”

That’s something folks in Winnsboro have come to expect.

“We get a lot of the circuit cowboys to come, and we get a lot of the great guys from our area,” said Stewart, who has been nominated five times as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announcer of the year. “The thing that Pete Carr and his crew provides at this rodeo is professionalism and production.

“This is a very small arena and a very small community, but we bring in a great production and great animals. It’s a great, professional show.”

It shows in the product. Last year, some of the top names in the game came away from Winnsboro with Louisiana cash. Texan Jake Brown scored 85 points to win bareback riding on Carr’s Ragin Angel, a horse that has bucked at the NFR each of the past two years. Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La., won the saddle bronc riding crown on Carr’s Miss Rodeo.

Those are just a few of the big names who make the Deep South Rodeo so strong.

“When the DeMoss boys come, it really boosted the whole crowd because they like to see our guys ride,” Stinson said. “They bring a lot of their friends to ride with them.”

That says a lot about the Winnsboro rodeo, the community and the great animal athletes that are part of the mix.

“This is just a great little rodeo,” Stewart said. “One thing that Winnsboro does is they have one of the largest kids rodeos in the South the weekend before the ProRodeo, and some of the kids get to ride during the actual rodeo. That’s pretty cool.”

It all adds up to a great show for rodeo fans.

postheadericon Cord McCoy to be part of Guymon PBR

GUYMON, Okla. – There are a lot of adjectives to describe Cord McCoy: former bull rider, television show host, livestock contractor and reality TV star.

They’re all mixed into a giant bag of cowboy. This weekend McCoy will be in the Oklahoma Panhandle for the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon.

Cord McCoy

Cord McCoy

McCoy will be one of the stock contractors at the event, providing bucking bulls to match the power of some of the Professional Bull Riders brightest rising stars. He also will be making appearances Saturday in Guymon.

From 10 a.m.-noon, McCoy will be part of an autograph session at Carter’s Market Place, where he also will announce the winner of the “Name the Bull” contest.

Starting at 2:30 p.m., he will be at Bob’s Cowboy Bar and Rodeo Room signing autographs and meeting with fans. A booth will be set up at the arena before the event begins for autographs from McCoy, Hayes, Wing and other PBR stars.

McCoy, a ranch-raised cowboy from the tiny southeastern Oklahoma town of Tupelo, is a five-time International Professional Rodeo Association champion who qualified in bull riding for the National Finals Rodeo in 2005. In the years since, he has qualified numerous times to the PBR World Finals.

He is the host of “The Ride with Cord McCoy,” which airs on RFD-TV. Most notably, he and his brother, Jet, have appeared an unprecedented three times on the CBS-TV reality series “The Amazing Race,” most recently during the spring 2014 season. The McCoys have been fan favorites on the show since their first appearance in 2010. In fact, they were named Best Dynamic Duo for the 2014 CBS Fan Awards.

In addition to witnessing the true spectacle that is the PBR and seeing the association’s big names, this is a great opportunity for fans to meet one of the most well-known cowboys today.

postheadericon Xtreme Bulls tour heading to Dodge

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Fans have come to expect nothing but greatness with the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.

Members of the volunteer committee that produce the annual event have come up with a topper in the form of the Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, at Roundup Arena.

DodgeCityRoundup“We looked at ways we could add to our rodeo, and we realized there was something with the Xtreme Bulls,” Roundup chairman Dr. R.C. Trotter said, referring to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s bull riding-only events. “We thought this was the perfect way to kick off a big week of rodeo in Dodge City.”

Roundup is a big-time event in ProRodeo. Two years ago, it was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Each season, it regularly features a who’s who list of the sport’s greatest stars. In fact, there are so many bull riders that most performances feature two sections of bull riding – one to start the show, and one to finish.

“We get a lot of bull riders every year, so we thought this was a great way to get the very best to show up one night,” said Trotter, who, with his wife, Mary, is sponsoring the Xtreme Bulls with Glazer’s/Miller/Coors. “I think the fans will love it.”

They should. The Roundup championship buckle is one of the most sought-after prizes in the sport; now the Xtreme Bulls championship will be another strong piece to a bull rider’s resume.

Sage Kimzey

Sage Kimzey

“Dodge City is one of the best rodeos all year,” said Sage Kimzey, a ProRodeo rookie who has led the bull riding world standings much of the season. “I love that they are having an Xtreme Bulls event, and it sounds like the city of Dodge City and the sponsors have stepped up to make this great.

The one-night affair will feature a large purse, which is attractive to the contestants. Now in its 10th year, the Xtreme Bulls Tour features a place for the top bull riders in the game to showcase their talents against some of the rankest bulls in the sport. Forty bull riders will all compete in the first round, with the best scores advancing to the championship round. The best cumulative score on the two rides will be crowned the inaugural Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls champion.

“Xtreme Bulls is a very good deal for the sport of rodeo,” said Kimzey, 19, of Strong City, Okla. “Bull riding has always been a fan-favorite event, and I’m not saying that just because I’m a bull rider. If you can bring it all together with the top 40 bull riders and some hometown guys, you understand why it’s such a good deal.

“It’s great for the sport, great for the fans and great for the bull riders.”

While Kimzey leads the world standings, four-time and reigning world champion J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas, leads the Xtreme Bulls money list. Both are expected to be in the line-up when the show rolls into town. Kimzey, who won the Xtreme Bulls title in San Antonio earlier this year, is hoping he continues his string of solid performances.

“Momentum is the most important thing in bull riding ad rodeo in general,” said Kimzey, who earlier this month finished second at the College National Finals Rodeo. “It’s such a mind game. You can fail 50 percent of the time, and you’re still a good bull rider in today’s world.”

postheadericon World’s best coming to Xtreme Bulls

Four-time world champion J.W. Harris rides Pete Carr's Classic Pro Rodeo's Medicine Show earlier this year to win the Fort Worth (Texas) Super Shootout. Harris is one of the numerous top bull riders in the PRCA who will be in Lovington, N.M., for the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, set for Tuesday, Aug. 5., at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Four-time world champion J.W. Harris rides Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Medicine Show earlier this year to win the Fort Worth (Texas) Super Shootout. Harris is one of the numerous top bull riders in the PRCA who will be in Lovington, N.M., for the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, set for Tuesday, Aug. 5., at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

LOVINGTON, N.M. – J.W. Harris is a man on a mission.

Last season, the Mullin, Texas, cowboy rode his way to a fourth bull riding world championship, earning nearly $253,000 for the season. This year, he’s focused on gold buckle No. 5, which is why he will be part of all the action at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo – first with the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, then during the rodeo, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6-Saturday, Aug. 9, at Jake McClure Arena.

It’s a hectic week of non-stop action for one of the greatest bull riders in ProRodeo history.

“You can win a lot of money out of Lovington,” said Harris, who in early July was No. 2 in the world standings. “The last two year I finished pretty good in the bull riding and got thrown off my short-round bull at 7.9 seconds both times. You still win a lot of money at the bull riding, but then you turn right back around and have a chance to win money at the rodeo, too.

J.W. Harris

J.W. Harris

“That’s a big week for us, especially with the other rodeos going on. A man can make a lot of money right there in a week.”

Harris knows what it takes to make money, especially in southeastern New Mexico. Over the last two years, Harris has earned $9,362 at the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Just imagine what could have happened had he finished off the final one-tenth of a second during the championship round.

“Doing well is always good at the Xtreme Bulls because they pay so well, depending on how well you do in each of the rounds,” said Harris, who has earned more than $45,000 in Xtreme Bulls this season, more than half of his earnings as of July 7.

“It helps you add a little bit of a cushion or make up a lot of ground in just one day, especially with the big-paying rodeos mostly being done by the time we get to Lovington. If you can win $15,000 out of Lovington, that just sets you up on the rest of the fall run.”

The rodeo season runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30, and only the cowboys among the top 15 in earnings at the conclusion of the season earn the right to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which takes place at Las Vegas in December. Having big-money opportunities in August is critical for the contestants hoping to secure their spot at the year-end championship event.

It takes more than great cowboys to find success at that level; it takes great bulls, too. That’s where Pete Carr Pro Rodeo comes in. Not only will the Dallas-based livestock contractor provide some of the greatest bulls in the game at the Xtreme Bulls event, Carr also solicits other top-caliber bulls from other contractors to be in Lovington for the challenge.

“We have a tremendous lineup of bulls,” Carr said. “It’s going to be amazing with the caliber of bulls we have coming this year.”

That’s why world champions and others from ProRodeo’s elite will take any means possible to be in Lovington for the event.

“With the Xtreme bull riders in Lovington, it should be something people will talk about for a while,” Carr said. “I think this is something that will draw a lot of fans to town, because it’s going to be that good.”

That’s what organizers have learned over the past two seasons and why Xtreme Bulls returns to town again this August.

“We thought it was an event that would go well with our fair and rodeo,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We think the people in this area would really enjoy it. Xtreme Bulls is a high-energy event that people in this area would turn out for.

“With the price of our fair and rodeo being just $8 for admission, we felt like it was an outstanding event we could give to a family for a very affordable price.”

postheadericon Cowboys expect big things in Eagle

EAGLE, Colo. – Cowboys have come to expect big things when they arrive for the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.

Casey Colletti

Casey Colletti

A big reason for that is the amazing livestock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer for the annual rodeo, set for Wednesday, July 23-Saturday, July 26, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

Over the years, cowboys and fans have come to expect high scores over the course of the four-night rodeo that rests along the picturesque Rocky Mountains.

“The cool thing about Eagle is everything bucks so well that you never know what’s going to win,” said bareback rider Casey Colletti, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Pueblo, Colo.

The scores prove it. From the Ryan Gray-Grass Dancer match-up in 2009 that resulted in a world record-tying score of 94 points to rides regularly in the high 80s, Eagle is the perfect place for big-time rides.

Pete Carr

Pete Carr

“Eagle is a pretty special place, even if we’re just talking about the atmosphere,” said Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm. “The animals just love the weather. It’s really cool for us as well when you figure we’re a Texas livestock company. Getting to go to Eagle in July from this kind of heat in Texas is a nice change for all of us.”

Take last year’s performances, which featured a number of top scores from ProRodeo’s biggest stars. Jesse Wright, the 2012 world champion saddle bronc rider from Milford, Utah, won the rodeo on Carr’s Django, while three-time NFR qualifier Trevor Kastner of Ardmore, Okla., won the bull riding title on Carr’s One Bad Cat.

A pair of up-and-coming cowboys shared the bareback riding championship with big rides on two of the greatest bucking horses in the game. George Gillespie IV of Elgin, Ore., matched moves with Dirty Jacket, while third-year pro Richie Champion of The Woodlands, Texas, rode Scarlet’s Web.

Richie Champion

Richie Champion

Having great animal athletes is the key to all cowboys’ success, and they know they’ll have a good shot at a great payday with the Carr livestock in Eagle.

“Pete has our interests in line,” said Champion, who has been among the top 10 in the world standings much of the 2014 season. “He wants us to have good horses to get on. He’s put in a lot of time to get good horses together, and he has a lot. He has horses that are consistent. He’s one of the guys that have the top animals and hauls them all over the country to give us a chance to win.”

Champion has earned a number of key victories over the last 12 months, including the championship in Guymon, Okla., this past May while aboard Fancy Free, a regular at the NFR. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s amazing bucking horses or bulls, Carr has them at every rodeo.

“Anytime Pete Carr has a rodeo, you know the stock’s going to be great,” said rookie Sage Kimzey, the No. 1 bull rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. “His bull string is one of the best in the business.”

Whenever the Carr team rolls into town, it’s a winning combination.

postheadericon Acts bring great shows daily to fair

LOVINGTON, N.M. – A walk around the Lea County Fairgrounds in early August reveals many sights, sounds and smells.

Ventriloquist Kevin Johnson returns to Lovington this year to be part of the daily fun at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

Ventriloquist Kevin Johnson returns to Lovington this year to be part of the daily fun at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

It’s robust and inspiring, and the sounds of fair-goers resonates across the complex on Lovington’s eastern edge. There are tasty treats and delicious meals; there are games and rides; and there are great acts that make up the daily entertainment schedule.

The Lea County Fair and Rodeo will feature daily entertainers from 5 p.m. to closing every night of the fair, from Aug. 1-9. This year’s lineup includes ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, the Equilibrium Circus and the Ham Bone Express Pig Races.

“We talk to people in the community about what they want to see at the fair, and we try to stay with that,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board.

Ham Bone Express is operated by the Borger family, and they bring their action and comedy show to Lovington from northwest Arkansas. It’s funny, fun to watch and fast-paced, and the Borgers claim to have “The Swiftest Swine Off the Line.” It has four races with four pigs in each race, and the master of ceremonies keeps the crowd involved by assigning cheering sections, with each section having a designated “rooter,” or cheerleader.

“The thing I love about that is that he changes it up every year,” Helton said of Charlie Borger, the emcee who operates the show with his wife, Carol. “He’s part of the show with the pigs. The people love him, and I can see why. If you sit down with him and talk to him, that’s just the way he is; he just cracks you up.”

The tandem presents the ancient circus art of hand-to-hand with quirky twists as they perform a number of tricks and stunts that may not be seen anywhere else. They also add a little heat to the equation in the form of fire.

The Equilibrium Circus features the award-winning duo, who show off their athletic talent and creativity. With more than 30 years of combined experience, they have appeared in film, television, theater, street performance and live events.

Johnson, who started ventriloquism at age 9, has a pretty good pedigree, too. He was self-taught, but he was drawn to entertaining quite naturally – his grandfather, Harley Noles, performed magic shows throughout Colorado and offered a spot in his lineup should Johnson develop his act well enough.

When Johnson was 13, he opened for his grandfather, performing for five minutes with a wooden puppet that his grandfather made him. Since then, he has appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “America’s Got Talent.”

“We want to bring the acts to our fair and rodeo that the people of Lea County want to see,” Helton said. “That’s been very successful for us.”

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