Archive for September, 2014

postheadericon Waller County Fair continues to blossom

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The Waller County Fair is more than a local gathering; it’s an exposition in every sense of the word.

Hempstead is a thriving community of 6,000 people just 50 miles northwest of downtown Houston. Over the course of nine days each fall, it’s a boomtown with loads of entertainment. That’s the way organizers have planned things since last fall, and it’s why so many people continue to make it a hotspot.

WallerLogo“Each year we work very hard to come up with a way to make our fair and rodeo even better than it was before,” said Clint Sciba, president of the Waller County Fair Association, a group of volunteers who produce the annual expo. “This year we’ve got lots of things that we’re excited to showcase.”

That’s just what fair-goers have come to expect out of the Waller County Fair, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, with a youth rodeo. That’s just the beginning of a spectacular bazaar, which will continue through Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead.

“We’ve added to our carnival area to allow Moore Amusements to bring in new and larger rides,” Sciba said. “We have added 400 new amps of power and 27,000 square feet to the area.

“We also have an additional three acres of parking behind the fairgrounds to help everyone get in and out as safe as possible. We want them to get inside the fairgrounds and have a good time every night they are here.”

There will be plenty of good times, from the rides to the displays to a variety of rodeo-related events to the concerts, which will have a Texas Music flavor.

“We are starting our concerts on our first Saturday after Bullmania with Jarrod Birmingham, followed by Cody Johnson,” Sciba said of the Sept. 27 lineup.

They will be followed by Phillip Griffin and Max Stalling on Thursday, Oct. 2; Jody Booth and Josh Ward on Friday, Oct. 3; and Bart Crow and Brandon Ryhder on Saturday, Oct. 4.

“We have invested in two big fans to the entertainment pavilion to help keep everyone comfortable,” Sciba said. “We want a person’s experience at the Waller County Fair to be exceptional.”

Rodeo fans will have numerous opportunities to enjoy the sport, whether it’s through the open ranch rodeo to the open team roping to the Waller County Team Roping on Sunday, Sept. 28. The highlight on Tuesday, Sept. 30, will be the Eliminator Match, featuring six of the top tie-down ropers in ProRodeo competing in a six-run shootout; that follows a tie-down and ladies breakaway roping event.

On Wednesday, Oct.1, there will be a youth 3D and an open 4D barrel race, and the ProRodeo will have its three-day run from Thursday, Oct. 2-Saturday, Oct. 4. The Friday, Oct. 3, rodeo performance will feature the 8 Second Bareback Shootout, featuring veteran Clint Cannon of Waller going head-to-head against newcomer Richmond Champion of The Woodlands – Cannon is a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and Champion is heading to his first NFR this year.

The Waller County Fair also is a showcase of animal athletic talent from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, one of the top livestock producers in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Each of the past two seasons, Pete Carr has been nominated for PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year; last season, 27 Carr animals bucked at the NFR, a record number from one livestock producer at ProRodeo’s grand finale.

Of course, all of this revolves around one of the most exciting annual fairs in southeast Texas, which means there will be plenty of opportunities for great food, livestock shows and other exhibits.

“Our community continues to step up to support our fair and rodeo and all the events that go with it,” Sciba said. “We are working to continue improving everything at the fairgrounds, and our ultimate goal every year is to make sure we give back to the community through scholarships. We have given out $250,000 in scholarships over the last six years, so that is very important to us.”

It’s important to fair-goers, too. They continue to make the Waller County Fair a premier destination every fall.

postheadericon Rodeo clown living his dreams

HARRISON WILL BE ONE OF THE MANY ENTERTAINING ASPECTS  OF THE AMERICAN ROYAL PRORODEO

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For 10 December nights in the City of Lights, John Harrison rolled out an oversized protective barrel that served as his front-row seat for bull riding during the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

As the barrelman selected for ProRodeo’s super bowl, Harrison’s job was to man the specially made steel keg as an extra piece of protection for bull riders, bullfighters and just about anybody else inside the Thomas & Mack Center’s arena at the time.

“It’s an awesome feeling for me and my family because it’s a position that’s voted on by your peers,” said Harrison, who will serve as the barrelman, funnyman and entertainer during this year’s American Royal PRCA Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at Hale Arena.

John Harrison

John Harrison

“You feel it’s something you deserve. I’m tickled to death I got it. As a trick rider, I got to perform at the NFR three other times, but to be there every night and be part of the NFR personnel was just amazing.”

Harrison has been nominated as one of the best in the business for much of his clowning career. The Soper, Okla., cowboy joined the PRCA as a trick rider in 2001, then transitioned to clowning in 2008. The grandson of world champion bull rider Freckles Brown, rodeo always has been part of Harrison’s life. Being part of the NFR is just a big part of a family legacy that makes Harrison special.

“I love packing the barrel and being there for the cowboys, but I wasn’t there to be part of the entertainment,” Harrison said. “I didn’t get a microphone or anything I’m used to doing at a rodeo, but I’m glad I was selected to be there.”

He will be a big part of the entertainment that is the American Royal. In addition to hysterical acts that showcase Harrison’s talent and athleticism, the Oklahoma man serves as a valuable piece of the puzzle that helps make for a near-flawless performance each time he speaks.

“We’ve heard many great things about John and are very excited to have him part of our fall festival,” said Bob Petersen, president and CEO of the American Royal.

Until recently, Harrison traveled the rodeo circuit with his family: His wife, Carla, and their three children, Addison, Cazwell and Billie. Now that Addison is in school, the family outings take place less often; still, family is a big part of who the clown is in and out of the arena.

The key to his job is to reach fans with a variety of entertaining items. Whether it’s a trick riding display that will leave fans in awe or his parody of rodeo queens, Harrison has a lot of ammunition in his bag.

“The one thing I love about the American Royal Rodeo is that with three performances, I can do something fresh every time,” Harrison said. “I do this for the love of the sport. Growing up with it, you enjoy it. Now I can actually make a living at it, so that helps.”

While family is a big part of who Harrison is, he realizes that rodeo serves as a foster family of sorts.

“The friends and the ‘family’ you meet on the road is a big deal for us,” he said. “Plus if it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.”

Not only does he have fun, he brings a lot of it with him. That makes him the perfect fit for the American Royal Rodeo.

postheadericon Horse lovers enjoy the Challenge

STILLWATER, Okla. – Bill Stiffler saw the Colt Starting Challenge USA competitions as the perfect opportunity for his horse rescue operation.

Stiffler, president of Friends of Horses in Centennial, Colo., needed good trainers to work with the horses that are at his complex. He found the right people through the unique competition, which matches trainers with young horses that have had limited handling, had never been saddled nor bridled and needed, and needed the understanding of great horsemen and horsewomen.

It’s that very competition that will take place from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, and noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Oklahoma State University’s Animal Science Arena on the west edge of campus.

Bill Stiffler

Bill Stiffler

“When I first became aware of it, it came at an opportune time for me,” Stiffler said. “I had a number of younger horses that had never been started, some as old as 5 or 6 that nobody ever did anything with.

“Those horses don’t have very many options.”

Enter Russell and Cristy Beatty, who founded the Colt Starting Challenge USA. Competitions take place over two days and showcase some of the best trainers in the country. By the time the contest concludes on the second day, trainers will take their horses through a series of challenges to show just how far the animals come in a short time frame.

“I love it,” Stiffler said. “I think it’s very entertaining. When they first contacted me, it was to enter some horses, so I entered two. One had been turned out in a ranch next to an Indian reservation. The other came from an animal hoarder, and she was probably 4 or 5 years old and had never been touched.

“The guy that won the competition did so on her. I didn’t think there was ever any way they’d ever get to ride that mare, much less do what they did on her that second day.”

The trainers utilize natural horsemanship techniques, which utilize each animal’s natural instincts. Mike Major is a horse trainer now living in Texas, and he has served as a Colt Starting Challenge judge – each trainer receives markings by judges to decide the winners of each competition.

“The one thing about it is they give a lot of people an opportunity to get some recognition that would’ve never gotten it before on their ability to start colts and other things, too,” Major said. “The good thing, too, is that it gives the public some more awareness of other methods to start colts. I think that’s what everybody’s looking for: knowledge on how to do this without getting killed.”

This isn’t the old-school style of breaking horses to work under a saddle, whereby cowboys would saddle a young horse, then ride through the bucking and kicking in order to teach the animal to work. Natural horsemanship allows the horses the opportunity to understand its surroundings while gaining confidence.

“What you look for as a judge is for the trainer’s ease around horses, being comfortable and confident,” Major said. “The horse feeds off that. You also judge on the ability to accomplish what you need to accomplish.”

That’s what makes it exciting, not only for the contestants but also horse owners and those viewing from the audience.

“I’m an old-time trainer,” Stiffler said. “I have a cowboy, and I put a horse with him for 30 days, and that horse comes back dead broke. Now I’m looking to expedite the process. That’s what I enjoy, seeing them take a green horse and ride them through the event. They work the crowd, and they make it more interesting.

“I think for anyone who loves to see what horses can do, this is an opportunity for them to see something really special.”

postheadericon New challenge accepted

AMERICAN ROYAL TO CONDUCT FIRST BUSINESSMEN’S STEER CHALLENGE DURING RODEO

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The American Royal ProRodeo has found a new fan-favorite event.

The 2014 rodeo will feature the inaugural Businessmen’s Steer Challenge, which will have a preliminary round during the Friday, Sept. 26, performance of the American Royal ProRodeo at Hale Arena.

AmericanRoyalThe top two teams from Friday will then advance to the finale during the second performance, which will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, where they will be matched against a team from Bayer HealthCare Animal Health Division.

“This is going to be an exciting new event I think everyone will love,” said Mariner Kemper, chairman of the American Royal and participant in the challenge. “Friday night of the rodeo is corporate night, and what is a better way than having your colleagues cheer you on as you get an opportunity to show your cowboy skills. I think the audience will have a greater appreciation for the professional cowboys and how easy they make it look,”

The Businessmen’s Steer Challenge will feature 12 two-person teams. One will hold onto a lead rope attached to the steer, while the other ties a ribbon around the animal’s tail. The first team to complete the task and cross the finish line is the winner.

“I think everyone should come out and see the fun,” Kemper said. “Even I am going to compete; it will be a great event that I plan on winning.”

In addition to the Bayer HealthCare Animal Health Division and Kemper/Bichelmeyer teams, others will be sponsored by the BOTAR’s, Hilton Garden Inn, Kennedy & Cole LLC, Cerner Corp., Sprint, Livestock Marketing Association, Conway Farms, Raphael Group and Commerce Bank.

postheadericon Wards gunning for circuit titles

DUNCAN, Okla. – Andrew and Reagan Ward’s goal was simple from the start: Get to Duncan in October, then move on.

While the mindset was straightforward, the path was steeped with landmines. From roping competitors to tough-to-handle steers to long drives and little sleep, there have been many challenges in the 2014 season for the team roping brothers from Edmond, Okla.

ChisholmTrailRPCFThe Wards have secured the first step of their plan, qualifying for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-18 at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center in Duncan. The next step is to perform well in the arena and earn spots in the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will take place next spring in Ocala, Fla.

“What we’d really like to do is to make it to Florida,” said Reagan Ward, 27, the No. 1 heeler in the Prairie Circuit, the ProRodeo region made up of events and contestants primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. “I don’t care if we win the year-end or the circuit finals average, but the goal is to get to Florida.”

Only the year-end and average champions in each event qualify for the national championship, which will feature the top two contestants in each event from each of the 12 circuits nationwide.

“That’s why we go to rodeos; we’re trying to make it to Florida,” said Andrew, 24, who has virtually clinched the region’s heading year-end title. “We went to more circuit rodeos just trying to make it to Florida.

“You want to do good at the circuit finals. We’ve (finished) second in the average two years in a row and didn’t go to as many circuit rodeos as we did this year.”

The Wards have done quite well over the last few seasons, and this year is no exception with each earning more than $16,500 in circuit cash through labor Day. They won rodeos in Woodward, Okla.; Hastings, Neb.; and Topeka, Kan. They also fared well at big-money Kansas rodeos in Dodge City and Phillipsburg. Andrew owns a $5,700 lead over the No. 2 header, Troy Boone of Mutual, Okla.; Reagan’s lead is just $1,100 over Billie Saebens of Nowata, Okla.

“Getting to Duncan and giving us a chance to win the average is important for us,” Reagan said. “It’s just important that we go in there and catch three.”

The circuit finals features three go-rounds, and the team that posts the fastest three-run cumulative score will be crowned average champion. Each dollar counts, too, with the season’s top money-earners at the conclusion of the finale winning the year-end titles.

“We’re just trying to get better while competing in the circuit,” Andrew said. “That way you can stay closer to home and keep your money around while still rodeoing.”

What’s even better is that the siblings do it together.

“He’s really the only guy I’ve ever roped with,” Reagan said of his younger brother. “It’s still fun. We high school rodeoed together and college rodeoed together.

“I think one of the reasons we’ve been successful is because of the work we’ve put in together. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”

That assurance goes both ways.

“We really don’t know anything different,” Andrew said. “It’s fun when we win, because we’re winning double.”

The brothers are just two of the circuit standings leaders with about two weeks remaining in the 2014 season. Other leaders are bareback rider Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas; steer wrestler Cole Edge of Durant, Okla.; saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell of Boxholm, Iowa; barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek of Aubrey, Texas; tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla.; steer roper Chet Herren of Pawkhuska, Okla.; and bull rider Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla.

They’re all locked to compete during the finale in Duncan, a showcase of the greatest ProRodeo stars in the game aligned in one three-night championship.

Our Partners

RodeoMediaRelations

4BWebDesign

EverythingCowboy

Photos

twisTEDrodeoPhotos