Archive for July, 2015

postheadericon Circuit champs ready for big week

DUNCAN, Okla. – Next week’s run of rodeos is a vital time in the schedule of the Prairie Circuit’s top players.

ProRodeo cowboys and cowgirls call it the “Kansas Run,” because of the weeklong series of events that take place primarily in the Sunflower State. It’s a great opportunity for the sport’s stars to earn big paydays while competing at events that are within close proximity to one another. That includes those battling for the regional honors.

Billie Saebens

Billie Saebens

The “Kansas Run” is a vital cog for those hoping to qualify for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15-Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.

The biggest event in the region is Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, which is part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour and offers the largest purse among all events in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Also in Kansas are events in Hill City, Phillipsburg and Abilene, and a couple of other communities that border the Prairie Circuit also count their events toward the standings.

Gretchen Benbenek

Gretchen Benbenek

How important is the run that concludes the first weekend in August? Each of the nine year-end champions utilized those earnings to claim their crowns last season, with heeler Billie Saebens and barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek pulling in the largest sums. Saebens, who competed with header Adam Rose last season, won the title in Sidney, Iowa, and finished third in the three-run average in Dodge City. He pocketed $6,575.

Benbenek cashed checks at four stops; she finished fourth in Dodge City and placed in Abilene, Phillipsburg and Sidney to add $6,000. It helped to propel the Montana-born cowgirl to her second straight regional crown.

Steer wrestler Stockton Graves won Hill City and earned nearly $1,000, while bareback rider Caine Riddle shared the victory in Phillipsburg and placed in Abilene and Sidney to collect $2,784. Header Andrew Ward, roping with his brother, Reagan, finished fourth in Phillipsburg, earning $2,108, while tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger earned $2,176 in Hill City and Abilene.

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

Chet Herren took advantage of the only event of the week that held steer roping in Dodge City, placing in the second round to add a little more than $1,000, while bull rider Bart Miller won the first round and finished second in the average inside Roundup Arena to pocket $4,591.

Saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell posted the highest marked ride of the 2014 season with a 92 during the championship round in Dodge City to win the two-ride average championship; he also added money in Phillipsburg to deposit $4,600.

The week is filled with promise and opportunity, and last year’s winners need to capitalize again if they hope to return to the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo and have a chance to defend their titles.

It should be worth it for fans, too.

postheadericon Champion scores 90 on Dirty Jacket

Richmond Champion and Pete Carr Pro Rodeo's Dirty Jacket match moves for the fifth-round victory at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals. The tandem matched Thursday night for the third time in less than a year and posted a 90-point ride Wednesday night in Eagle, Colo. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

Richmond Champion and Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket match moves for the fifth-round victory at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals. The tandem matched Thursday night for the third time in less than a year and posted a 90-point ride Wednesday night in Eagle, Colo. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

EAGLE, Colo. – Richmond Champion knows what it’s like to be on the perfect joyride.

“The only bad thing is when you get the whistle, you don’t want to stop,” said Champion, a 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from The Woodlands, Texas.

He’s talking about matching moves with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket. On Wednesday night, the tandem met again during the first performance of the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo; they danced across the Johnette Phillips Arena dirt for 90 points to take the early lead in bareback riding.

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

It marked the third matchup in less than a year for Champion and Dirty Jacket, the 2014 Bareback Horse of the Year; Champion won the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo last July after a 91-point ride on Dirty Jacket, then won the fifth go-round at the 2014 NFR on the 11-year-old bay gelding.

“It’s been a heck of a year so far,” said Champion, who is ranked 42nd in the world standings and needs a big push through the remaining weeks of the 2015 season if he’s going to return to Las Vegas for ProRodeo’s finale. “I was so excited. It was the first one I’ve drawn this year that I’ve jumped out of the van and went for a run.

“he horses buck up here in Eagle. The cool weather and the mountains make it awesome.”

It marked the fourth time this season that Dirty Jacket has been at least 90 points: He matched moves with Jessy Davis for 93 points at the San Angelo Cinch Shootout in February. Dirty Jacket posted 90 points in Weatherford, Texas in June, and two weeks later posted a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association best 92-point ride in Pecos, Texas.

“He looked awesome and felt outstanding,” Champion said of the horse. “He’s definitely one of a kind. I felt good. Regardless if that score holds up to win, it always feels good to be 90 and make a good ride.”

Through the struggles that have been Champion’s season, he continues to battle through the roller coaster that is ProRodeo. He said traveling with four-time world champion Kaycee Feild, NFR-qualifier Davis and Mason Clements has helped a ton, but there’s a lot more to bareback riding. On a 100-point scale, half the points are awarded to the cowboy, with the other coming from the horse.

Getting the right horse at the right time makes a big difference. The Texas cowboy hasn’t had as many opportunities this season as he did in 2014.

“Things have progressively been getting better now regarding my riding,” Champion said. “I’ve got a new riggin’ and a new pad, and I’m going out of my way to set myself up for success. My drawing good horses is picking up, too.

“Of course, having Dirty Jacket will help turn your whole world around. There’s literally not another horse like him.”

postheadericon Daily shows provide variety to fair

Conjurer Robert Smith will be one of the featured daily entertainers at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington, N.M. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Conjurer Robert Smith will be one of the featured daily entertainers at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington, N.M. (COURTESY PHOTO)

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The versatility of daily entertainers is a big reason the Lea County Fair and Rodeo has been attractive spot for longtime attendees.

This year’s lineup is no different. From conjurer Robert Smith to The Great Bear Show, fairgoers will have the opportunity to experience a little bit of Hollywood magic and an inspiring tribute to some of the world’s most majestic animals during this year’s exposition, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.

Lea County Fair Logo“I think the daily entertainers gives people a broader spectrum to our fair and rodeo,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “Everyone knows there’s going to be the concerts, the rodeo and the carnival, but this adds a variety to what’s out there.”

The Great Bear Show features cubs that were adopted through either state wildlife agencies or the United States Department of Agriculture, who contact show organizers to find the young bears a home.

The Great Bear Show staff takes the cubs in, trains them to be handled safely and try to find them good homes in licensed centers that have room.

“We also take them on the road to events to educate the public about bears in the wind and captivity,” stated information from the show’s website.

Smith’s conjurer persona was inspired by the coin-operated fortune-teller machines but features a new twist. Imagine the Tom Hanks movie “Big,” in which young Josh makes a wish to be big, which led to Hanks’ classic portrayal of a boy in a man’s body.

The entertainers are set up to be the perfect fit for families and other fair-goers who enjoy the overall fair experience that comes with the reasonable ticket prices – admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children daily.

“What we want with our daily entertainment is for people to have something new and different, and we’re definitely getting that this year,” Helton said. “I’m excited to see it myself and to hear what others have to say about these acts.”

postheadericon Roundup a key stop for rodeo’s best

Trevor Brazile, the most decorated cowboy in ProRodeo history with a record 21 world championships, typically competes in all of his disciplines at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He owns world titles in tie-down roping, heading, steer roping and the all-around. He is one of numerous gold buckle winners that compete annually at Roundup Rodeo.

Trevor Brazile, the most decorated cowboy in ProRodeo history with a record 21 world championships, typically competes in all of his disciplines at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He owns world titles in tie-down roping, heading, steer roping and the all-around. He is one of numerous gold buckle winners that compete annually at Roundup Rodeo.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – When most people think of Dodge City, they conjure up images of the Old West and Matt Dillon.

Rodeo folks look at the western Kansas community of nearly 28,000 as the home of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, an important roadway as an important path on the rodeo trail. This year’s event is set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 29-Sunday, Aug. 2, at Roundup Arena.

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

“This rodeo has helped a lot of people make the finals and win the world,” said Wade Sundell, the reigning Roundup saddle bronc riding champion. “I’ve always wanted to do good at this rodeo.”

Until 2014, the Iowa-born cowboy had just about anything but success inside Roundup Arena.

“I’ve done bad at it every year,” said Sundell, a six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Coleman, Okla., who posted a 92-point ride in the championship round to win the two-ride aggregate and earn more than $4,000. “This is awesome to win it.”

Roundup is one of just 18 events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association that has a championship round. That says a lot considering there are more than 600 ProRodeo events in a given year.

Christine Laughlin

Christine Laughlin

Sundell was one of 12 contestants who won titles at the 2014 Roundup Rodeo. Barrel racer Christine Laughlin of Pueblo, Colo., had the biggest earnings of all, pocketing just shy of $8,000 by placing in all three go-rounds – she won the first round and final rounds and finished fifth in the second.

“I had my hopes high when I went back last year, because Sabrina (Ketcham) had won that year and barely beat me,” said Laughlin, who qualified for the NFR and finished the campaign 14th in the world standings. “That’s one of those big rodeos that you’re really excited with you win that buckle. It felt just as prestigious as any other because it was Dodge City. It’s a pretty neat deal.

“That committee tried really hard, because the conditions with all the rain and mud weren’t ideal. Hats off to the grounds crew; they did an awesome job.”

She was one 10 winners in 2014 to have qualified for the NFR. In fact, just steer roper Tyrel Taton and steer wrestler Timmy Sparing – who shared the title with Bray Armes and K.C. Jones – have not finished any season among the top 15 in the world standings.

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

Of the remaining reigning champions, only all-around winner Landon McClaugherty failed to qualify for either the NFR or the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping last season. All the rest of the cowboys were part of the elite field in Las Vegas this past December:

  • Bareback rider Richmond Champion parlayed his $5,191 in Dodge City with his first qualification. He finished third in the final world standings.
  • Steer wrestlers Armes, a three-time NFR qualifier and the 2013 average champion, and Jones, an eight-time NFR qualifier, found themselves solidly in the top 10 by the time they got to Las Vegas.
  • Team ropers Kaleb Driggers, a four-time qualifier, and Patrick Smith, an 11-time finalist and two-time world champion heeler, placed in five NFR go-rounds and finished among the top 10 in the final world standings. They won more than $6,600 in Ford County last August.
  • Tie-down roper Cody Ohl, a six-time world champ with 20 NFR appearances, earned $4,451 in Dodge City and finished the year ranked fourth in the world standings with nearly $150,000.
  • Bull rider J.W. Harris, a four-time champion nine-time NFR qualifier, was the only cowboy to ride two bulls. He won $5,462 and finished 2014 with nearly $110,000.

“Every year, we get the top cowboys and cowgirls in the game,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the Roundup committee. “We are always excited to have world champions win a Roundup buckle. We do everything we can to make sure they keep coming back to Dodge City.”

postheadericon Work on local fair is a labor of love

LOVINGTON, N.M. – It takes a small army to handle even the tiniest of details that come with producing a large event.

“We’re blessed that we have a strong core group of volunteers who donate their time and energy to our fair and rodeo and also have the county staff that makes a lot happen,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the board that organizes the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington.

Lea County Fair LogoFrom set-up to take-down to everything in between, it takes a crew of dedicated people to make sure every aspect of the exposition is covered.

“We have a countless number of people who help us every year,” Helton said. “This fair wouldn’t be able to function without the volunteers. That’s how important they are to the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.”

Most of the work is done behind the scenes, and the average fairgoer will never comprehend the amount of labor that goes into each activity. That’s done for a reason, and it’s been that way for all 80 years of the local fair.

“For the livestock shows, each animal species has its own superintendent,” Helton said. “Each one is in charge of that species of animal at the fair, so it’s very important.

“I can’t even estimate how many man-hours are involved, especially when you add in the year leading up to the fair. We often forget about all the hours of volunteer work before the fair even gets here, much less during fair week.”

In Lovington, though, it goes well beyond those who donate all that time and their own talents. There are Lea County staff members that also handle a good portion of the heavy lifting. The fair is underwritten by the Lea County Commission, so staff members take care of numerous aspects of getting everything ready.

“The reality for our fair and rodeo is that we have some great people who do outstanding work to make it all happen,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We couldn’t do any of our work without Jim Kemp.”

Kemp works in the facilities department for the county. He oversees much of the work at Jake McClure Arena, among other aspects of his job. He also takes care of the arena dirt to make sure the ground conditions are in the best shape possible for the competition.

“Jim takes a lot of pride in our rodeo, and he has reason to,” Massey said. “He works tirelessly to make it as close to perfect as he can.”

That kind of community effort makes for an incredible experience for anyone attending the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

postheadericon Elite cowboys crave Carr livestock

DALLAS – World-class cowboys crave the opportunities to be matched with world-class bucking animals.

They get that with the athletic buckers from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22-Saturday, July 25, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

Luke Creasy

Luke Creasy

“I think Pete’s just tried to fortify a herd of animals that a guy has a chance to win on,” said Luke Creasy, a top-10 bareback rider from Lovington, N.M. “With a lot of horses he has, you have a chance to be 90 on a horse any day of the week at his rodeo. That’s important when we’re rodeoing.”

Creasy knows. In June, the Alberta-born cowboy matched moves with Carr’s Night Bells for 90 points to split the victory in Weatherford, Texas, with Winn Ratliff, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who rodeo Dirty Jacket to share the title.

They are two of four bareback riders that have been marked at least 90 points in 2015, joining Jessy Davis and Ryan Gray. Davis, a six-time NFR qualifier, was 93 points on Dirty Jacket to win the Cinch Shootout in San Angelo, Texas, in January; Gray, an eight-time finalist, was 92 points to win in Pecos, Texas, in late June.

Winn Ratliff

Winn Ratliff

But those weren’t the only rides in the 90s on Carr animals so far this year. A trio of bull riders also hit that magic mark in June: Caleb Robinson rode Vegas and Cameron Bland rode Salty Dog for 90 points to share the victory in Weatherford, while Scottie Knapp scored 93 points on Half Nutz.

“When you go to Pete’s rodeos, you know you’re going to have a shot to win first,” said Ratliff, who also added victories at Carr events in Nacogdoches, Texas, and Crosby, Texas. “You have to do your part and ride good, but if you do your job, you’re going to have the opportunity to win the rodeo.”

Gray has two big victories on Carr animals this season. It’s one of the reasons he’s among the top 15 in the world standings with just weeks remaining in the 2015 campaign – only the top 15 at the end of the regular season qualify for the NFR. In addition to the Pecos victory, Gray followed that a week later with an 89-point ride on Carr’s Outa Sight to win in Window Rock, Ariz.

Ryan Gray

Ryan Gray

“I love going to Pete’s rodeos because he’s got great horses,” Gray said. “You want to have the opportunity to be a lot of points, and he’s got the horses that you can. I love going to his rodeos and having that opportunity every time.”

The Carr herd includes about 100 of the best bucking animals in the world. In both the 2013-14 seasons, 27 Carr animals were selected to perform at the NFR; that’s a record of animals coming from one contractor.

“I just think it’s a phenomenal herd, and you have a good opportunity to win any time when you draw the top animals,” Ratliff said, pointing great buckers like Dirty Jacket, Night Bells, Outa Sight, Half Nutz, Big Tex, Spur Strap, Good Time Charlie, Scarlet’s Web, Footloose and a host of other top animal athletes. “When you have your name next to theirs, it makes rodeoing a lot easier.”

That’s why Carr-produced rodeos are sought after by the game’s top cowboys.

postheadericon Xtreme Bulls key for top cowboys

DODGE CITY, Kan. – In any sport, momentum can be the key between success and failure.

The pendulum can swing in either direction. When it’s heading in the positive direction, great things can happen.

Bull rider Tim Bingham felt that last summer in his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It all began at the Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls competition, where Bingham rode two bulls and earned the event title. He carried that momentum and found himself playing on the sport’s biggest stage in Las Vegas this past December.

Tim Bingham

Tim Bingham

“It set me off on the right foot,” said Bingham, 23, of Honeyville, Utah. “That was my first one for that little run as the week went on. It set me up to make a really good run in the end.”

He will try to defend that title during this year’s Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at Roundup Arena. He needs all the help he can get if he hopes to return to the NFR in a little more than four months, but he has a good idea of what can happen in a short amount of time.

Starting with Xtreme Bulls in Dodge City, Bingham placed that same week in Abilene, Kan., and Sidney, Iowa. A week later in Lovington, N.M., the Utah cowboy won both rounds and the overall championship at the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. In just eight days, he earned $18,293; more than $5,200 came in western Kansas.

“I drew two really good bulls, Centerfold and Swamp Dog,” he said of his Dodge City victory. “I knew as long as I stayed on, they’d do their part. I’ve never seen any one of those bulls have a bad trip.”

It worked out quite well. Bingham finished the regular season with more than $85,000 in earnings. He then added another $30,000 at the NFR to have his best season ever. He began the 2015 campaign with a bang by winning the rodeo in Billings, Mont., then suffered a severe injury at a bull riding in January.

“I broke my left leg and ankle, and I had to have a plate and five screws put in,” he said. “I broke my right foot in three spots. I also broke my right elbow and had to get a long rod in my elbow down to my forearm.”

But his cowboy mentality kept him on the sidelines for just four months. He returned in May in time to win the Helldorado Days Rodeo in Las Vegas.

“Things haven’t gone too hot since,” Bingham said. “Right off the bat, I thought it would be OK, but it’s been pretty slow.”

As of mid-July, Bingham sits outside the top 50 in the world standings. He’s a long ways from earning a spot at the NFR – only the top 15 contestants in each event at the end of the regular season qualify for the finale.

“I haven’t stressed about it one time, because I know how the last couple of months play the biggest role in rodeo,” he said. “I’m positive. I’m still visualizing making the NFR. There are plenty of bulls and time to get there. I’m still planning on getting there.”

Dodge City Xtreme Bulls features a night of strictly bull riding. The Roundup committee has done everything possible to ensure the top players in the game will be on hand for the competition by coming up with sponsorship dollars. That money, combined with the cowboys’ entry fees, will make up a hefty purse.

“We’ve been very pleased with Xtreme Bulls,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We want our fans to see the top bull riders rodeo, and they know they’re going to get that on Tuesday night.”

For the cowboys, Xtreme Bulls is a major part of each rodeo season.

“It’s very important, because they pay good and it’s just bull riding,” Bingham said. “In the money I won last year, $20,000 came in the Xtreme Bulls. It made a big difference to my standings and placing in the world.

“When it comes down to it, consistency lays a big roll. If a guy can get hot and stay hot, a lot of things can happen. If you can get on that roll, it can be easy for you. Nobody knows how it clicks and how it doesn’t. If a guy could figure out the difference, they’d win the world every time. It’s nice when it comes around, that’s for sure.”

Dodge City’s a good place to get that roll started.

postheadericon Eagle is the picture of a wild rodeo

The action inside the Eagle County Fairgrounds is amazing, thanks in large part to the great animal athletes from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

The action inside the Eagle County Fairgrounds is amazing, thanks in large part to the great animal athletes from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

EAGLE, Colo. – The Eagle County Fairgrounds is the perfect setting for some of the most wild rodeo action ever seen in Colorado.

It’s home to the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22-Saturday, July 25, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains, it’s as picturesque as any event in ProRodeo and a regular showcase for the world’s greatest stars.

That’s thanks in large part to the local hospitality and the production and bucking stock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the longstanding stock contractor in Eagle.

“I believe what makes our rodeo special is the people in this community and the support they give us,” said Tanya Dahlseid, a key member of the Eagle County staff. “I also think Pete Carr and his staff have made it so amazing with the quality and level of the performances. We get compliments from all over about our rodeo.”

The Carr firm has been recognized as one of the very best in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, having been nominated as Stock Contractor of the Year each of the past two seasons. The cowboys like the Carr animal athletes so much, they’ve selected 27 to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, a record for animals from one stock contractor at ProRodeo’s grand finale.

“When I hear the name Pete Carr, I think of something spectacular and very professional,” Dahlseid said. “The whole group of Pete’s staff that comes is great; it’s an honor to have them here. I express that to a lot of people in the county.

“We’re very fortunate to have Pete Carr.”

A number of the top cowboys in the game agree. Six seasons ago, eight-time NFR qualifier Ryan Gray tied the world record with a 94-point ride on Carr’s Grass Dancer. A few weeks ago, Gray matched moves with reigning Bareback Horse of the Year Dirty Jacket for 92 points to win in Pecos, Texas; it was the highest marked ride so far in 2015.

But the mountain air makes for amazing feats. Four-time world champion Bobby Mote was 90 points to win the Eagle bareback riding title on Betty Boop. High scores seem to be the norm inside Johnette Phillips Arena.

“It’s pretty incredible to see these animals when they’re here,” Dahlseid said. “Pete has incredible horses and bulls, and his staff is pretty impressive and amazing, too. It brings a whole different level of professionalism to our event.”

This year’s rodeo will feature clown Brian Potter and Mustang Millionaire winner Bobby Kerr, whose work with wild mustangs has become a showcase of true horsemanship skills and the mindset of horses. Together, Potter and Kerr are a major piece of the entertainment package.

It all adds up to a great event for local fans and those who make their way to Eagle County as a summer vacation destination.

postheadericon Carr team a big part of fair & rodeo

World champion bull rider Wesley Silcox watches the action as he prepares to ride at a recent Lea County Fair and Rodeo. Many of the top-named contestants find their way to Lovington, N.M., every August because of the top stock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

World champion bull rider Wesley Silcox watches the action as he prepares to ride at a recent Lea County Fair and Rodeo. Many of the top-named contestants find their way to Lovington, N.M., every August because of the top stock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Fans in Lea County know what it takes to make a good rodeo.

They’re used to seeing it every year at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8, at Jake McClure Arena. Throw in the Lea County Xtreme Bulls at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, and it’s five nights of world-class rodeo action.

The volunteer committee works hard to make sure fans see the greatest show possible, and that includes the production and animal athletes from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary livestock producer in Lovington.

Lea County Fair Logo“When we decided on the Xtreme Bulls, we did so while working with Pete Carr to make sure it was what our fans would expect and appreciate,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “Like any typical Pete Carr event, he goes above and beyond what he promises to deliver. He’s particular about the kind of show he puts on. He wants it to be the absolute best it can be. He’ll go wherever he needs to go to get the kind of stock he needs for our event.

“I don’t think other contractors take the personal interest in the event like Pete does … not only Pete but his personnel. They are very concerned that the committee is happy and they’re doing what we want them to do.”

The Carr firm includes many of the top animals in the game, including Dirty Jacket, the reigning Bareback Horse of the Year that has finished among the top three in voting each of the past three seasons. Over the past two years, 27 Carr animals have been selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale.

“Pete Carr has the bucking horses and bulls that are unreal,” said bareback rider Clint Cannon, a four-time NFR qualifier from Waller, Texas. “When I think about Pete Carr, I think about 90-point rides, rock ’n’ roll music and fans loving it.”

But there’s more to the rodeo than bucking stock. It takes a professional production to showcase an award-winning event like the Lea County Fair and Rodeo in a timely fashion so that fairgoers have the opportunity to enjoy other aspects of the exposition.

“We try to have the theatrical portion of our show not interfere with the competition side,” said John Gwatney, a production supervisor for the Dallas-based livestock firm. “We try to run a good, fast, clean performance without interfering with the competition.

“That’s where we’re different from other rodeo companies. If we’re not ready, the cowboy has to wait. When it comes time for that cowboy to compete, we’ve done everything we can to make that animal ready for that cowboy, so all he has to do is nod his head.”

When mixed with great contestants, a knowledgeable fan base in Lea County and a strong connection with the fair board and rodeo committee, it makes for an incredible experience for everyone involved.

“Pete Carr puts on a great rodeo,” said Sage Kimzey, the reigning world champion bull rider. “I’m thankful he loves the sport of rodeo so much and wants it to be so great.”

It shows in the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

postheadericon Branch excited for Lea County fair

LOVINGTON, N.M. – As fairgoers are making plans for the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, the staffs at the Tate Branch Auto Group dealerships in Hobbs, Carlsbad and Artesia are making plans themselves.

In addition to being the presenting sponsor for the annual exposition, the Tate Branch team has numerous plans scheduled during the nine-day fair, scheduled for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.

Lea County Fair Logo“We are having our second annual ‘All RAM No Bull’ off-site sale in Lovington that week,” said Joby Houghtaling, chief managing officer for the auto group. “On the last day of the fair and rodeo, we will have a major blowout with lots of prizes to be given away, including a Sea Doo boat as the grand prize at our off-site sale.”

The many pieces have all come together to mark the 80th anniversary of the fair and rodeo, which has been recognized as one of the largest expos in the region. Fairgoers from all across New Mexico and Texas may their way to Lovington every August to take in all the events, including top-named concerts, carnival, livestock shows, daily entertainers and one of the top rodeos in the country.

A big part of the event’s success is because of the community support from a variety of local sponsors, and Tate Branch Auto Group is the largest.

“I feel like I’m very, very blessed,” said Tate Branch, the auto group’s owner. “I feel like I’m in a position that God has blessed me, and this is one way I could give back.”

It’s because of the relationship between the dealerships and the fair that there is such a wide variety of activities that take place in Lea County that week.

In addition, the Tate Branch Auto Group also sponsors several levels of rodeo, including seven top cowboys: tie-down roping brothers Clif and Clint Cooper and their legendary father, Roy Cooper; steer roper Marty Jones; and team roping twins Jake and Jim Ross Cooper; and two-time world champion saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy.

“We’re going to have one of the area’s top radio station doing a morning show on site at our sale Tuesday-Friday of fair week, and we are going to try to have all the ‘Riding for the Brand’ cowboys at the morning shows. We plan to have them be available for autographs and pictures with the public.”

Those appearances are one aspect of reaching out and giving back to consumers that sets the Tate Branch Auto Group apart from most dealerships. Houghtaling, Branch and the rest of the staff realize that there is something special happening at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo and want everyone to enjoy all the festivities.

“We have always believed with the three dealerships that there is an importance to being involved in the community and giving back to the community,” said Branch, who, like Houghtaling, grew up in southeastern New Mexico. “We are very family oriented and community oriented.”

It rings true every August.

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