Archive for July, 2016

postheadericon It’s a hit at home for Wall

Zach Flatt attempts to jump a bull during a recent Bullfighters Only contest. Flatt will be one of the featured bullfighters that will be part of the BFO competition that takes place in conjunction with the Kit Carson County ProRodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Zach Flatt attempts to jump a bull during a recent Bullfighters Only contest. Flatt will be one of the featured bullfighters that will be part of the BFO competition that takes place in conjunction with the Kit Carson County ProRodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Retired bullfighter teams with BFO to produce event at his hometown rodeo

BURLINGTON, Colo. – Even though he has retired before his title now, Cory Wall will forever be a bullfighter.

These days, though, his focus is closer to home. He’s added a few more titles to his name: Kit Carson County Commissioner, rodeo producer, husband and dad. They all matter to the Burlington man, and he puts them all together with the Kit Carson County ProRodeo.

Cory Wall

Cory Wall

He introduced freestyle bullfighting to the hometown crowd four summers ago, and this year he is teaming with Bullfighters Only to put on a tour event, set for Friday, July 29, in Burlington.

“As a bullfighter, I’ve always felt like what I did and what other bullfighters did was something you don’t see at every other rodeo,” said Wall, the 2009 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Bullfighter of the Year. “I knew that most of the people in my community had not seen what we could do.

“I wanted to bring in some different kind of entertainment than they were used to. Needless to say, it’s been a home run, and it’s been one of the most talked about things all year long.”

That appeal is the guiding force for Bullfighters Only, which is in its inaugural season. Bullfighters utilize their tremendous athleticism to try to outwit and outmaneuver equally athletic bulls, which are bred specifically for this type of fight.

“I helped the BFO out in Vegas last December, and it looked like they had their stuff together,” Wall said. “They’re doing a great job of marketing and advertising and really selling that industry.

“I was contacted by the BFO wanting to know if I’d consider being a BFO event. I know most of those guys, and I thought it would be a great fit.”

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

All those things are attractive to the men who do this for a living.

“There is no other feeling that I’ve ever felt in my life than when I threw a fake, and this bull fell down right at my feet,” said Zach Flatt of Fittstown, Okla. “You feel like you can conquer the world.”

Flatt will be one of five bullfighters that will compete for the Kit Carson County ProRodeo Bullfighters Only title. Burlington is the 17th of 30 regular-season stops for the elite group of men who make up the BFO.

“It’s not just a group of bullfighters, and it’s not just a group of people wanting to put on a bullfight,” he said. “It’s a group of elite bullfighters wanting to team up and put this bullfight on and make it a showcase. Bullfighters Only literally has all the top guys in freestyle bullfighting.”

In fact, that’s what Wall liked most about having the BFO be part of his hometown event.

“I think they’re taking freestyle bullfighting to a new level,” Wall said. “You’ve got a bunch of young athletes that are spending time with each other day in and day out, and they’re challenging each other. They spend the whole week trying to outdo each other. By the time they get to an event, they’re doing some bizarre things, some incredibly athletic things.”

Flatt has showcased his talent before the Burlington crowd before, and he’s excited to make his return.

“I went to his bullfight two years ago, and it treated me really good,” he said. “It was a great rodeo and a great crowd, and it was an outstanding bullfight.

“It’s always great to be around somebody like Cory Wall. I’m sure he will be in the (ProRodeo) Hall of Fame for all he’s done. It’s always great to surround yourself with people like that.”

That’s just what Bullfighters Only is all about, and fans in Burlington will reap the rewards.

BURLINGTON CONTESTANTS
Cody Emerson
Kyle Lippincott
Ross Johnson
Tanner Zarnetski
Zach Flatt

postheadericon Edwards finds a home at Roundup

Pickup man Josh Edwards has been a fixture at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He returns to work all six nights of this year's event, from the A Whole Lotta Bull on Tuesday, Aug. 2, to the five nights of world-class rodeo action that follow.

Pickup man Josh Edwards has been a fixture at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He returns to work all six nights of this year’s event, from the A Whole Lotta Bull on Tuesday, Aug. 2, to the five nights of world-class rodeo action that follow.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Josh Edwards has movie star looks and a Hollywood swagger.

That’s served him well in his multifaceted career. Not only is Edwards considered one of best pickup men in ProRodeo, he also is a stuntman who owns his Screen Actors Guild card.

Yes, he’s been in the movies. His IMDB biography lists seven credits, including work on the Robert Duvall movie “Seven Days in Utopia.” He’s actually done a couple of stints on the CBS-TV series “Zoo.”

Most of the time, Edwards serves as a bucking-horse wrangler and all-around cowboy inside rodeo arenas all across the country. In fact, he will be one of the men on horseback throughout every performance of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2-Sunday, Aug. 7, at Roundup Arena.

“This would be my sixth year working in Dodge City,” said Edwards, an athletic Texan that enjoys his many roles life has to offer. “I’m very fortunate to have more than a couple of very prestigious rodeos that I get to be part of, and Dodge City is one of them. I love going there for many reasons, not just the prestige and nature of the event.

“I’ve gotten to meet multiple people on the committee, and when you show up in Dodge City, it’s like you never left.”

One thing cowboys love about Roundup Rodeo is the hometown feel. Rodeo cowboys – even those that work on site for the week of the event – are nomads who travel the rodeo trail to make a living. Edwards lives much of his year in an elaborate horse trailer that has been outfitted with living quarters.

He makes Roundup Arena his home for a week, then moves on to the next rodeo. That’s why having the comforts of home is so important to him.

“In my personal opinion, it’s not the rodeo that’s special in Dodge City,” he said. “When you do it every week, the rodeos are the same. It’s the same contestants, the same stock.

“What delineates Dodge City from the other rodeos is the people. It’s got a long history, and Harry Vold has had the stock there longer than I’ve been alive, so there’s a lot of history there.”

Rodeo is full of history, from cowboys “taming” the Old West and playing around on days off to the creation of community celebrations nationwide. For more than a century, cowboys have made their way to historic venues. Edwards is no different.

“There is a lot of history to a lot of the rodeos I’ve gone to, like Dodge City, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth (Texas), Cheyenne (Wyo.),” Edwards said. “I’ve been to many of the biggest rodeos, but really it goes back to the people and the relationships you create at those events.

“That’s what means the most to me.”

Josh Edwards has helped Hollywood tell several stories. Maybe one needs to be done on him, co-starring Roundup Rodeo.

postheadericon PBR hits Guymon this Saturday

GUYMON, Okla. – As many have learned over the years, this community of about 12,000 is a rodeo town.

Kasey Hayes

Kasey Hayes

From the ranchlands across the region to the nationally recognized rodeo team at Oklahoma Panhandle State University just 10 miles away to having the ProRodeo Hall of Fame Pioneer Days Rodeo each May, being a cowboy is a way of life for many.

It takes great community support to have an event of such caliber, but Guymon takes it one step further; volunteers work hard every summer to produce the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate; children 5 and younger are free.

Stormy Wing

Stormy Wing

D&H Cattle Co. of Dickson, Okla., will be the primary stock contractor for Saturday night, but she expects others bull owners to be in town with their top bulls. That includes Cord McCoy, a retired bull rider and star of the TV reality series “The Amazing Race.”

“Cord’s going to be our chute boss, and we’re going to have Frank Newsome as one of our bullfighters,” Webb said.

All have been major players in the PBR over the years, and they are another reason the Guymon PBR is a big-time stop on tour. Half the 2015 field also was part of the Built Ford Tough Series, the PBR’s premier tour.

It’s expected to be the same this weekend. The cowboys have made it a point to be part of the action inside Hitch Arena. From hospitality to great sponsors, it all plays into the mix for the best bull riders in the world.

There will be plenty of action. There always is at the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational.

postheadericon Salinas, BFO team up for this year’s championship

Weston Rutkowski jumps a bull during a recent Bullfighters Only event. Rutkowski will be one of six men that will be part of California Rodeo Salinas' BFO event that takes place Thursday-Sunday. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Weston Rutkowski jumps a bull during a recent Bullfighters Only event. Rutkowski will be one of six men that will be part of California Rodeo Salinas’ BFO event that takes place Thursday-Sunday. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

SALINAS, Calif. – Ask any freestyle bullfighter that’s ever been to this beautiful California city, they will tell you what a special place it is.

For more than a century, California Rodeo Salinas has been a staple in this community of 155,000 people. For decades, bullfighting has been a key fixture to the traditional showcase, and tens of thousands of fans show up every year for all the excitement.

Nathan Harp

Nathan Harp

“Salinas has kept freestyle bullfighting alive,” said Nathan Harp of Tuttle, Okla., pointing out that major tours for the sport had been dormant for 16 years; still California Rodeo Salinas continue to conduct the events. “That crowd is hard to beat, and that place is so cool.

“After the bull riding, everything shuts down and everybody goes to the grandstands. They have fireworks, and then they have the bullfight. It’s a big deal. It’s really great to be part of the bullfights in Salinas. It’s definitely one I want to win.”

He and five other men will get that chance when the Bullfighters Only produces this year’s championship event, part of its inaugural tour. The bullfight will take place Thursday-Sunday.

“California Rodeo Salinas is happy to work with BFO in our 2016 show,” said Henry Dill, the rodeo’s track director. “California is very proud of our freestyle bullfighting event – considered one of the premier freestyle bullfighting event in the rodeo industry – and in working with BFO.

“We hope to grow the sport and fan base of freestyle bullfighting.”

So is Bullfighters Only, which features the best bullfighters in the world in man-vs.-beast bouts.

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

Ross Hill

Ross Hill

Bullfighters Only has created public demand for the sport. The bullfighters utilize their tremendous athleticism to try to outwit and outmaneuver equally athletic bulls, which are bred specifically for this type of fight.

In west-central California, the folks in Salinas have a better understanding than most what a great showcase freestyle bullfighting is.

“There are a lot of Portuguese people out there, and bullfighting has a huge following because of that,” said Ross Hill of Muscle Schoals, Ala., now in his 10th year competing in Salinas. “Salinas set their stone a long time ago. There’s an atmosphere there around the bullfights.

“They can fit 24,000 people in their stands. It’s huge and crazy.”

There are many reasons why freestyle bullfighting has been so popular in Salinas, but the main ingredients are athleticism mixed with a splash of suspense and danger. It’s better than an evening at the movies.

“That place is just full of world champions that have camped there, like Evan Allard, Cody Webster and Rob Smets,” Harp said. “It’s the place where champions go.”

SALINAS CONTESTANTS
Weston Rutkowski
Nathan Harp
Cody Emerson
Erick Schwindt
Ross Hill
Donny Castle

postheadericon Carr a good fit for Lovington rodeo

Two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Brian Bain gets ready to ride his Pete Carr Pro Rodeo horse during bareback riding at a recent Lea County Fair and Rodeo. Having Carr as the stock contractor has been an attractive feature for Lovington's rodeo.

Two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Brian Bain gets ready to ride his Pete Carr Pro Rodeo horse during bareback riding at a recent Lea County Fair and Rodeo. Having Carr as the stock contractor has been an attractive feature for Lovington’s rodeo.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Fans that make their way to this southeastern New Mexico community have come to expect great things with the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

Those fans are knowledgeable and understand exactly what a great rodeo looks like. More importantly they see it every August when the sport’s brightest stars are part of the brilliant competition and family-friendly entertainment. This year’s marquee event is for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13, at Jake McClure Arena in Lovington.

With the inclusion of the Lea County Xtreme Bulls on Tuesday, Aug. 9, there are five nights of world-class action inside the Lea County Fairgrounds. Much of that has to do with a strong community effort teamed with the team from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer that has been part of the event for the past decade.

“I almost feel like with the Lovington ProRodeo that it’s like being associated with a celebrity,” said Kenyon Burns, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board’s rodeo committee. “We’ve got the best of the business at our rodeo. You’re going to get the pick of the litter to come to your rodeo. Lovington has developed that name.

“To have that behind you makes you proud. I’m from Lovington, N.M., and we have one of the best rodeos in the country. A lot of what makes our rodeo so great is Pete Carr and his team.”

The Carr firm has been recognized as one of the best in the sport, a regular nominee for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Stock Contractor of the Year. Over the last three years, no other stock contractor has had more animals selected to perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo than Carr.

Atop the list of those is Dirty Jacket, a 12-year-old bay gelding that has been named the Bareback Horse of the Year each of the past two seasons. The powerful and electric horse also has been voted as one of the top three horses for four years straight. But he’s just one of dozens of great animal athletes that will be in Lovington for the exposition.

That type of talent will be matched with the top cowboys in the game. Burns, a longtime PRCA contestant with two qualifications to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, understands the importance of great animal athletes and top-notch production to keep rodeo fans excited.

“The biggest thing with Pete Carr is the professionalism he and his staff bring to our rodeo,” Burns said. “I’ve watched his productions, and I’ve been to a few of his rodeos. He makes sure everything stays at a fast pace. He makes sure we don’t see any downtime. He has all the guys that are shining like a diamond, and they’re putting on a show.

“This guy is putting on a show, one you’d go to a theater to see. It’s a rodeo musical. Fans around here want to see an exciting show, and Pete makes sure they do.”

postheadericon Bullfight added to Roundup mix

Dusty Tuckness battles a bull during a recent Bullfighters Only event in Cedar Park, Texas. Tuckness will be one of the bullfighters featured in Dodge City Roundup's A Whole Lotta Bull on Tuesday, Aug. 2. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Dusty Tuckness battles a bull during a recent Bullfighters Only event in Cedar Park, Texas. Tuckness will be one of the bullfighters featured in Dodge City Roundup’s A Whole Lotta Bull on Tuesday, Aug. 2. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Dodge City Roundup is getting a little more extreme.

By teaming with upstart Bullfighters Only, the annual rodeo is bringing back the tradition of freestyle bullfighting in conjunction with its Xtreme Bulls Tour event for the inaugural A Whole Lotta Bull.

“For a long time, Roundup was a major stop on Wrangler Bullfights Tour,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, president of the committee that produces the annual rodeo. “When that tour stopped, I think there were a lot of people who wanted to see it back in Dodge City.

Tim Bingham

Tim Bingham

“Will Bullfighters Only coming on the scene, we thought now was a great time to bring the bullfights back. That’s why we developed A Whole Lotta Bull.”

Xtreme Bulls will kick off the festivities at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, at Roundup Arena. This marks the third year for event to be part of the annual celebration and features the top bull riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Two seasons ago, Utah cowboy Tim Bingham capitalized on his win in western Kansas to qualify to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time. A year ago, Louisianan Jacob O’Mara claimed the title and nearly $5,000; he finished 2015 19th in the world standings, just missing out on the NFR.

“We’ve had great success in the Xtreme Bulls,” Trotter said. “By bringing in the bullfights, I think it adds another element to our Tuesday night performance that our fans will really enjoy, and that’s our primary purpose at Roundup.”

Nate Jestes

Nate Jestes

Bullfighters Only was established about a year ago, and the tour was developed this year. The Dodge City competition will feature five competitors in a showcase of athletic maneuvers waged against aggressive fighting bulls. The three men who serve as cowboy protection for the Xtreme Bulls – Wacey Munsell of Ulysses, Kan.; Nathan Jestes of Douglas, Wyo.; and Dusty Tuckness of Meeteetse, Wyo. – will make up part of the field.

“When Dodge City showed interest in having some freestyle bullfights, they contacted Tuckness and I,” said Jestes, who then guided the rodeo committee to the BFO.

Said Tuckness, “Bringing in the freestyle action with Bullfighters Only is something I think everyone will enjoy. I’m excited to get there. It’s another great rodeo that we get to be part of.”

Bullfighters Only features the top men in the game. With more than 30 events on the tour, the competition in Dodge City is a vital stop on the BFO’s tour.

“I came to Dodge City for the first time last year, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Jestes said. “I knew it was a great and prestigious rodeo, but throughout the six days I was there, it quickly became one of my favorite rodeos all year. The committee treats me very well and puts on a great rodeo.

“It’s one of the best rodeos in the industry, and it’s a huge honor and dang sure a feather in my cap for my career to be there.”

Winning the inaugural Bullfighters Only title in Dodge City would just add more feathers.

postheadericon Burger cashes in again in Calgary

With her victory Sunday afternoon at the Calgary Stampede, Mary Burger has extended her big-time lead in the WPRA world standings even more.

Burger held a $30,000 lead over the No. 2 cowgirl, Ivy Conrado, heading into the 10-day Stampede. While in Alberta, the Oklahoma cowgirl won all four go-rounds in Pool A, adding $22,000 to her earnings.

On Sunday afternoon, she won the $100,000 prize with the fastest run of the final-four round – only $50,000 of that will count toward the world standings, based on the ground rules established by the organization.

She also won the $50,000 round in a similar tournament-style format at RodeoHouston earlier this year.

Based on her WPRA earnings listed and the $72,000 she won in Calgary, Burger pushed her earnings to nearly $171,000 – that does not include any money she may have earned at other WPRA-sanctioned rodeos last week.

No matter how you slice it, Burger and her great young horse, Mo, are having an amazing ProRodeo season.

postheadericon Eagle is ready for big-time rodeo

Bareback rider George Gillespie surges out of the chutes on two-time Bareback Horse of the Year Dirty Jacket during a recent Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. Dirty Jacket is just one of the great bucking animals Pete Carr Pro Rodeo will have in Eagle next week.

Bareback rider George Gillespie surges out of the chutes on two-time Bareback Horse of the Year Dirty Jacket during a recent Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. Dirty Jacket is just one of the great bucking animals Pete Carr Pro Rodeo will have in Eagle next week.

EAGLE, Colo. – The organizers of the Eagle Fair and Rodeo have a few tricks up their sleeves for this year’s rodeo.

From the high-flying entertainment of decorated rodeo clown Troy Lerwill to the trick riding talents of the Daredevil Darlings to announcer Scott Grover calling the action from horseback, fans will experience a true showcase during the rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 20-Saturday, July 23, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

“We are doing the concerts again, a dirt dance, on Friday and Saturday after the rodeo,” said Tanya Dahlseid, a key member of the Eagle County staff. “We’re also having an additional specialty act in the Daredevil Darlings, who will be performing all four nights.

“The crowd seems to like the acts, so we’re just adding more. The fair board wanted to try it.”

The acts will go hand-in-hand with the world-class production from the team of talented professionals that are part of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the largest stock contracting firm in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. From great production to many of the greatest bucking athletes in the sport, fans have come to expect great things during Eagle’s rodeo.

“Pete Carr has the most amazing staff to work with, and his production is phenomenal,” Dahlseid said. “The stock, the performance … everything is just perfect. With the cool weather we have here in the mountains, the animals do amazing.”

The proof shows every year. In 2009, Ryan Gray matched moves with Carr’s Grass Dancer for a world record-tying 94-point ride. Last year, Richmond Champion scored 90 points on Dirty Jacket, the reigning two-time Bareback Horse of the Year.

Paint that into the canvas with the spectacular setting that is Eagle County, Colo., and there’s a reason why the greatest cowboys and cowgirls in the game are part of the rodeo every year.

“I think it’s a combination of our location and Pete Carr,” Dahlseid said. “I think a lot of people that come here for the rodeo add a few days and make it their vacations.

“Pete’s stock is phenomenal, and the contestants follow it. We’re fortunate to get so many of the best cowboys to be here.”

That combination is making a difference in how things work around Eagle. Fair and rodeo sponsors have been supportive over the years, and that endorsement has been beneficial.

“It’s because of the production and because of how professional Pete and his staff are,” she said. “We’ve been selling tickets like crazy already. That shows that we’re doing something right. We have an amazing team.”

Grover is new to the team, but he brings a solid pedigree with him to the mountains. He has been selected to work the Prairie Circuit Finals and National Circuit Finals rodeos.

“We’re very excited that he’s going to be announcing from horseback,” Dahlseid said. “It’s just another aspect of our rodeo that I think our fans will love.”

It’s another reason why the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo is one of the best.

postheadericon Wing, Hayes ready for PBR event

GUYMON, Okla. – Kasey Hayes loves riding bulls and competing at a high level, but bigger things have happened in his life recently.

His wife gave birth to their second child on June 17, so it’s been a little hectic around their Liberal, Kan., home. Still he has big plans to be in Texas County later this month to defend his title at the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate; children 5 and younger are free.

Kasey Hayes

Kasey Hayes

A year ago, Hayes utilized the victory near his hometown to secure his eighth qualification to the PBR World Finals. He will have a “meeting of the minds” with his good friend in Wing to be part of one of the best minor league events in the association each year.

“Last year’s event in Guymon turned out really good,” said Wing, a six-time world finals qualifier from Dalhart, Texas. “We’ve got an exceptional group of people from around that area that do all the work. Kasey and his wife just had their second son and I have a lot going on, so we’ve been running around; they’ve all been getting it tended to.”

While a local committee of dedicated volunteers handles the bulk of the load, Hayes and Wing provide the PBR star power. It’s the closest event to their homes the two cowboys compete in all year, so being part of the program is important to them.

“Just to be able to have it is a blessing,” Wing said. “If you’re going to do something, you want to do it right.”

Wing and Hayes are proud of their event, and they understand it takes many people and many personalities to make it happen.

Stormy Wing

Stormy Wing

“If you’re going to have a rank bull riding like we did last year, then I don’t see why we couldn’t be one of the best,” Wing said. “The other bull riders like what we have in bringing in the stock and the hospitality we provide.

“The people around there are amazing. You’ve got good bulls and good prize money, then you’re going to bring the guys to your event.”

Take a year ago as an example. Eighteen of the top 25 bull riders in the PBR world standings were part of the competition inside Hitch Arena. The buzz has been getting around the bull-riding world that a great event takes place in the Oklahoma Panhandle every July.

“H.D. Page has been the stock contractor of the year, and he will bring good bulls,” Wing said. “It’s a good atmosphere; the Built Ford Tough events (the PBR’s premier tour) are all indoor events. They’re great, but I think when the summer comes, the guys like getting outdoors a bit.

“When you see that arena packed like it’s been the last two years, it’s hard not to get excited.”

Fans have learned to expect great things at Guymon’s PBR event. Meanwhile, Wing wants to add his name to the list of champions.

“I ride bulls because I love it and because God gave me the opportunity,” he said. “It’s a fight between me and the bull, and I want to win.”

postheadericon Burns giving back to local fair

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The Lea County Fair and Rodeo will continue to be a big part of Kenyon Burns’ life for years to come.

“I have celebrated my birthday at the fair for the last 40 years,” said Burns, who will turn 41 during this year’s exposition.

Now a member of the Lea County Fair Board, his birthday party will be a bit different. Not only does he help with the planning and preparation of the annual expo, he is the chairman of the board’s rodeo committee.

Kenyon Burns

Kenyon Burns

Like most that grew up in this town of nearly 12,000 people, Burns knows rodeo. He has been part of the sport most of his life, competing at his first rodeo at the age of 6. He carried that through various levels and has battled the best in the business as a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. In fact, he’s a two-time qualifier to the National Finals Steer Roping.

It is the task of the rodeo committee to organize and prepare all aspects of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13, at Jake McClure Arena. That also includes the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, which takes place Tuesday, Aug. 9.

“I was appointed to the fair board last year,” said Burns, owner of Burns Resources LLC. “I served on the rodeo committee, and I offered a little feedback about the rodeo. I can give them an opinion from the cowboy’s point of view.

“You have to have cowboys to put on a rodeo, so I think it’s valuable to have that in the mix.”

Now he owns the presiding voice within the group. Though there are aspects that can be a bit overwhelming, Burns knows his task is to continue the greatness of Lovington’s rodeo that has been established over the years – not only is it historic, but it has been recognized as one of the top rodeos in the PRCA for several year with nominations for Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year.

“We’ve had lots of really good people make this rodeo what it is today,” he said. “I’m likening this experience to roping in the short round at a rodeo somewhere. I want to back into the (roping) box saying, ‘There are 11 other ropers here today, and I’m going to kick their butts.’ ”

That winning attitude is part of what makes the Lea County Fair and Rodeo a world-class event.

“Kenyon has done a real good job in his role,” said Corey Helton, the fair board’s chairman. “He stepped in and made some changes to the slack time that I think will be pretty good. That’s the biggest committee on the fair board. That’s one of the biggest responsibilities. As the rodeo chairman, that’s a big set of shoes to fill.”

There are a lot of big shoes filled by volunteers.

“This fair and rodeo wouldn’t exist without the volunteers,” Helton said, pointing out that a dedication will take place during part of the rodeo. “Some of these volunteers that you see in the livestock barn have been here for years. Year after year, they are volunteering their time to guide and lead these kids and get them where they need to be.

“We owe everything to the volunteers, and it’s about time they get recognized for that.”

Though he has been a volunteer for a short time, Burns has seen first-hand the importance. As a fairgoer and contestant, he has reaped the rewards of many people’s labor.

“The volunteers care, and they’re going to pour their lives into it,” Burns said. “This is their life. They take their vacation during the week to make it as good is it can be.”

That dedication pays off for tens of thousands of fairgoers each year.

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