Archive for April, 2017

postheadericon Monday competition postponed

Semi tractor-trailers line up on U.S. Highway 54 at the Main Street stoplight as westbound traffic on the highway is stalled in Guymon, Okla., on Sunday afternoon. The weather and traffic conditions have delayed the start of competition at Pioneer Days Rodeo. Monday's steer roping is postponed and will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GUYMON DAILY HERALD)

Semi tractor-trailers line up on U.S. Highway 54 at the Main Street stoplight as westbound traffic on the highway is stalled in Guymon, Okla., on Sunday afternoon. The weather and traffic conditions have delayed the start of competition at Pioneer Days Rodeo. Monday’s steer roping is postponed and will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday (PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE GUYMON DAILY HERALD)

GUYMON, Okla. – Weather has dealt the Oklahoma Panhandle a nasty hand over the weekend.

Blizzard conditions and high moisture have snarled traffic in and around Guymon as of Sunday afternoon. The weather also has caused a delay in the start of the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo competition.

Steer roping was scheduled to begin Monday, but organizers have opted to postpone it until 9 a.m. Tuesday at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. Instead of four go-rounds, steer roping will only feature three rounds.

Traffic on westbound U.S. Highway 54 was backed up for a great distance.

Traffic on westbound U.S. Highway 54 was backed up for a great distance.

“It’s important that we keep everyone as safe as possible, and this is in the best interest for the contestants, their horses and the livestock they’re going to compete on,” said Earl Helm, president of the committee that produces the annual rodeo. “The arena itself is in good shape. It can handle a lot of moisture, so that’s not the delay.

“The travel conditions are dangerous, so it’s just best to be safe.”

The rest of competition should go on as scheduled. The rest of the men’s timed events – tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling – will take place Wednesday and Thursday, and the first round and part of the second round of barrel racing is set to begin Friday morning.

Forecasters are predicting a slight chance of rain Wednesday, but the rest of the week looks to be clear of poor weather. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7. Tickets may be purchased online at or at any of the ticket outlets.

postheadericon Rangers win team titles in Hays

ALVA, Okla. – Everything came together well for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo teams.

The men and women won the team titles this past weekend at the Fort Hays (Kan.) State University rodeo, with the women dominating the standings by earning 505 points; the men scored 380 to better runner-up Southwestern Oklahoma State University by 20 points.

Kass Bittle

Kass Bittle

“It was the first rodeo where all the guys put something together,” Kass Bittle, a freshman header from Kremlin, Okla., said about the first men’s championship this season.

The women’s victory marked the third time in the 2016-17 Central Plains Region campaign that the Rangers claimed a title; they also won their home rodeo this past October and Garden City, Kan., early this month.

“Basically now is the time to do well,” said Stockton Graves, Northwestern’s rodeo coach. “I told the girls going in that we had just gotten passed by Panhandle (State) and were now third in the region. Now we’re back to second, and we’ve got a decent cushion over (Panhandle State) heading into the final weekend in Guymon.

“But Panhandle is third, and they have a tendency to do good at Guymon. Our girls have given themselves a chance, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Stockton Graves

Stockton Graves

With one rodeo remaining on the regional schedule, the contestants understand what it takes to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo. The top two teams in the region standings advance, and so do the top three individuals in each discipline.

Bittle and his heeling partner, Edgar Fierro, made a big move in Hays by winning the team roping championship. They moved to first in the region.

“I knew we had to do some good because we were sitting sixth” in the region, said Fierro, a junior from Hennessy, Okla. “The whole game plan is to go one at a time. You can never look ahead. I have confidence in Kass, and Kass has confidence in me.”

The duo stopped the clock in 7.1 seconds to share the first-round victory, then were 7.8 to finish second in the championship round. Their two-run cumulative time of 14.9 seconds earned them the victory, nearly two seconds ahead of the runners-up.

Edgar Fierro

Edgar Fierro

“We just wanted to make a snappy run” in the first round, Bittle said. “We drew the best one and got out really good and were able to put the round we wanted to.

“I knew if we tried to overthink it, that wouldn’t do us any good. We just kept the same game plan: Make a nice, sharp run and let the cards fall where they may. All you can do is make your run.”

Kass and Fierro were the leading tandem in team roping, but they were joined in the winner’s circle by header Maverick Harper of Stephenville, Texas, and Tanner Nall of Colcord, Okla., who placed fourth overall. Header Taylor Munsell of Arnett, Okla., finished fourth with her partner, Wyatt Rogers of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

The Rangers men received a big boost from Joby Allen of Alva, who won the steer wrestling title in Hays. He was 5.3 seconds to finish in a tie for second in the opening round, then grappled his steer to the ground in 5.5 seconds to share the short-round victory. He outlasted teammate Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, by two-tenths of a second with his two-run cumulative time of 10.8 seconds.

“The men had a good rodeo with a team-roping win and a bulldogging win,” Graves said. “That’s one of the better rodeos we’ve had, and we had quite a few make it to the short round.”

Heading into the final weekend, Devers continues to lead the Central Plains standings, but he’s just 10 points ahead of Allen. Teammate Colt Madison of Whiting, Iowa, is third. All-around cowboy Grayson Allred finished fourth in tie-down roping, while Cole Patterson of Pratt, Kan., was third in the first round and had a no-time in the short round.

The women were paced by their breakaway ropers, of which three cowgirls earned points. Brandi Hollenbeck of Hutchinson, Kan., finished second in both rounds and the average; she was 3.1 in the first round and 3.3 in the second. Katy Miller of Faith, S.D., just missed out on points in the first round, then was solid in 5.2 to finish fourth in the final round and the average. Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., picked up fifth-place points in the opener before settling for a no-time in the short round.

Goat-tier Tearnee Nelson of Faith won the first round in 7.8 seconds; she matched that time in the short round to finish in a tie for second, and her 15.6-second cumulative time earned her a second-place finish. Jennifer Massing of Ponoka, Alberta, finished fifth in both rounds and the average.

Barrel racer Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., posted the fastest run of the rodeo, a 17.40, to win the final round; that pushed her to second in the average.

“This is the time,” Graves said. “It’s like the NBA playoffs; it’s a good time to get hot, and it really counts right. We have an opportunity going into Guymon to be really successful this year. I tell them every weekend that they can’t relax. We’ve got one rodeo left, and it’ll make us or break us.

“Winning is a big part of the game. You can bulldog, you can rope and you can tie goats in the practice pen, but if you can’t win, then it’s all for nothing.”

postheadericon BFO to be televised on RFD-TV

The stage for Bullfighters Only continues to grow, and a national television audience will get to experience the high-powered action of freestyle bullfighting.

The Bullfighters Only event from this past Saturday night in Ada, Okla., will be part of a special airing at 7:30 p.m. (Central) Wednesday, April 26.

“I’m just excited that our next step with Bullfighters Only is coming to fruition on RFD-TV,” said Sean Cassidy, vice president of Western lifestyle events on the network.

The BFO burst onto the Western sports scene two years ago with sessions showcasing many of the most talented freestyle bullfighters in the sport. The popularity quickly grew and now Bullfighters Only is in the midst of its second season on tour.

The Ada event was a 15-man bout focused strictly on the bullfighting. Wednesday’s show will be dedicated to the fights between man and beast. Not only will there video of amazing athletic talent from the bullfighters and their counterparts, but the show will include the danger that comes with the sport.

“RFD-TV has always been a great partner of ours,” said Aaron Ferguson, founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only. “All three of our stand-alone events – Ada, Decatur (Texas) and Lewiston (Idaho) – will be televised on RFD-TV.

“We know how important the Western audience is our sport, and we wanted to create a show that was new and exciting to them. I think we’ll get that with these BFO events.”

Bullfighters Only will add a some extreme to the Western sports world, and RFD-TV is excited to have the special as part of its Wednesday night lineup.

“Wednesday nights are Western sports nights on RFD-TV,” said Billy Frey, chief marketing officer for the network. “We don’t think enough people are paying enough attention to Western sports.”

The network has been putting on shows like that since its inception, and that includes the biggest one-day rodeo of the year, RFD-TV’s The American. Bullfighters Only was part of the 2016 rodeo in Arlington, Texas, so the network brass understands the sport.

“The excitement of it is what drew me to it,” Frey said. “The bullfighters have the craziest job of anyone in the world. With Bullfighters Only, it’s not just the ability to dodge a bull or distract a bull; it’s the way they do it with flair and style.

“It takes guts; it takes courage. It really embodies who we are as Americans.”

That’s one of the reasons the partnership works.

“We chose RFD-TV because of their amazing ability to reach people who crave Western sports,” Ferguson said. “What they’ve done for the sport of rodeo with The American has been outstanding. They have a sterling reputation, and that’s why we’re partnering with them.”

postheadericon Rodeo celebrating family with matinee

GUYMON, Okla. – Saturday has always been a special part of the Pioneer Days celebration.

The parade kick starts the morning as it winds through this city of about 12,000, the largest town in the Oklahoma Panhandle. There are barbecues and reunions and plenty of time spent with family. The committee that produces the annual Pioneer Days Rodeo recognizes that.

“This is a community celebration, and we want people to get together and enjoy one of the greatest things we have in this town, the rodeo,” said Earl Helm, chairman of the rodeo committee, which is part of the Guymon Chamber of Commerce. “We have set our Saturday matinee as our family day, and we have a lot going on with that.”

The best value is advanced tickets. Adult tickets are $15, with children ages 11-15 set at $5; children 10 and younger can get in for $5 or with two cans of food that will be donated to Loaves & Fishes. Tickets at the gate are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 11-15; kids 10 and younger is the same as presale.

“Because there is so much activity after the parade, we are going to utilize our pre-sale pricing at the gate for the Saturday matinee,” Helm said, reiterating that an adult ticket for the Saturday afternoon performance is $15. “We’re also going to have drawings for free bicycles for the kids 10 and under, and we will give those bikes away to the winners who are in attendance at that rodeo performance.

“As a committee, this is our way to tell all those families ‘thank you’ for always supporting our rodeo. We are able to bring to town nearly 1,000 contestants every year because of that support, so it’s pretty important all the way around. This year, we’re also going to keep selling pre-sale tickets at our ticket outlets through the weekend. In the past, we’ve stopped pre-sale tickets before the rodeo began, but we wanted to extend the pre-sale opportunity all weekend at those ticket outlets.”

The four performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“It’s a cowboy’s rodeo,” said Andy Stewart, who announces Pioneer Days Rodeo with local cowboy Ken Stonecipher. “It’s in the heart of Cowboy Country. The people who come to that rodeo are farmers and ranchers. In that part of the country, cowboy is still king.

“It’s a Western rodeo, and I think the reason it’s so special is the history and the prestige. It’s been a huge rodeo for a long time. When you win that rodeo, you get a beautiful belt, and that belt from Guymon means something to those contestants.”

In fact, Pioneer Days Rodeo was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2015, a true testament to the prestige of the biggest events annually in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

“For me, it’s a real honor to be part of that rodeo,” Stewart said. “It’s one of those rodeos you’ve heard about your entire life, and when you get there, it’s almost surreal.

“It is an amazing experience to be part of that old-school set-up. It’s a unique venue in that the arena is built into the side of a hill, and you come in, walk down and get to see everything. It’s a great atmosphere.”

That’s just what fans have come to expect in Guymon.

postheadericon Rutkowski claims Ada title

Weston Rutkowski jumps Rockin' B & Magnifica Fighting Bulls' Mess Up The Ranch during Saturday's championship round of the Bullfighters' Only Ada Invitational. Rutkowski won the title with an 88-point bout with that bull. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Weston Rutkowski jumps Rockin’ B & Magnifica Fighting Bulls’ Mess Up The Ranch during Saturday’s championship round of the Bullfighters’ Only Ada Invitational. Rutkowski won the title with an 88-point bout with that bull. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Reigning world champion outlasts the field to win Bullfighters Only event

ADA, Okla. – Weston Rutkowski arrived in Ada a few days ago knowing he was in for one heck of a fight.

Bullfighters Only-Ada marked the return of big-time freestyle bullfighting to the Pontotoc County Agriplex for the first time in five years, and the Haskell, Texas, man showed just why he is the No. 1 man in the game.

“It was a good day at the office,” said Rutkowski, who pocketed $10,000 by winning BFO-Ada in front of a packed crowd. “This is my passion, my career. This is my love, and I am excited anytime I can do this.”

Weston Rutkowski

Weston Rutkowski

Fifteen men began Saturday night’s showdown all matched with aggressive and athletic Spanish fighting bulls. It was the perfect mix of action, excitement and danger, and it played out well for all involved. It just played out a little better for Rutkowski, the first man in 17 years to win a world championship through a freestyle bullfighting tour.

“Ada was awesome,” he said. “There was a line all the way out to the road of people trying to get in. It was everything I expected it to be.”

The field included many of the top men in Bullfighters Only, some rising stars and a bullfighting legend in 1999 Wrangler Bullfight Tour world champion Lance Brittan, who returned to the game he loves after several years away.

“I watched one bullfight all night before I went, and I got to see Lance Brittan do what Lance Brittan does best,” Rutkowski said. “The crowd was very involved, very engaged. They were excited to have bullfighting back in Ada, and they knew what they were watching and what they’ve missed for so many years.”

The Bullfighters Only Ada Invitational will air at on RFD-TV at 7:30 p.m. Central this Wednesday, April 26.

“My first bull was not one of the bulls that are particularly fun to fight,” said Rutkowski, who scored 86.5 points to win his section and advance to the championship round. “He was a little older and smarter, and I got a lot of rounds out of him to keep him hooked up with me.”

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.

That means it’s imperative that the bull remain as close as possible and stay aggressive through the 60-second bout.

“My short-round bull was one I fought back in San Angelo (Texas).” he said.

That bout took place in February and didn’t end the way he wanted. The bull hooked him to the ground, then tossed the bullfighter in the air.

“I was pretty pumped up to get the rematch with him,” said Rutkowski, who matched moves with Mess Up the Ranch from Rockin’ B & Magnifica Fighting Bulls for 88 points to win the title. “I’m just glad it worked out.”

It also moved him back to the top of the BFO world standings, but the season is still in its infancy. There are several more events left on the schedule.

“I do this because I love it, but it is nice to be able to do well in front of such a great crowd,” he said. “Everything I had heard about Ada turned out to be true. It was amazing.”

Round 1: Ely Sharkey, 88 points; 2. Lance Brittan, 84.5; 3. Noah Krepps, 84.
Round 2: Zach Call, 88 points; 2. Zach Arthur, 87.5; 3. Tate Rhoads, 85.5.
Round 3: Evan Allard, 85 points; 2. Toby Inman, 83.5; 3. Jon Roberts, 83.
Round 4: Weston Rutkowski, 86.5 points; 2. Bryce Redo, 84.5; 3. Travis Gidley, no score.
Round 5: Schell Apple, 85.5 points; 2. (tie) Jimmy Essary and Beau Schueth, 84.5.
Final Round: 1. Weston Rutkowski, 88 points; 2. Schell Apple, 87; 3. Evan Allard, 86.5; 4. Zach Call, 86; 5. Ely Sharkey, 84.5.

postheadericon Bullfighting heads home

Bullfighters Only renews event’s history by bringing the action back to Ada

ADA, Okla. – There’s nothing like coming home.

Whether they’ve laced up their cleats inside the Pontotoc County Agriplex or not, the 15 men who will be part of the Bullfighters Only understand the history freestyle bullfighting in that building.

Champions have been crowned, and legends have been formed.

Weston Rutkowski

Weston Rutkowski

Now, thanks to the BFO, the greatest young talent in the game – mixed with some bullfighting veterans and icons – will put their talents on display during the Bullfighters Only stand-alone event, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Agriplex in Ada.

This is freestyle bullfighting at its best, and many fans in southeast Oklahoma know the sport well. For those that don’t know the sport, they might just be in for the ride of their lives. Men put their lives on the line for this coveted championship; that’s what bullfighting is all about.

“It’s a two-hour, action-packed event where you have 15 of the best bullfighters of the world,” said Weston Rutkowski, the reigning BFO world champion. “These televised, stand-alone events make bullfighting so much bigger.”

Beau Schueth

Beau Schueth

What makes it a big deal is the man-vs.-beast factor. A big part of Bullfighters Only’s success lies within the heart-stopping action that comes with the extreme danger in freestyle bullfighting. Men will try to stay within inches of the bulls, which are bred to be part of this type of fight. The most successful will keep the animal engaged closely while showcasing true athleticism to stay out of harm’s way.

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.

“It’s so much fun to fight against guys you’ve watched and learned from,” said Beau Schueth of O’Neill, Neb. “Now to compete with them and be on their level is an awesome feeling.”

Bullfighters Only is all about innovation, and that’s been the driving force behind it’s incredible growth. Two years ago, the BFO was showcasing the sport via sessions that were posted on social media. Now it’s in the midst of its second full season of battling toward a world championship.

“In bullfighting, you’re basically the underdog every match you go into,” said Zach Call of Mullen, Neb. “It’s cool that you can stay focused enough that even though you’re going up against something that’s bigger, strong and faster than you, you can come out unscathed.

“The only way to beat the bull is with your head. You don’t outrun them. You have to outsmart them.”

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at Boom-A-Rang Diner in Ada or online at

Weston Rutkowski
Beau Schueth
Bryce Redo
Zach Call
Schell Apple
Cody Greer
Toby Inman
Lance Brittan
Evan Allard
Tate Rhoads
Daryl Thiessen
Zach Arthur
Jon Roberts
Travis Gidley
Jimmy Essary

postheadericon Action is heading to Moose Jaw

PBR and Bullfighters Only bringing a big show to Saskatchewan

MOOSE JAW, Saskatchewan – This city of 33,000 people has quickly learned how exciting things get with the bull riding event comes to town.

The action explodes even more for this year’s Professional Bull Riders Moose Jaw Powered by Young’s Equipment, set for 7 p.m. Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw.

In addition to the raw power that comes with the PBR, Alpha Bull is adding even more to the two-day show with the inclusion of Bullfighters Only, the premier freestyle bullfighting association in North America.

Weston Rutkowski

Weston Rutkowski

“We’re excited to bring Bullfighters Only to Moose Jaw,” said Chad Besplug, a two-time Canadian champion bull rider that owns Alpha Bull, which is producing the event. “These guys are crazy athletic and can do some amazing things with these fighting bulls. They can be a show all by themselves, but they are just part of what we’re producing in Moose Jaw.”

Similar to Spanish bullfighting, the animals are bred to be aggressive and will pressure the bullfighter, who uses only his athleticism and his experience as his weapons and his tools to remain out of harm’s way.

Like bull riding where scores are based on a 100-point scale, half the score comes from the bull, which can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter; men can earn up to 50 points per fight on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over the animal.

“Freestyle bullfighting is still pretty new in Canada, but it’s a whole different avenue for fans,” said Weston Rutkowski, the reigning Bullfighters Only world champion who is scheduled to be part of the bouts in Moose Jaw. “It brings a whole different excitement to the events.

“Chad puts on great events, and they’re very entertaining from the get-go.”

Rutkowski saw it first-hand earlier this year when he competed at a similar event in Claresholm, Alberta.

“The crowd didn’t know what they were watching at first, but after Daryl got hooked down, they knew how exciting it was going to be,” Rutkowski said of Daryl Thiessen, a Canadian-bred bullfighter from Elm Creek, Manitoba. “They realized it was the game, and they really seemed to be part of the game from that point on.”

Fans in Moose Jaw should expect the same type of excitement, if not more. The event will feature many of the top bull riders in the game, including Wesley Silcox, the 2007 world champion in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“This is really going to be some of the best Canadian bull riders we have and a few of the best Americans,” Besplug said. “I expect it to be a really tight competition.”

He should. The excitement of both bull riding and freestyle bullfighting is the unknown and the danger of dealing with the wild animals. Bull riders will try to remain on the animal for a qualifying eight seconds while exhibiting control. It takes a true athlete to make the whistle while riding nearly a ton of bucking, spinning and kicking muscle.

It’s the perfect mix of action-packed drama and pure athleticism.

“There’s always a chance to see some big-time wrecks,” Rutkowski said. “That’s the good thing about events like this, because you get the top-quality guys. You’re going to have to step up out there and risk it all in order to win.”



postheadericon Guymon partners with Days of ’47

GUYMON, Okla. – Pioneer Days Rodeo is taking a step in a new direction, but it will still be the same kind of show fans have come to expect over the years.

It was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, and annually it will feature nearly 1,000 contestants all vying for this prestigious title. But this year’s event will have another carrot to dangle in front of the cowboys and cowgirls, thanks to its partnership as an official trial event for the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo, which takes place July 19-24 in Salt Lake City.

“We think this will be a good way to not only promote Pioneer Days but also promote ProRodeo in general,” said Earl Helm, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“When we were approached about this partnership, we looked at all the possibilities that came with it. It looks like it’s a win-win for us and for the cowboys and cowgirls.”

Pioneer Days Rodeo is one of several trial events where contestants can earn points to qualify for the Days of ’47. Contestants finishing among the top five in each discipline  – top four in barrel racing  – through the trial series and being in the top 35 of the world standings will qualify.

“This exciting, new format will bring a fresh approach to the sport and greater financial prospects to the rodeo athletes,” Dan Shaw, CEO of the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo, said in a release. “Through the trial-event process, competitors from smaller rodeos across the nation are afforded a unique chance to be a part of history.

“The Cowboy Games will give the fans an opportunity to be more engaged and will bring widespread national exposure to the sport.”

That exposure will begin with events like Pioneer Days Rodeo. In addition to chasing points in order to qualify for Salt Lake City, cowboys and cowgirls will ride, rope and race for the money available in Guymon. But there are plenty of rewards that come by advancing to the Cowboy Games.

Points will be gathered through how the contestants finish in the overall race in each event. Bareback riders, saddle bronc riders and bull riders will all be based on a one-ride format, with the highest scores winning the money and gathering points. Those that earn points in the timed events will do so based on their cumulative finish through multiple runs.

Points earned in Guymon will be matched with those earned at other trial events. Once they earn the right to compete in Salt Lake City, athletes will battle for their share of the purse, valued at $1 million in cash and prizes.

“We’re all about the cowboys in Guymon, and we think this gives them another chance to make money this season,” Helm said. “When you make a living in rodeo, all you want is an opportunity.”

postheadericon Gunnison is part of rodeo history

Gunnison, Colo., is home to Cattlemen's Days, the oldest rodeo in Colorado and the longest continuous running rodeo in America. (ALLEN IVY PHOTO)

Gunnison, Colo., is home to Cattlemen’s Days, the oldest rodeo in Colorado and the longest continuous running rodeo in America. (ALLEN IVY PHOTO)

GUNNISON, Colo. – There is so much involved in the annual Cattlemen’s Days in this picturesque community that it takes months to plan and just a few days to pull off.

“It is Colorado’s oldest rodeo and the longest continuous running rodeo in America,” said Andy Stewart, the event’s rodeo announcer. “It’s part of history in a great ranching town. The people are wonderful, and the scenery is beautiful.

“It’s one of my favorite rodeos.”

And it’s all set for July 7-16 in Gunnison, and there are many reasons why it’s so personal for Stewart, nominated eight times for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Announcer of the Year.

“The livestock’s always great there, and Stace Smith does a great job of producing that rodeo,” Stewart said. “He incorporates other stock contractors into that rodeo to make it the best show he can.

“It’s also got the largest Tough Enough To Wear Pink campaign in the country by far. They raise more money than anybody, and they have a great Songwriter Concert and Auction in Crested Butte (Colo.) just a couple of days before the rodeo. They’ve set the standard in ProRodeo.”

The Tough Enough To Wear Pink campaigns began in 2004 and have encompassed many PRCA events across the country. Over the years, no other campaign has raised more money than Cattlemen’s Days, which raises in excess of $200,000 annually.

And that money stays local.

“One of our goals is to make Gunnison Valley Health the No. 1 rural hospital for breast cancer care in the U.S.,” said Heidi Sherratt Bogart, executive director of the local TETWP campaign. “Thanks to the vision and dedication of award-winning singer/songwriter Dean Dillon – as well as donors, sponsors and volunteers – TETWP has raised over $1 million to be used exclusively in this community.”

In fact, that number is nearing the $2 million mark.

“They just brought in a couple of the best surgeons for women and the equipment to the Gunnison Valley,” Stewart said, also pointing out some of the money has been used for a patient transportation RAM pickup to ensure patients reach their appointments safely and comfortably.

That includes the rodeo. Smith is an 11-time PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year, and much of that is attributed to the tremendous animal athletes mixed with amazing production. Mixed with world-class specialty acts, it’s the perfect fit for outstanding family-friendly entertainment.

Those acts include Keith Isley, six-time PRCA Clown of the Year and 10-time Act of the Year, and the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, who have been nominated three times for Dress Act of the Year.

“I love Keith Isley and look forward to working with him in Gunnison,” Stewart said. “He is just very talented and very professional. The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls is high-powered and a very entertaining group of young ladies.

“It’s just an awesome event overall that does so much for all of Gunnison Valley.”

postheadericon Focused Allen takes bulldogging title

ALVA, Okla. – Joby Allen chooses to look straight ahead when it comes to competing for the steer wrestling title in the Central Plains Region.

“I don’t keep tabs on them,” he said of the standings, where he sits third with two events left on the region season. “I take every rodeo one rodeo at a time.”

It may be cliché, but that approach has allowed the Alva cowboy to focus on the tasks at hand. He has accumulated 440 points this season and is behind two Northwestern Oklahoma State University teammates: Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, leads the race to the title with 490, while Colten Madison of Whiting, Iowa, is second, just 10 points behind.

Joby Allen

Joby Allen

Only the top three individuals in each discipline advance to the College National Finals Rodeo in June. Allen is right where he wants to be, but he hopes to be among those top-tier cowboys when the season concludes the end of this month.

Allen jumped into position for the season championship with a key victory this past weekend at the Southwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo in Weatherford. He won the first round with a 5.3-second run, the same time he used to finish in a tie for second place in the championship round. His 10.6-second cumulative time earned him the championship by eight-tenths of a second.

“I ended up drawing two good steers,” he said. “I’d been working on my scoring, making sure I got out. At Garden City (Kan.), I didn’t do that.”

Scoring is allowing the steer an appropriate head start while still being in good position. A barrier line crosses the timed-event chute and is released when the steer reaches the appropriate distance. The barrier, which is tied together by a thin string, will break if the animal is not provided an adequate lead. The result is a 10-second penalty, which typically takes contestants out of the running.

“I was just trying to get out of the barrier,” said Allen, who suffered the penalty the weekend before in western Kansas. “In the first round, I drew one of the better steers and made a good run.”

By winning the opening round, he was the last to go in the championship. Was there any pressure by being in that position?

“I felt a little bit,” he said. “There were a few good runs in the short go, so I knew I had to be fast. I knew I had a good steer, and I knew I had to take the barrier and go catch him.”

He had a little help from his mount, Boomer, a 12-year-old bay gelding owned by professional steer wrestler Ryan Swayze of Freedom, Okla.

“I got him the first part of June (2016), and I’ve had him since then,” Allen said. “He’s been working good.”

Devers moved into the region lead by finishing fourth in Weatherford, placing in a tie for sixth in the first round and tying Allen for second in the short round. In team roping, Tearnee and Wylee Nelson, a brother-sister tandem from Faith, S.D., finished fifth, while Maverick Harper of Stephenville, Texas, and Tanner Nall of Colcord, Okla., placed sixth.

Katy Miller of Faith placed in both rounds of goat tying and finished third overall. She sits third in the regional standings. Andrea Dufrane of Dawson, Minn., placed in the first round and held on fir sixth in the average. Barrel racer Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., placed second in the championship round and jumped to sixth in the average, while breakaway roper Taylor Munsell of Arnett, Okla., placed in both rounds and finished third overall.

With two rodeos remaining – Hays, Kan., April 21-23 and Guymon, Okla., April 27-29 – three other Rangers sit in position to advance to the college finals based on their regional standings: Mason Bowen of Bullard, Texas, leads tie-down roping; Dylan Schulenberg of Coal Valley, Ill., is atop the heading standings; and Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., sits third in barrel racing.

But there are plenty of points available in the final two weekends for others to make their move.

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