Archive for May, 2018

postheadericon Rumford returns to Rooftop

Justin Rumford gives the thumbs' up from the float he rides with Jimmy Lee, Weston Rutkowski and Andy Seiler during the 2016 Rooftop Rodeo parade in Estes Park, Colo.

Justin Rumford gives the thumbs’ up from the float he rides with Jimmy Lee, Weston Rutkowski and Andy Seiler during the 2016 Rooftop Rodeo parade in Estes Park, Colo. He returns to Rooftop Rodeo this July.

Celebrated rodeo clown joins Sanders, Hilton as award-winners working rodeo

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Justin Rumford is just naturally funny, and that’s a good thing.

He’s a comedian by nature, something he picked up years ago on his family’s Kansas ranch. Now he is the preeminent funnyman in professional rodeo, having been named the Clown of the Year five times in the past six years.

Rumford will lend his talents and his comedic poetry to Rooftop Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 5-Tuesday, July 10, at Granny May Arena inside the Estes Park Fairgrounds.

“We’re bringing Justin back because he’s the fans’ favorite every time he’s here,” said Mark Purdy, chairman of Estes Park Western Heritage Inc., a group of volunteers that works with the town of Estes Park to produce the annual rodeo. “He’s funny, engaging and makes our rodeo better just because he’s here.”

Deep in his roots, Rumford is a third-generation stock contractor. Rodeo is in his blood. He’s roped and bulldogged; he’s ridden broncs and fought bulls; he’s even driven the semi-tractor trailers that haul prized steads.

Now he’s living a dream.

“This clowning deal is the best thing I’ve ever had,” said Rumford, who lives Ponca City, Okla., with his wife, Ashley, and their triplets, Livi, Lola and Bandy. “It’s something in rodeo that I can have a lot of longevity in. There’s not just a ton of risk, and it’s something I enjoy so much.”

He isn’t the only award-winning piece of the Rooftop Rodeo equation. Of course, the rodeo is a winner, named six times as Rodeo of the Year, and this year will also feature two other 2017 honorees: Secretary of the Year Amanda Corley Sanders and Music Director of the Year Josh “Hambone” Hilton – Hilton is the first person to ever be recognized in that category.

“We’ve had Amanda and ‘Hambone’ working Rooftop for several years, and both are integral parts of what we do in producing this rodeo every year,” said Ben Vigil, president of Western Heritage. “They handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes things that must happen for a rodeo to be successful in this day and age, but they are relatively unseen. Still, none of our success happens without people like that on your team.”

Like Rumford, Sanders and Hilton were raised around rodeo. Each provides a laundry list of experiences to their duties, and the cowboys have rewarded them for it. While they tend to handle their tasks under the cover of darkness, Rumford happily welcomes his place in the spotlight.

“People want to laugh at each other more than they want to laugh at something,” Rumford said. “When I’m in the arena, I’m saying the same stuff I’d say if I wasn’t clowning.

“It’s just me being me.”

That’s all anybody in Estes Park wants.

postheadericon Pharr speeds to Claremore title

CLAREMORE, Okla. – The dirt on their faces said something about Conner and Sterling Pharr.

They’re having fun on the rodeo trail with their daddy, Tim. So is he, for that matter. He has set up his rodeo schedule around his sons’ education; not that school’s out for the summer, the boys jumped in the rig with him.

On Sunday night, Pharr proved how much fun he’s having by roping and tying his calf in 7.9 seconds to win the tie-down roping on the final night of the 2018 Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo.

“This is the second run on these calves, and they missed her the first time,” said Pharr, the No. 38 man in the world standings heading into Memorial Day weekend. “There wasn’t much to know. You can’t really make a game plan, so you just wing it.”

Improvising worked for the Resaca, Ga., cowboy. He pocketed $1,659 in Claremore; when added to his earnings for finishing second at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo to kick off May, Pharr has earned more than $4,400 in Oklahoma this month.

“There were four guys going after me, so I knew if I’m under 9.4, I’m in the money,” he said. “It’s still a competition between you and your calf. Some of the calves tonight really ran, and my wasn’t so fast, so it gave me an advantage.”

Pharr and the boys left their Georgia home and arrived 670 miles later in Fort Smith, Ark., in time for him to compete Sunday morning there. They then traveled another 125 miles to Claremore to partake in the four-time PRCA Small Rodeo of the Year. It’s a lot of miles, but it’s important for Pharr to have that time with his kids; Conner is 7; Sterling, 5.

“There’s nothing more important to me than family,” he said. “They just got out of school, so I just loaded them up, and here we go. I’ve got them for two weeks, then their junior rodeo finals is June 9.

“Whatever I can do to have them with me is what I do. I have a great family and a lot of support behind me, and they’re more than willing to help me.’

With Conner and Sterling right here with him, Tim Pharr has found a winning formula.

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore, Okla.
May 25-27
Bareback riding:
1. Jamie Howlett, 83.5 points Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s River Blast, $1,225; 2. (tie) Taylor Broussard and Tanner Aus, 81.5, $798 each; 4. Lane McGehee, 81, $456; 6. (tie) Justin Pollmiller and Jared Keylon, 80.5, $223.

Steer wrestling: 1. Shane Frey, 3.7 seconds, $1,951; 2. Matt Reeves, 4.3, $1,697; 3. (tie) Jason Tapley and Blake Mindemann, 4.4, $1,315 each; 5. (tie) Kyle Whitaker and Jule Hazen, 4.5, $806; 7. John Kloeckler, 4.7, $424; 8. Hunter Washburn, 4.8, $170.

Tie-down roping: 1. Tim Pharr, 7.9 seconds, $1,659; 2. Trent Creager, 8.4, $1,443; 3. Riley Pruitt, 8.7, $1,226; 4. Shane Hanchey, 9.1, $1,010; 5. (tie) Cole Bailey and Tyler Milligan, 9.4, $685 each; 7. Cody Quaney, 9.6, $361; 8. Scot Meeks, 9.7, $144.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Louie Brunson, 85 points on Pete Carr ProRodeo’s Django, $1,365; 2. Colt Gordon, 84, $1,034; 3. Joe Lufkin, 83.5, $744; 4. Dalton Davis, 83, $496; 5. (tie) Wyatt Casper, Tyrel Larsen and Roper Kiesner, 80, $165 each.

Team roping: 1. Dalton Turner/Heath Williams, 5.4 seconds, $1,729; 2. Cody Graham/Jason Stroup, 5.8, $1,504; 3. Cory Kidd V/Caleb Anderson, 5.7, $1,278; 4. Quentin Sawyer/Jordan Reynolds, 6.0, $1,052; 5. Brenten Hall, 6.1, $927; 6. Jesse Stipes/Jake Smith, 6.2, $601; 7. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 6.4, $376; 8. Branden Duff/Jeff Brown, 6.5, $150.

Barrel racing: 1. Jessica Routier, 17.11 seconds, $1,905; 2. Jody McKay, 17.20, $1,633; 3. Stevi Hillman, 17.25, $1,361; 4. Tiany Schuster, 17.27, $1,179; 5. Kylie Weast, 17.28, $907; 6. Cheyenne Kelly, 17.33, $726; 7. Ericka Nelson, 13.37, $544; 8. Ali Armstrong, 17.38, $363; 9. Sandy McElreath, 17.50, $272; 10. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.54, $181.

Clem McSpadden Tub-Handle Classic Steer roping: First round: 1. Roger Branch, 10.7 seconds, $1,554; 2. Will Gasperson, 10.9, $1,286; 3. Tony Reina, 11.3, $1,018; 4. Cody Lee, 11.9, $750; 5. Mike Chase, 12.2, $482; 6. Trenton Johnson, 12.5, $268. Second round: 1. Corey Ross, 9.9 seconds, $2,554; 2. Mike Chase, 11.8, $1,286; 3. Brady Garten, 12.0, $1,108; 4. Rocky Patterson, 12.4, $750; 5. Martin Poindexter, 12.7, $482; 6. (tie) Vin Fisher Jr. and Cody Lee, 13.1, $134 each. Third round: 1. Tuf Cooper, 10.1 seconds, $1,554; 2. J.P. Wickett, 10.7, $1,286; 3. Vin Fisher Jr., 10.8, $1,018; 4. Corey Ross, 10.9, $750; 5. Brady Garten, 11.8, $482; 6. Jim Locke, 12.0, $268. Average: 1. Cody Lee, 39.7 seconds on three runs, $2,331; 2. Roger Branch, 41.2, $1,929; 3. Trenton Johnson, 45.7, $1,527; 4. Billy Good, 48.8, $1,125; 5. Kelton McMillen, 50.3, $723; 6. Corey Ross, 20.8 seconds on two runs, $402.

Bull riding: 1. Lane Clark, 86.5 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Lloyd Did WHAT, $1,458; 2. (tie) Boudreaux Campbell and Kole Bowman, 86, $950 each; 4. Dusti Boquet and Shane Proctor, $420; 6. Cullen Telfer, 82.5, $221.

postheadericon Reeves slides into No. 2 position

Matt Reeves, a six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Cross Plains, Texas, transitions to his steer during a 4.3-second run. He sits second in the steer wrestling race at the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. (PEGGY GANDER PHOTO)

Matt Reeves, a six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Cross Plains, Texas, transitions to his steer during a 4.3-second run. He sits second in the steer wrestling race at the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. (PEGGY GANDER PHOTO)

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Matt Reeves just missed his seventh qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo a season ago.

He doesn’t want to do that again. On Saturday night during the second performance of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo, Reeves wrestled his steer to the ground in 4.3 seconds to move into second place in the bulldogging race.

“With one day left at this rodeo, I should win something,” said Reeves of Cross Plains, Texas. “I don’t know if I’ll (finish) second, but I’ll win something.

“The horses worked outstanding. The start is really fast. I took a chance and was a little behind at the start. The steer let me catch up to him fast.”

Shane Frey of Duncan, Okla., leads steer wrestling in Claremore with a 3.7-second run, so moving into the No. 2 spot is important to Reeves. He understands that placing throughout the season gives him the best shot earning a better living.

In rodeo, money not only helps pay the bills, but dollars equal championship points. At the conclusion of the regular season, only the top 15 on the money list in each event advance to the NFR, ProRodeo’s grand finale. When the campaign comes to a stop on the 10th night in Las Vegas, the contestants with the most money won will be crowned world champions.

“Last year was the first year I hauled this horse all the time,” said Reeves, who finished 21st in the world standings in 2017. “We had some issues toward the end of the year. I had some distractions with us having our second kid coming, but you can’t be distracted and win. That’s just life.

“I’m going to try not to do that again. My hope is to have enough money by Dodge City (Kan., the first of August) to have qualified for the NFR before we got up north, then we’re just fighting for position when we get there.”

Reeves has already had a pretty successful 2018. He won the bulldogging title at The American, a stand-alone event that has been unsanctioned by any association. While the $433,000 he earned the end of February will count for a lot of things in his life, it doesn’t work toward his place in the world standings. He was 13th in the PRCA world standings heading into this weekend.

“That money didn’t really affect how I rodeo,” he said. “We did get another trailer so I could haul five horses, which makes it easier to go with guys. But the majority of that money … we bought some cows and bought a cube feeder; my kids can go to college debt-free, and I’ve got some retirement.”

For now, though, he’s just enjoying his life on the rodeo trail.

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore, Okla.
May 25-27
Leaders through second performance
Bareback riding:
1. Jamie Howlett, 83.5 points Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s River Blast; 2. Taylor Broussard, 81.5; 3. Lane McGehee, 81; 4. (tie) Justin Pollmiller and Jared Keylon, 80.5; 6. Mark Kreder, 78.

Steer wrestling: 1. Shane Frey, 3.7 seconds; 2. Matt Reeves, 4.3; 3. (tie) Jason Tapley and Blake Mindemann, 4.4; 5. Jule Hazen, 4.5; 6. John Kloeckler, 4.7; 7. Hunter Washburn, 4.8; 8. (tie) Cody Doesher and Tristan Martin.

Tie-down roping: 1. Trent Creager, 8.4 seconds; 2. Riley Pruitt, 8.7; 3. Shane Hanchey, 9.1; 4. (tie) Cole Bailey and Tyler Milligan, 9.4; 6. Cody Quaney, 9.6; 7. Scot Meeks, 9.7; 8. Layton Little, 10.0.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Louie Brunson, 85 points on Pete Carr ProRodeo’s Django; 2. Colt Gordon, 84; 3. (tie) Wyatt Casper and Tyrel Larsen, 80; 5. Bradley Harter, 78.5; 6. (tie) Jake Finley and Clint Lindenfield, 76.

Team roping: 1. Dalton Turner/Heath Williams, 5.4 seconds; 2. Cory Kidd V/Caleb Anderson, 5.7; 3. Quentin Sawyer/Jordan Reynolds, 6.0; 4. Brenten Hall, 6.1; 5. Jesse Stipes/Jake Smith, 6.2; 6. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 6.4;76. (tie) Dilan Rucker/Whitney DeSalvo, Will Clark/Tanner Ward and Adam Wallace/Tyler Young, 6.6.

Barrel racing: 1. Jody McKay, 17.20 seconds; 2. Stevi Hillman, 17.25; 3. Tiany Schuster, 17.27; 4. Kylie Weast, 17.28; 5. Cheyenne Kelly, 17.33; 6. Ericka Nelson, 13.37; 7. Ali Armstrong, 17.38; 8. Sandy McElreath, 17.50; 9. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.54; 10. Skyla Whitters and Kynder Starr, 17.58.

Bull riding: 1. (tie) Boudreaux Campbell, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Kracker Jack, and Kole Bowman, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Tequila Worm, 86 points; 3. Cullen Telfer, 82.5; 4. Chase Hamlin, 78; 5. Sage Kimzey, 75; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Brunson spurs to Claremore lead

Louie Brunson rides Pete Carr's Django for 85 points to take the saddle bronc riding lead at the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. (PEGGY GANDER PHOTO)

Louie Brunson rides Pete Carr’s Django for 85 points to take the saddle bronc riding lead at the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. (PEGGY GANDER PHOTO)

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Louie Brunson has been ever so close to qualifying for ProRodeo’s grand finale, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

If he keeps riding like he did Friday night at the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo, he might make it there yet. Brunson matched moves with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Django for 85 points to take the early lead in saddle bronc riding.

Louie Brunson

Louie Brunson

“That’s a nice little horse that’s good to get on,” said Brunson, 32, of New Underwood, S.D. “This dang sure helps my confidence. He kind of pumped his head a little bit, which made it tough to work my rein, but the hard part was to not have too much fun. He was so nice, I just didn’t want to fall off him.”

While the smile was wide, the spur stroke was solid. In rodeo’s classic event, cowboys must spur the horse from the animal’s neck to the back of the cantle on the saddle. When done in perfect rhythm with the bronc’s bucking motion, scores get high. That’s exactly what happened for Brunson.

“I’ve been staying pretty close to home,” he said. “When I’ve gone, it’s been good, but this dang sure is a good start to my summer.”

Now he’ll have to hold out through the final two performances to see if his score holds up to claim the Claremore title. For now, though, he holds a 6.5-point lead over the No. 2 man, Bradley Harter of Loranger, La. Is this his time to make a big move to finally make it to Las Vegas in December?

“We’ll see how things go in June,” Brunson said. “If things keep going good, I’ll stay out on the road and see what happens.

“I’d like to make the finals. That’s a huge goal, but taking care of my family comes first.”

With priorities like that, Brunson is already winning.

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore, Okla.
May 25-27
Leaders through first performance
Bareback riding:
1. Lane McGehee, 81 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Sundowner; Colton Delgado, 67; no other qualified rides.

Steer wrestling: 1. Shane Frey, 3.7 seconds; 2. (tie) Jason Tapley and Blake Mindemann, 4.4; 4. Jule Hazen, 4.5; 5. John Kloekler, 4.7; 6. Hunter Washburn, 4.8; 7. (tie) Cody Doesher, Tristan Martin and Eric Manos, 4.9.

Tie-down roping: 1. Trent Creager, 8.4 seconds; 2. Riley Pruitt, 8.7; 3. Shane Hanchey, 9.1; 4. (tie) Cole Bailey and Tyler Milligan, 9.4; 6. Cody Quaney, 9.6; 7. Scot Meeks, 9.7; 8. Layton Little, 10.0.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Louie Brunson, 85 points on Pete Carr ProRodeo’s Django ; 2. Bradley Harter, 78.5; 3. Jake Finley, 76; 4. Jacob Lewis, 73; 5. Mason Laviolette, 66; 6. Joey Sonnier, 65.

Team roping: 1. Cory Kidd V/Caleb Anderson, 5.7 seconds; 2. Quentin Sawyer/Jordan Reynolds, 6.0; 3. Brenten Hall, 6.1; 4. Jesse Stipes/Jake Smith, 6.2; 5. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 6.4; 6. (tie) Dilan Rucker/Whitney DeSalvo and Adam Wallace/Tyler Young, 6.6; 8. Blake Deckard/Cody Heflin, 6.8.

Barrel racing: 1. Jody McKay, 17.20 seconds; 2. Stevi Hillman, 17.25; 3. Tiany Schuster, 17.27; 4. Kylie Weast, 17.28; 5. Cheyenne Kelly, 17.33; 6. Ali Armstrong, 17.38; 7. Sandy McElreath, 17.50; 8. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.54; 8. Kynder Starr, 17.58; 10. Savannah Pearson, 17.60.

Bull riding: 1. (tie) Boudreaux Campbelll, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Kracker Jack, and Kole Bowman, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Tequila Worm, 86 points; 3. Sage Kimzey, 75; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon McSpadden honored in Claremore

The new stone, bearing the likeness of legendary announcer and statesman Clem McSpadden, is put on display near the front of the under-renovation Stampede Park.

The new stone, bearing the likeness of legendary announcer and statesman Clem McSpadden, is put on display near the front of the under-renovation Stampede Park.

CLAREMORE, Okla. – The opening night of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo was the perfect time to celebrate all that Clem McSpadden was.

“We’re here to pay tribute to a man who gave us a lifetime of public service to his community, to his rodeo and to his country,” Claremore City Manager Jim Thomas said Thursday during a dedication for McSpadden and the updated Stampede Park, which is undergoing a transformation and is in the first phase of a three- to five-year renovation plan.

“Stampede Park is a dream for all. It’s a place for cowboys, cowgirls, city slickers, wannabes and families to gather. It’s a park connected by pioneer traditions going back many years. Our generations today area the benefactors of the blood, sweat and tears, which has been produced, the last four years, the PRCA’s best small rodeo of the year. We are indebted to those who came before us.”

The renovation is the brain child of the newly formed Arena Co-op, which includes private entities working alongside the city and county. But the dedication also was a tip of the hat to McSpadden, a longtime rodeo announcer who served as a U.S. Congressman for his home state of Oklahoma. He died in 2008.

A stone with McSpadden’s likeness stands as a welcome to Stampede Park, and that was reveled during the dedication.

“With this being the 10th anniversary of his passing, we thought this was a great time to honor Clem,” said David Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo and a member of the co-op. “Clem was a friend to all of us. Clem announced this rodeo for 50 years. It says at the bottom of this stone here, ‘He was one of us.’

“That’s one of the things Clem would say about everybody … either that or, ‘He’s got his hat shaped right.’ If he said one of those two things, you knew he liked you.”

The evening also included the inaugural Clem McSpadden Tub-Handle Classic, with three rounds of steer-roping competition. It was the perfect accompaniment to the dedication – McSpadden was the longtime voice of the National Finals Steer Roping, which also now bears his name.

“If Clem McSpadden were here right now, he would say, ‘Fellers, I really like this, but why didn’t you take the money and pay the cowboys more?’ ” said Donna McSpadden, his widow.

McSpadden was all about the cowboys. He served as general manager of the National Finals Rodeo during its run in Oklahoma City from 1965-84 and has been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, to name a few.

“Clem was from Rogers County, but he belonged to a whole bunch of other folks around the state of Oklahoma and around the rodeo country,” said Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

But he also was the driving force behind Claremore’s rodeo for half a century.

“He was more than a rodeo announcer,” Petty said. “He was a statesman and a true Oklahoma legend.”

Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo
May 24-27
Claremore, Okla.
Clem McSpadden Tub-Handle Classic Steer roping: First round: 1. Roger Branch, 10.7 seconds, $1,554; 2. Will Gasperson, 10.9, $1,286; 3. Tony Reina, 11.3, $1,018; 4. Cody Lee, 11.9, $750; 5. Mike Chase, 12.2, $482; 6. Trenton Johnson, 12.5, $268. Second round: 1. Corey Ross, 9.9 seconds, $2,554; 2. Mike Chase, 11.8, $1,286; 3. Brady Garten, 12.0, $1,108; 4. Rocky Patterson, 12.4, $750; 5. Martin Poindexter, 12.7, $482; 6. (tie) Vin Fisher Jr. and Cody Lee, 13.1, $134 each. Third round: 1. Tuf Cooper, 10.1 seconds, $1,554; 2. J.P. Wickett, 10.7, $1,286; 3. Vin Fisher Jr., 10.8, $1,018; 4. Corey Ross, 10.9, $750; 5. Brady Garten, 11.8, $482; 6. Jim Locke, 12.0, $268. Average: 1. Cody Lee, 39.7 seconds on three runs, $2,331; 2. Roger Branch, 41.2, $1,929; 3. Trenton Johnson, 45.7, $1,527; 4. Billy Good, 48.8, $1,125; 5. Kelton McMillen, 50.3, $723; 6. Corey Ross, 20.8 seconds on two runs, $402.

postheadericon A day of remembrance

I’m not sure why, but today hit me hard.

It’s been 18 years since my mom died. Maybe it was my aunt’s post about missing her sissy. Maybe it was the comments that revealed a certain specialness about my mom.

Nonetheless, there have been a wide range of tears shed over the last 12 or so hours. Most are happy, recalling the best parts of our lives together. But there were recollections of her cancer, the day the doctors told us it was terminal and that she had but a few weeks to live.

My mom and me in 1979, taken at a photo booth at Six Flags over Texas.

There was that Mother’s Day weekend of 2000, the last time I saw my mother alive. The overnight drive from Oklahoma City to western Kansas to spend what I was expecting were a few short hours with her. Seems the dying body is resilient, though, and she responded. She got better and better every hour, from the weak, “Hello,” upon my arrival to the stern and motherly, “You need to go back to Oklahoma; you have a new job, and you need to take care of that,” when it was time for me to leave.

Truth was, Mom couldn’t go in front of her boys. It was her way of protecting my brother and me, I guess, so I honored her wishes. A few days later, we all returned together to that same home as a community mourned and my family laid her to rest.

Mom was the third child of nine, the oldest sister, and they were raised on the family farm in Kearny County, Kansas. That was part of her life until her death, and she was awfully proud of her roots and her family. She still would be, if you ask me, and I understand why.

She was my biggest cheerleader and the one who could keep me in line with just a look. The one time I remember getting swatted, I jumped out of the way, and she hit her hand on the wall; I swore she broke her finger, and I still feel guilty about it today – some 45 years later.

My mom impacted many lives in her time on this Earth, and I’m so thankful to still see it some 18 years after she left it. I’m thankful for so many things, and maybe these tears have been the perfect reminder for me.

postheadericon Stampede drawing top cowboys

Four-time world champion Sage Kimzey will be one of the hundreds of contestants who will compete this weekend at the Will Rogers Stampede, the four-time PRCA Small Rodeo of the Year in Claremore, Okla. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

Four-time world champion Sage Kimzey will be one of the hundreds of contestants who will compete this weekend at the Will Rogers Stampede, the four-time PRCA Small Rodeo of the Year in Claremore, Okla. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

CLAREMORE, Okla. – The word about the Will Rogers Stampede is spreading across ProRodeo.

This year’s Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 25-Sunday, May 27, at Will Rogers Stampede Arena, and it will feature more than 550 entrants for the competition. That says something about Claremore’s rodeo.

“We’re just continuing to grow, and I think that’s a great thing for this community,” said David Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “At the close of books, we had 631 entries, which is astonishing to me. Based on the most recent ProRodeo Sports News, there are 17 cowboys listed in the all-around standings, and 12 of them are entered for Claremore.”

The event has become a must-see for fans and a place on the schedule for the biggest names in rodeo: 23-time world champion Trevor Brazile, four-time champs Rocky Patterson and Tuf Cooper, two-time titlist Tim O’Connell are just a few of the men scheduled to compete.

“This is really my hometown rodeo, and it’s one of the best in the nation,” said Brodie Poppino, a Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping qualifier from Big Cabin, Okla. “That committee treats the contestants good. They want to win Rodeo of the Year, and there’s a reason they do.”

The Stampede has been recognized as PRCA’s Small Rodeo of the Year for each of the past four seasons, and that distinction was voted on by the cowboys themselves. It’s a regular home to many of the sport’s greatest stars.

In fact, there are more than 60 contestants that have qualified for the national finals, and a dozen of those have claimed world championships. In all, they account for more than 50 gold buckles. All will be testing their talents in Claremore over the Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s good for our schedules to be able to work a good rodeo in like Claremore,” said Sage Kimzey, the reigning four-time world champion bull rider from Strong City, Okla. “It’s a good, central location, and you know the stock’s going to be great.”

That’s because the rodeo teams with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, one of the leading livestock producers in the game. But there’s much more that goes into making the Will Rogers Stampede a success every year.

“They appreciate us being there, but we’re the ones who should be appreciating them,” Kimzey said. “They’re hard-working, and they are happy to put on a great event. They’re a fun group of people to be around.”

That’s been paying off. The number of entries has more than doubled the last nine years, so that says quite a bit about what’s happening in Rogers County.

“One of the things we’re doing is featuring our steer ropers with the Clem McSpadden Tub-Handle Classic,” Petty said of the event, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24. “Clem meant so much to this area, and on the 10th anniversary of his death, we thought this would be a great time to introduce it.”

It is the only rodeo in Oklahoma to feature steer roping, which makes it special to the cowboys who compete in that specialized event.

“You have to hand it to David Petty and that committee for featuring our event,” Poppino said. “Other than the Signature Series Steer Roping, Claremore is the only rodeo that we go to all year that features it, so that’s pretty special. It’s going to have a great purse. When you mix that with a great arena and a great setup, it’s going to be outstanding.”

That’s just what everybody has come to expect with Claremore’s rodeo.

postheadericon Transport pickup is an inspiration

The Cattlemen's Days committee has been utilizing its RAM 1500 pickup not only as a transport vehicle for breast cancer patients in the Gunnison valley but also as a way to inspire other rodeo committees to do as much as they can to help cancer patients in their area.

The Cattlemen’s Days committee has been utilizing its RAM 1500 pickup not only as a transport vehicle for breast cancer patients in the Gunnison valley but also as a way to inspire other rodeo committees to do as much as they can to help cancer patients in their area.

GUNNISON, Colo. – “Tuffy” has been a godsend for many breast cancer patients in the Gunnison valley.

The RAM 1500 pickup was purchased a couple years ago by Cattlemen’s Days Tough Enough to Wear Pink to serve as transportation for those families that receive treatment outside Gunnison County. In addition to that, the vehicle is serving a larger role in professional rodeo.

“We hope that this truck and this committee will inspire other committees around the world to do things to help those that are battling cancer,” said Andy Stewart, the voice of Cattlemen’s Days rodeo, which takes place July 12-14 in Gunnison.

Just two weeks ago, members of the Cattlemen’s Days committee showcased “Tuffy” at the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo, where Stewart was announcing the event that has been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.

“We go to other rodeos from time to time to just show the committees what their Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaigns could do,” said Karla Rundell, who attended the rodeo in the Oklahoma Panhandle with committee president Kevin Coblentz. “Of course, we are very proud of what we’ve done with our pink campaign, but this is more of a way to inspire others to do as much as they can.”

The pickup will return to the Elizabeth (Colo.) Stampede in a few weeks and has also been on display in Greeley, Colo., during the Fourth of July rodeo there.

The Cattlemen’s Days Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign has raised more than $2 million in its 13 years of existence. That money is used to provide all the needed services for breast cancer detection and cancer care in Gunnison.

“With this truck, we are reaching beyond the hospital, doing more than buying a piece of equipment,” Rundell said. “We are getting straight to the breast cancer patients.”

That’s imperative. Some patients still have to travel for specific services throughout Colorado. Having a reliable vehicle helps make those ventures more stress free.

“One thing that is valuable to breast cancer patients in their area is transportation,” Stewart said. “Denver is 200 miles from the rural community, a farming and ranching community, and those that have to go to Denver for treatment may not have any transportation or maybe it’s not reliable or maybe the entire family uses one vehicle.

“The Tough Enough to Wear Pink committee does that free of charge, transporting folks back and forth to Denver or Montrose. This truck is there to relieve some of the stress and help make things a little easier for patients.”

Battling breast cancer is a true fight for patients and their families, and Gunnison’s pink campaign is doing all it can for them.

postheadericon Carr team an asset for Stampede

Isaac Diaz rides Pete Carr's Gold Coast during a recent Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The Carr team has been one of the guiding forces behind the four straight Small Rodeo of the Year awards for the Will Rogers Stampede. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

Isaac Diaz rides Pete Carr’s Gold Coast during a recent Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The Carr team has been one of the guiding forces behind the four straight Small Rodeo of the Year awards for the Will Rogers Stampede. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

CLAREMORE, Okla. – It’s no coincidence that the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo began winning awards soon after teaming with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

The Dallas-based firm began producing the annual Memorial Day weekend rodeo in 2013, and Claremore’s rodeo earned the first of four straight Small Rodeo of the Year honors a year later. That formula will be on display again for this year’s event, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 25-Sunday, May 27, at Will Rogers Stampede Arena.

“When we brought Pete and his crew on board, we felt like it was the right move for us, our rodeo and the community,” said David Petty, the longtime chairman of the committee that organizes the Stampede. “Five years later, we know it was the right call.”

The Carr firm has been recognized as one of the very best in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the premier sanctioning body in the sport. Carr has been nominated five times as PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year.

Moreover, the firm was named the Stock Contractor of the Year in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, which sanctions barrel racing in ProRodeo.

“We are in a time frame of rodeo where money and livestock bring the top guys to town, and that’s what Pete Carr and his staff brings to Claremore,” said Scott Grover, who has been the voice of the Will Rogers Stampede for 13 years. “If you don’t have one of the top stock contractors in the country, sometimes the top guys will pass you up.

“Having Pete Carr has jumped up the firepower of our group of contestants and makes it a more exciting rodeo to be part of and to watch.”

But it’s more than having great animals, and Carr has a bunch of them. Five times, Carr horses have been named the PRCA’s Bareback of the Year: Real Deal, Big Tex, Deuces Night and Dirty Jacket, the latter of which won the title in 2014 and 2015 – before he won that honor, he helped NFR qualifier Bill Tutor win Claremore’s rodeo.

But the real gem of what Carr brings to northeast Oklahoma lies in the small things that help make each performance better. The staff of rodeo professionals works hard behind the scenes to keep every show as entertaining as possible.

“Pete and his guys are known for having one of the best rodeo productions in the sport,” Petty said. “They work closely with our committee to help ensure our fans are getting the best two hours of rodeo they can get.

“It’s a testament to knowing what fans want when they come to a performance. To see that crew work for three performances in Claremore is a testament to what they bring to rodeo and what fans will enjoy.”

Every move made is making the Will Rogers Stampede better than ever.

postheadericon Ward wins Kennewick

Justin Ward jumped to his first Bullfighters Only championship this past weekend by claiming the title at the Tri-Cities Invitational in Kennewick, Wash. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Justin Ward jumped to his first Bullfighters Only championship this past weekend by claiming the title at the Tri-Cities Invitational in Kennewick, Wash. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Rookie scores 91 points to upend BFO’s greatest stars

KENNEWICK, Wash. – It didn’t take long for Justin Ward to find his comfort zone in freestyle bullfighting.

Just two months ago, he was part of the Bullfighters Only Development Camp in San Bernardino, Calif., learning the tricks of the trade. On Saturday night, he put together two winning bouts to upend a handful of veterans and win the BFO Tri-Cities Invitational in Kennewick.

“It was probably one of the greatest accomplishments of my life so far,” said Ward, 22, of Richardton, N.D. “It means I can compete with the best, and hopefully I can eventually win a world title.”

Ward was one of five rookies who were part of the Tri-Cities Invitational, and he escaped the rookie round with an 86.5-point fight to advance to the Hooey Championship Round.

“That was a tough long round,” he said. “Competing against those guys and getting the top score in the long round was amazing.”

Once in the Hooey Championship Round, Ward posted a 91-point fight. It was more than enough to claim the Kennewick title. Ward outscored Beau Schueth, Kris Furr, Weston Rutkowski and Dusty Tuckness. Schueth, who has several victories under his belt, finished second in Washington with an 89.5-point fight. Furr, the No. 3 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings, finished third at 89, while Rutkowski, the two-time reigning BFO world champion, placed fourth with an 88.

“I just had a good bull, probably the best one,” Ward said. “It was a really tough short round. I’d say I was pretty confident freestyling before the weekend, but after going 91 points, I feel like I can definitely do it pretty good now.”

Not bad, especially for a young man just two months into his bullfighting career. He’s been working as a protection bullfighter for four years, and two mentors suggested he give freestyle bullfighting a shot.

“After going to the Development Camp, I realized it was fun, so I decided to stick with it,” said Ward, who grew up roping and qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in steer wrestling before transitioning over to bullfighting. “Being part of the BFO is amazing, because it’s the greatest bullfighters in the world. All I’ve wanted to do was be a professional bullfighter, and now I get to do it.”

RESULTS
Round 1: Beau Schueth, 85 points.
Round 2: Weston Rutkowski, 88 points.
Round 3: Dusty Tuckness, 81 points.
Round 4: Kris Furr, 86.5 points.
Round 5: Justin Ward, 86.5 points.
Hooey Championship Round: 1. Justin Ward, 91 points; 2. Beau Schueth, 89.5; 3. Kris Furr, 89; 4. Weston Rutkowski, 88; 5. Dusty Tuckness, 86.

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