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postheadericon Carr ready to be part of Crossett traditions

CROSSETT, Ark. – For many years, the great Jim Shoulders produced the Crossett Riding Club PRCA Rodeo.

It’s something quite special to have one of the greatest legends in the game be such an integral part of a community, and it’s an important piece of lore that should forever be remembered in the event’s history. You see, not only was Shoulders a 16-time world champion cowboy, he also was a stock contractor, best known for owning the great bull Tornado, which had gone unridden until ProRodeo Hall of Famer Freckles Brown scored a ride during the 1967 National Finals Rodeo. Shoulders is, and always will be, a big part of rodeo’s history.

PeteCarrClassicLOGONow, though, Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo is charged with the production of Crossett’s rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7-Saturday, Aug. 10, at Cap Gates Arena in Crossett. The times may have changed since Shoulders first arrived in town, but the eye for production is a big part of what the Pete Carr’s Classic crew strives for every August.

“This thing is great from start to finish,” said ProRodeo announcer Scott Grover, now in his fifth year calling the action. “It’s just a great rodeo that’s steeped in tradition.”

That’s a great marriage for one of America’s first extreme sports, which has its foundation laid firmly in the livestock industry. More than a century ago, cowboys tested their skills against one another, whether with a rope or on the back of a bucking horse. Over time, the sport has evolved into the spectacle that it is today. It continues to be one of the fastest growing spectator sports in the country, and events like the one in Crossett are a big reason why.

“Our goal is to put on a first-class production that benefits the fans, the committees and the contestants,” said Pete Carr, who owns not only Pete Carr’s Classic but also Carr Pro Rodeo, the largest stock contractor in the world. “We’ve got great crews that work very hard to make that happen.”

That’s what it takes to be successful in today’s world of rodeo. By handling the behind-the-scenes details, Carr crew members allow for the happenings in the arena to dictate the action, and that’s something the fans have come to love.

“The rodeo is put on by the Crossett Riding Club, which is a huge tradition in Crossett and the surrounding areas,” Grover said. “This is like families that have been here for years on years on years.”

It’s one of many traditions for the rodeo, now celebrating its 65th year. Another big one involves the payout of silver dollars to the winners of each event each night of the rodeo. Each year means another dollar added to the kitty, so this year means the winners will receive 65 silver dollars.

“That’s one thing the contestants talk about is winning the silver dollars in Crossett,” Grover said. “Another big thing is that there will be 300 to 400 horses every night in the grand entry, and there are riding clubs from all over that are part of it.

“This rodeo was nominated as the medium size rodeo of the year last year, so they really do work hard at making everything right.”

From a large grand entry to kick start each performance to a rousing conclusion featuring amazing Carr bucking bulls, there’s a lot for fans to experience at the Crossett rodeo.

postheadericon Volunteers make fair a success

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Brad Weber is an empty-nester, having raised five children at his home on the outskirts of Hobbs, N.M.

His children were involved in 4-H and were always involved in the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. For Weber, that meant handling the little details that came with raising livestock and getting things ready for the shows and exhibits. His life was dedicated to it, primarily because he saw it as a great way to teach his kids responsibility.

“All my kids are 10 years apart, so we’ve been showing animals for a long time and participating for a long time,” he said, noting that his wife is a 4H leader in Lea County. “We believe in it. We believe it builds integrity in the kids, that it keeps their minds and their bodies busy and keeps them in a better environment.”

Lea County Fair LogoNow in his early 50s, it’s time for Weber to sit back and relax and enjoy the fruits of that labor. But that’s not exactly how the man is wired.

No, Weber continues his involvement in the annual exposition, now serving on the Lea County Fair Board. In fact, he’s the chairman for this year’s event, which this year takes place Friday, Aug. 2-Saturday, Aug. 10, in Lovington.

“The community is very supportive of our fair and rodeo, but I think what makes it successful is the volunteers who make it work,” he said. “Because of our county commission, we’ve been able to keep the prices cheap so everybody can go. It’s not an expensive night out. Even folks on a pretty tight budget can go, and that shows that we’re able to give back to the people of the community, too.

“It’s a unique event. We’ve got the incredible support from our commissioners. They give us the freedom and support to stretch it further and further each time. They believe wholeheartedly that this is the county’s money, and this is an opportunity for the county to give back to the people.”

Volunteers are the backbone of the organization. Yes, it’s great that the county underwrites the fair and rodeo, but there’s no way an event of this caliber is possible without the core group of people who donate their time, talent and financial resources.

“We have tremendous volunteers, people who are really dedicated to it,” said Weber, who is right there with them as a volunteer. “It just blows your mind to see people that are so involved, and a lot of them don’t have children involved in it anymore. That’s what really makes it nice.

“It’s all about the dedication of these volunteers. When you look at someone like Greg Massey, his dedication shows in the fact that we’ve got one of the top rodeos in the nation, and we keep trying to make it better. I know pretty much it’s Greg Massey pushing for that, and we all benefit from that.”

When he’s not doing the fair’s work, Weber owns Lea County Roadside in Hobbs; only the latter pays the bills, because he donates his time year-round to the fair and rodeo.

“I’ve been self-employed all my adult life,” said Weber, who moved to Lea County about 30 years ago. “I recently bought a towing business, and it’s the first time I’ve owned a business of value. Before that I was in construction.”

All that experience comes into play with the annual expo.

“Brad’s knowledge is very helpful,” said Dean Jackson, a longtime member of the Lea County Fair Board. “He’s a good leader. Brad knows a little bit about everything, and there aren’t too many volunteers that are going to do what he does.

“That’s what you get with a lot of people on the board, that they are just going to give and give and give. It’s a love. It’s a lot of work, too, so it takes a lot of love for the event to continue to volunteer.”

Weber is from White Face, Texas, just northeast of Lea County. Upon graduating from College, he found his way to southeastern New Mexico, and he’s been there ever since.

“I didn’t even know where Hobbs was,” he said. “I got out college so broke that I packed everything I owned on a little motorcycle and came on down to work. I found a job and just muddled my way through. I haven’t gotten more than 100 miles from where I started.”

He also found a home and finds his passions in his volunteerism and his faith.

“I’ve been through a lot of stuff, and the good Lord has tended me the whole way; that’s always amazed me,” Weber said. “I love seeing how much this teaches our kids. They learn better responsibilities. I love seeing that, and you can tell the kids that have worked really hard.

“That’s one of the most satisfying things about this for me.”

postheadericon Carr helps make local rodeo great

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The men and women who handle all the local logistics of the rodeo side of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo continue to find new and better ways to excite the crowds.

They also have leaned heavily on livestock producer Pete Carr to handle the heavy load during the rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7-Saturday, Aug. 10, at Jake McClure Arena. Carr owns the largest stock contracting company in the world, having acquired Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo earlier this year and mixing it together with his own Carr Pro Rodeo.

Now he’ll bring even more power to Lovington just as he has done at the other 33 rodeos he produces in 2013.

Pete Carr

Pete Carr

“Pete Carr is at the top of his game,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board’s rodeo committee. “He has outstanding stock, and he wants it to be the very best it can be. I think we’re very fortunate to have Pete at our rodeo.”

For a number of years, many of the greatest animals in the game have led cowboys to victories in Lovington. Over the last two years alone, cowboys have been crowned champions in southeastern New Mexico on broncs like Real Deal, the 2005 world champion bareback horse; Dirty Jacket, the 2012 runner-up reserve world champion bareback horse; and Miss Congeniality, a saddle bronc that has been chosen to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2011-12.

With the acquisition of Pete Carr’s Classic, this year just got that much better. At last year’s NFR, seven of those animals guided cowboys to go-round victories: Kattle Katie, Scarlet’s Web, Bipolar, Lori Darling, Gold Coast, River Boat Annie and Cool Runnings. Also in that magnificent herd is Big Tex, the 2010 Bareback Horse of the Year that is being considered as a contender for the 2013 Saddle Bronc of the Year.

“Pete just brings us a first-class rodeo,” Massey said. “He has National Finals Rodeo-quality bucking stock, and he brings a lot of professionalism to our rodeo. Pete always delivers a lot more than he promises. He has a genuine interest in the rodeo, wanting to make it the best it can be. I appreciate that.”

So do contestants, and it’s not just the guys that ride bucking beasts that are talking about the significance of Carr rodeos.

“To me, Pete Carr is one of the new wave of stock contractors as much about one end of the arena as he does the other,” said Trevor Brazile, a 17-time world champion who owns a record 10 all-around gold buckles. “There have been stock contractors that don’t really have a complete rodeo. In my opinion, Pete puts on a complete rodeo.

“Pete has the best livestock there is to offer at both ends of the arena,” he said, referring to timed events and rough-stock events. “That’s something most stock contractors don’t have to offer … mostly that they don’t care enough to go the extra mile to do what Pete does. It costs him a little more for him to put on a rodeo because he wants it to be right.”

Brazile is just one of many who look at the hard work done by the Carr crew when they consider where they’ll go to compete.

“If I’ve got a tossup as to one rodeo or another and I see that Pete Carr has one rodeo, I know that if I go to Pete Carr’s rodeo I’ll have a better chance of winning money because the field’s fair,” Brazile said. “I know Pete’s doing his part. I know he’s going to have the best timed-event cattle. Those cattle are going to give everybody an even shot, and fans can learn to appreciate what they’re seeing.

“When you allow the contestants a shot at the best cattle, it brings the best out, which, in turn, makes for the best show for the fans.”

Carr’s crew works closely with local organizers to make the Lea County Fair and Rodeo a prestigious event each August.

“We’ve put in a lot of things to make our rodeo a better experience for everyone involved,” Massey said. “We want the contestants to talk about our rodeo all year long, but that’s just part of it. We want our fans talking about the rodeo, too.”

postheadericon Letting the storyteller tell stories

‘The Ride with Cord McCoy’ allows cowboy, minister to discuss his passions

Joe Howard Williamson is a cowboy, a minister and a storyteller, and he’s the perfect fit for the July 29 episode of “The Ride with Cord McCoy.”

Williamson owns Switchouse Ranch near Henrietta, a small north Texas community tucked just southeast of Wichita Falls, about a stone’s throw from the Red River that borders Oklahoma. He’s proud to carry on the legacy of being a cowboy, and he wears the hat as well as anyone could.

“I met him at a bull riding when he was preaching,” said McCoy, a reality TV star, bull rider and, now, host of the show that airs at 1 and 11 p.m. Mondays on RFD-TV. “We just kept running into each other and became friends. I was asked to give my testimony at a PBR cowboy church, and he was the preacher that day. I went to Fort Worth and did a celebrity cutting that served as a fund-raiser, and he was also there.

Joe Howard Williamson

Joe Howard Williamson

“I just thought he was a pretty diverse, interesting man. I had heard a lot about his ranch. After becoming friends and knew what kind of guy he was, I wanted to go spend more time with him.”

The good thing is he lets the viewers in on the comfortable visit with Williamson.

“I think with any man like that, if you just sit down with them and visit a little bit, you can definitely tell what’s important to them real quick,” McCoy said. “With him, he wanted to talk about the gospel, and he wanted to talk about cutting and ranching. It’s neat to go into somebody’s place and showcase what they do.”

The updating editing of the show does just that. Since the show re-launched July 1, the enhanced presentation tells a wonderful tale. In this case, editors and producers of “The Ride” allowed Williamson to weave his magical tones.

“We run around 1,200 cows here in Archer County,” Williamson said in the show. “We do everything horseback.”

What else would viewers expect from a traditional cowboy who reads his Bible and shares the testimony of his faith?

“One summer when I was in junior high, I got to drinking,” he said. “I loved the way it made me feel. I drank quite a bit through high school. When I got off to college, I drank bad. I got married the first time (and) had trouble in my marriage because of my drinking and drug use.

“The Lord took her home in a car wreck. (It) just broke my heart.”

Distraught and ashamed that alcoholism and drug addiction were ruling his life, Williamson leaned on an old childhood acquaintance.

“I went back to church, and I heard the gospel,” he said. “I was really contemplating if that’s what I needed to do, give my life to the Lord. I went to a treatment center for drugs and alcohol. I quit drinking and drugging, but I still didn’t have any peace. In 1988, I made the decision to trust Christ as my Savior.”

He began working with Dawson McAllister, a prominent youth minister from Nashville, who encouraged Williamson to consider horse ministry. It was an amazing combination of things Williamson loves. He developed Horsemen for Christ in 1994.

“I knew it was important for me to become a winner,” he said. “I knew if I could get competitive and be good at it, it would be a platform to share the Lord with a lot of people.”

So he became competitive and began qualifying for the National Cutting Horse Association World Finals in 1996 – he’s been back every year since. He won titles in 1999, 2004 and 2006 in the non-pro division.

It all enables Williamson the opportunity to live a life he loves and share his passions with others, including a little one-on-one time with McCoy in the cutting pen.

“When you get on someone else’s horse, that the horse is a contender for a world title, you feel like a sponge for information,” McCoy said. “You feel like you’re about 90 percent concentrating on the cow and 10 percent on what Joe Howard is going to say next. You’re all ears trying to pay attention.”

And that’s what viewers will be during the next episode of “The Ride with Cord McCoy,” a showcase for cowboys who love what they do.

postheadericon Roundup champs ready to repeat

World champion Clay O'Brien Cooper awaits the championship round introductions on the final night of the 2012 Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. Cooper won the rodeo with partner Chad Masters, and now Cooper hopes to repeat when the rodeo kicks off next week in Dodge City, Kan.

World champion Clay O’Brien Cooper awaits the championship round introductions on the final night of the 2012 Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. Cooper won the rodeo with partner Chad Masters, and now Cooper hopes to repeat when the rodeo kicks off next week in Dodge City, Kan.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Clay O’Brien Cooper owns seven world championships and has competed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 26 times in a career that began 35 years ago.

He also owns four ruby-filled buckles as champion of Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, his most recent coming a year ago. They fit quite nicely with Cooper’s ample trophy case, but he’s not yet done chasing his rodeo dreams and the titles that come with them. That’s why he’ll be one of nine of ProRodeo’s greatest stars defending their titles at this year’s event, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 31-Sunday, Aug. 4, at Roundup Arena.

“It was a pretty significant win for us because it’s a very good paying rodeo,” said Cooper, a heeler from Stephenville, Texas, who roped last season with eventual world champion header Chad Masters of Clarksville, Tenn. “It provided us with enough money to clinch the finals for us. It was also a tour rodeo, which gave us points that we were able to capitalize on at the end of the year because of the tour bonus, which also counted toward the NFR and the world championship points.”

The money is a big reason cowboys make Dodge City a destination point each season, but there are many others. Roundup offers the largest purse of any rodeo in Kansas, and it’s one of four in the Sunflower State that week. There’s also great hospitality, which is a western Kansas staple.

“They make an effort to put on one of the best rodeos of the summer,” said Cooper, who finished No. 2 in the world standings last season, pocketing $6,770 in Dodge City. “It’s not only prize money-wise, but just the way they treat the cowboys. I’ve been going there for years and years. I enjoy that time of year, and Dodge City is one of the best rodeos in the country.

“That’s a big weekend, and Dodge City is the biggest one of the weekend. That’s the one where you want to do good.”

He and Masters shared the distinction of Roundup champions with all-around champion Cody DeMoss of Heflin, La.; bareback rider Steven Dent of Mullen, Neb.; steer wrestler Billy Bugenig of Ferndale, Calif.; saddle bronc rider Chuck Schmidt of Keldron, S.D.; tie-down roper Justin Maass of Giddings, Texas; barrel racer Kaley Bass of Kissimmee, Fla.; and bull rider Trey Benton II of Rock Island, Texas.

“It’s pretty cool if anybody can beat Trevor Brazile out of anything,” DeMoss said, referring to the 17-time world champion who owns 10 all-around gold buckles. “The all-around, I think is a prestigious deal anywhere you go, and I’m just happy to have one from Dodge City.

“It’s an old historical rodeo and will probably be around forever. Whenever you can tell your kids and your grandkids that you won the all-around title at Dodge City, it’s pretty cool.”

DeMoss is best known for saddle bronc riding, for which he is a nine-time qualifier to the NFR, ProRodeo’s grand finale. But he won most of his money ($2,192) by placing second in the second round of team roping while partnering with header Kaleb Driggers of Albany, Ga. He earned the remainder of his $4,041 riding broncs, where he finished fourth overall.

“I like the fact that it’s got some history there,” DeMoss said. “It’s an old cowboy town.”

Like Cooper, this wasn’t his first Roundup buckle. In fact, DeMoss won the 2010 bronc riding crown when he scored a Roundup Arena-record 92-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Medicine Woman. Owning multiple Dodge City titles looks good on a resume and gives contestants an advantage as they close out each season the end of September.

“Dodge City is one of my favorite rodeos of the year,” said Maass, who rode into Las Vegas as the No. 1 tie-down roper in the world before finishing second at the NFR’s conclusion. “That’s the second time I’ve been fortunate to win it. Being a tour rodeo and with that much money, it’s pretty important to win for us.

“It’s one of the premier rodeo’s we’ve got and one with the best traditions. It’s a pretty special one to win.”

Now it’s time to add a third title to his resume.

“That rodeo’s been good to me over the years; I’ve won quite a bit at it,” Maass said. “I’m not sure if it’s that rodeo or that setup fits my style or what, but I like it. I think I’ve won the first round six or seven times; that’s a pretty good percentage.

“I’ll keep going back as long as I’m rodeoing.”

So will hundreds of others who are part of ProRodeo’s elite status.

postheadericon Commission is key to a successful fair

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Everybody needs a reason to celebrate.

Whether you run a ranch near Jal or work 9 to 5 for a business in Hobbs, there’s a need to get away from the grind, spend time with friends and honor one another together.

The Lea County Commission knows that as well as anyone, which is why the governing body puts in the time and money to fund the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Aug. 2-10 in Lovington.

Lea County Fair Logo“Our fair and rodeo is a quality-of-life deal for the county,” said Dale Dunlap, now in his fifth year on the commission. “It brings in outside people and brings in a lot of contestants and vendors. It provides a lot of economic impact to Lea County.

“It’s something we’ve always done, and it’s always something that keeps getting bigger and better.”

How much does the county put toward the annual exposition?

The event boasts of six outstanding concerts, including headliners like Sara Evans and Josh Turner; a PRCA Xtreme Bulls Tour event; a Wrangler Million Dollar Tour rodeo with elite rodeo stars and world-class animal athletes; a respected livestock show; and a host of other activities for patrons of any age.

Oh, and the admission price is just $7.

“We want to show the people that we’re interested in giving them entertainment,” said Dunlap, who previously had spent six years on the Lea County Fair Board. “We want to give back to the public and show them that we spend their tax dollars wisely.”

Dunlap moved to Lea County with his family at the age of 1. In the mid-1980s, he developed D&T Backhoe Inc., and continues to run it today. He said his service on the commission is his way of representing his community.

“I sought out to represent the whole county,” he said in explaining why he’s serves. “There were some things that I wanted to voice my opinion on, and the best way to do that was to run for office. I enjoy trying to make things happen and trying to make our county a better place to stay.”

One of those things is tying all the strings together to make the fair and rodeo a special event for the county’s 65,000-plus residents.

“Our commission is behind us 100 percent,” said Dean Jackson, a member of the fair board. “They underwrite this whole thing. We’re all on budgets, but they are very generous with the budget they provide us. When you look at the lineup we have at our fair, it’s unreal.

“There aren’t too many places that can do this.”

The fair has been recognized statewide as one of the best in New Mexico, and others in the region have taken note, too. None of it is possible without the county’s support.

“We’ve been blessed that we’ve had commissioners that understand about our fair and rodeo,” Jackson said. “They’ve had kids involved, and the county does a great job of taking care of this place. We have a facility that is awesome.”

Dunlap said he enjoys many of the events that take place during the expo, but he holds a special fondness to one major aspect.

“The thing I really enjoy is the sale,” he said. “If you’re a member of the fair board and you’ve put in more than 100 hours that week alone, when the sale comes, you know that’s what it’s all about.

“Our sale teaches the young folks the responsibility and that it could pay off in the long run. You see business owners and others that live in the county, and they all come out and support it hard, and they never look back. That tells a youngster we’re behind you. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”

postheadericon Rodeo successful with Carr stock

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Cody Martin rides NFR bucking horse Miss Congeniality, a Carr Pro Rodeo bronc who has guided cowboys to the title in Lovington, N.M. The Carr Pro Rodeo horse is one of many from Pete Carr that will perform in Lovington from Aug. 7-10. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Cody Martin rides NFR bucking horse Miss Congeniality, a Carr Pro Rodeo bronc who has guided cowboys to the title in Lovington, N.M. The Carr Pro Rodeo horse is one of many from Pete Carr that will perform in Lovington from Aug. 7-10. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The livestock industry has long been a way of life for many folks in southeastern New Mexico.

The beauty of the Plains is in the way hard-working people raise their animals, whether it’s to feed the world or to work the landscape the best way possible. There’s tender, loving care that goes into each beast, and respect comes with it.

That just might be the biggest reason residents have a love affair with the bucking horses and bulls that are highlighted annually during the Lea County Fair & Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7-Saturday, Aug. 10, at Jake McClure Arena.

“We’ve been very blessed to have a great relationship with our producer, Pete Carr,” said Greg Massey, the rodeo chairman for the Lea County Fair Board. “Pete comes in here every year and tries to make each rodeo better than the one before, and he’s got some of the best bucking horses and bulls in rodeo.”

That has been true for many years, but the 2013 version looks as though it’s taken a heap of steroids. Earlier this year, Carr acquired Classic Pro Rodeo, a company that’s been in business better than 20 years and has also featured some of the greatest animal athletes in the sport. Now Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo will bring a massive storm of bucking thunder to Lovington.

All told, Carr owns 31 animals that were selected to perform at the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. In all, he has owned three PRCA Bareback Horses of the Year: Real Deal in 2005, Big Tex in 2010 and MGM Deuces Night in 2012. Those are just the cream of a very talented crop that includes Dirty Jacket, the runner-up reserve world champion bareback horse, and River Boat Annie, the 2007 reserve world champion bareback horse.

For each of the four performances of Lea County’s rodeo, top-notch NFR bucking talent will be part of the equation. That’s something pretty special for rodeo fans in Lovington that only Carr provides.

“When you look down at the list of livestock, it’s just exceptional what we’ll have at our rodeo,” Massey said. “With Pete bringing Classic on board, that’s just going to make our rodeo and every other rodeo Pete does that much better.”

The contestants not only know that, but that’s one of the reasons they make sure Lovington is on their annual to-do list. For years, cowboys have chased good bucking stock all over the country. Throw in the fact that the Lea County Fair and Rodeo offers a large purse and is part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, and there are significant factors contributing to the very best athletes in the game competing in Lovington every August.

Last year, two-time reigning world champion Kaycee Feild matched moves with another world champ in Real Deal. The combination was 89 points to win the rodeo and nearly $4,500 – that all came back in the long run when Feild claimed his second straight gold buckle with $276,850.

“That’s what I ride bucking horses for is to get on the rankest, baddest horses,” Feild said, acknowledging that Real Deal has quite a reputation, one that has him as part of the eliminator group of broncs at the NFR every December. “I can prove, not only to my friends but also to myself, that I can spur anything and that I can spur the bad ones.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster when you can get on a bad one and spur him every jump.”

True Lies, an NFR bronc, has guided cowboys to the winner’s circle two of the past three seasons. Last year it was veteran saddle bronc rider Travis Sheets, while Louie Brunson won the Lea County title in 2010. In between, two-time NFR horse Miss Congeniality helped Cody Angland to the top spot and also helped Alex Wright to a second-place finish in the two times she performed in Lovington.

This year, the chances for record-breaking scores have increased. Big Tex is now in bronc riding, and in the three times he performed in the late winter and early spring, he helped cowboys to event titles: Tyler Corrington won in San Antonio, Wade Sundell won the $50,000 round in Houston and Curtis Garton won the national title at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.

“We got to be with Pete last year after Deuces Night was named the bareback of the year, and we got to see how much pride he has in those great animals,” Massey said. “I think the cowboys see that, too, and it’s why they want to come to Lovington and get on his horses and his bulls.

“What Pete’s got now is pretty dang special.”

postheadericon Daily shows a big part of local fair

The Ham Bone Express Pig Races are just part of the fun and frivolity that is the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which takes place Aug. 2-10 in Lovington, N.M.

The Ham Bone Express Pig Races are just part of the fun and frivolity that is the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which takes place Aug. 2-10 in Lovington, N.M.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The Lea County Fair and Rodeo has a powerful history of amazing entertainment.

From the top-name acts that put on outstanding concerts every year to the carnival rides to the daily entertainment, fair-goers get a lot for their $7 admission price. There aren’t many places where a person can watch pigs race, be enthralled by a two-person acrobatics show and experience the comedy and talent of a ventriloquist.

But that’s the reality of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which will have daily entertainers from 5 p.m. to closing every night of the fair, from Aug. 2-10. This year’s lineup includes ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, the Equilibrium Circuis and the Ham Bone Express Pig Races.

Ventriloquist Kevin Johnson returns to Lovington this year to be part of the daily fun at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

Ventriloquist Kevin Johnson returns to Lovington this year to be part of the daily fun at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

“We try to find the things that will please the crowds,” said Dean Jackson, a member of the Lea County Fair Board.

Ham Bone Express is operated by the Borger family, and they bring their action and comedy show to Lovington from northwest Arkansas. It’s funny, fun to watch and fast-paced, and the Borgers claim to have “The Swiftest Swine Off the Line.” It has four races with four pigs in each race, and the master of ceremonies keeps the crowd involved by assigning cheering sections, with each section having a designated “rooter,” or cheerleader.

The special cheerleader of the winning pig is awarded a prize at the end of each race, while the winning animal receives a treat.

“They loved the pig races, so we wanted to bring that back,” Jackson said.

The tandem of Paz and Leah present the ancient circus art of hand-to-hand with quirky twists as they perform a number of tricks and stunts that may not be seen anywhere else. They also add a little heat to the equation in the form of fire.

The Equilibrium Circus features the award-winning duo, who show off their athletic talent and creativity. With more than 30 years of combined experience, they have appeared in film, television, theater, street performance and live events.

Johnson, who started ventriloquism at age 9, has a pretty good pedigree, too. He was self-taught, but he was drawn to entertaining quite naturally – his grandfather, Harley Noles, performed magic shows throughout Colorado and offered a spot in his lineup should Johnson develop his act well enough.

When Johnson was 13, he opened for his grandfather, performing for five minutes with a wooden puppet that his grandfather made him. Since then, he has appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “America’s Got Talent.”

When it all comes together, it’s just another reason why the Lea County Fair and Rodeo is one of the most happening places to be in New Mexico each summer. Of course, great entertainment at a great price always is attractive.

postheadericon Carr firms ready for Eagle rodeo

EAGLE, Colo. – Carr Pro Rodeo has been an established piece of the pie for the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo for several years.

The pie just got a little tastier.

Andy Stewart

Andy Stewart

“Pete Carr has been bringing the best animals in the world to Eagle for a long time,” said announcer Andy Stewart, now in his second year calling the action of the rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24-Saturday, July 27, at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. “Now that he has Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo along with Carr Pro Rodeo, rodeos like Eagle get that much better.”

Carr acquired Classic this past April and has been atop the rodeo world as the largest livestock producer in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. All told, he owns 31 animals that were selected to perform at the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The greatest of those will be in Eagle.

“I’m combining two of the best crews in rodeo to form one of the greatest rodeo companies,” said Pete Carr, the owner of the outfits. “I’m excited about the new opportunities that are ahead for the company. I want committees to know we have a lot to offer them. We’re going to have unprecedented resources for all the rodeos, which will benefit everyone involved: committees, sponsors, contestants and spectators.”

Pete Carr

Pete Carr

Nearly 400 of ProRodeo’s most decorated contestants are scheduled to be part of this year’s championship. The numbers continue to grow, but that’s because they know they can expect great things to happen in the mountain air.

“Pete Carr is there, and he brings all the great horses that we all want to get on,” said Casey Colletti, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Pueblo, Colo. “The cool thing about Eagle is that everything bucks so well there that you never know what’s going to win.”

In 2013, the firms will produce 34 rodeos in 13 states and have some of the greatest animal athletes in the sport. That’s a big reason the big names in the sport will find their way to Eagle in July.

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

“Pete’s got a heck of a string put together,” said saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell, a four-time NFR qualifier from Boxholm, Iowa. “There are not a lot of people that can match him anymore.”

Sundell has earned more than $55,000 on Carr livestock this year, including the $50,000 top prize for winning the championship at RodeoHouston, riding Pete Carr’s Classic’s Big Tex for 90 points.

“It’s awesome when you have a good horse underneath you, because you know something good is going to happen,” he said.

If history tells a tale, it should be an outstanding rodeo again. Great bucking beasts just add to the excitement. Take Grass Dancer, for example, the 12-year-old buckskin mare has been to the NFR four times. At Eagle in 2009, she matched moves with Ryan Gray for a world record-tying 94 points.

“Eagle is a pretty special place, even if we’re just talking about the atmosphere,” Carr said. “The animals just love the weather there.  It’s really cool for us as well when you figure we’re a Texas livestock company. Getting to go to Eagle in July from this kind of heat in Texas is a nice change for all of us.”

postheadericon Big-league lineup set for Xtreme Bulls

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Some of the greatest athletes in bull riding will converge on southeastern New Mexico in early August.

Some of the world’s top cowboys will try to ride them for one of the most coveted titles in the sport during the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Jake McClure Arena. This is the second year the bull riding tour has made Lovington one of the biggest stops of the season, and the bull power and big-money purse are key reasons why the top bull riders in the game will come to town.

Kanin Asay rides Wild Card Rodeo’s Plaid Shirt during the short go-round of the 2012 Lea County Xtreme Bulls event in Lovington, N.M. Asay won the average title and earned nearly $8,000. Because of injury, the bull rider will be unable to defend his title, but that just opens the door for a number of other great cowboys to claim the top prize. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

Kanin Asay rides Wild Card Rodeo’s Plaid Shirt during the short go-round of the 2012 Lea County Xtreme Bulls event in Lovington, N.M. Asay won the average title and earned nearly $8,000. Because of injury, the bull rider will be unable to defend his title, but that just opens the door for a number of other great cowboys to claim the top prize. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

“We have a tremendous lineup of bulls,” said Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo and the livestock producer for the bull riding and the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. “It’s going to be amazing with the caliber of bulls we have coming this year.”

That’s why world champions and others from ProRodeo’s elite will take any means possible to be in Lovington for the event. The list of entrants reads like a who’s who of bull riding, from reigning world champion Cody Teel to 2011 champ Shane Proctor to three-time titlist J.W. Harris.

“With the Xtreme bull riders in Lovington, it should be something people will talk about for a while,” said Carr, who has invited three other contracting firms to town to provide a banner list of bucking power. “I think this is something that will draw a lot of fans to town, because it’s going to be that good.”

Of the 60 bulls that are scheduled to be part of the festivities, many of them bucked at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this past December. Having top-notch stock is one drawing card for cowboys, but the money is another.

“What’s big is you get a chance to ride for a lot of money,” said Cody Whitney, a four-time NFR qualifier from Sayre, Okla. “If you do good and you win, it’s going to pay well. Not only do you want to win that kind of money, but it shoots you far enough in the standings so that you can take a deep breath and relax; you don’t have to stress so much about making the finals.”

A year ago, during the inaugural Lea County Xtreme Bulls, veteran Kanin Asay won the title and nearly $8,000. He went on to win the Xtreme Bulls Tour year-end championship and qualified for the NFR for fifth time in his career, finishing the season seventh in the world standings with nearly $130,000.

It was just another reflection of why the Lovington event is so valuable to the contestants.

“I think it’s good for Lovington because not only will it help their numbers in bull riding contestants, but it will really help their crowd grow for the Xtreme Bulls and the rodeo, too,” Whitney said.

When it comes together right, it’s a win-win for everyone – from the contestants to the fair board to the fans who flock to Jake McClure Arena to witness the incredible action.