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postheadericon Egusquiza, Summers find the winning formula at Rooftop Rodeo

Team ropers Clint Summers, left, and Dustin Egusquiza look over the arena after winning the Rooftop Rodeo title Monday night. (LYNETTE HARBIN PHOTO)

Team ropers Clint Summers, left, and Dustin Egusquiza look over the arena after winning the Rooftop Rodeo title Monday night. (LYNETTE HARBIN PHOTO)

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Dustin Egusquiza and Clint Summers needed a bit of a break after a stretch of back luck on the rodeo trail.

Dustin Egusquiza shows off his championship spurs.

Dustin Egusquiza shows off his championship spurs.

They got it in this picturesque town in the Colorado Rockies, taking a few days away from the arena to enjoy the cool weather and activities around this community of about 6,000 people who host 4 million visitors every year.

They capitalized on it Monday night by winning the team roping title at Rooftop Rodeo, stopping the clock in 4.1 seconds to claim the championship and $4,204 each.

“It’s a great win,” said Summers of Lake City, Fla. “We were kind of in a slump the last week to so. To come here on Monday and start the week off like this means a bunch.”

Not bad for a couple of Florida cowboys that just started roping together in the last couple of months.

“I’ve always wanted to rope with him,” said Egusquiza of Mariana, Fla. “When I started heading full time, he started heading also. He switched back to heeling, and I needed a partner, so I took the opportunity.”

Clint Summers has competed at Rooftop Rodeo for several years and finally won the spurs.

Clint Summers has competed at Rooftop Rodeo for several years and finally won the spurs.

Both young cowboys see the partnership as a grand opportunity. Both are young: Summers is 24, and Egusquiza is 20. Now they’re trying to take the next steps in their rodeo careers together.

“This guy heads great,” Summers said of his partner. “He has always headed great. He’s a little younger than me. The heading didn’t go so great for me, so I went back to heeling. He had a partner; they split up, so I jumped on when I had the opportunity.”

The competitive tandem has made the most of their time in the resort town by enjoying daily battles of miniature golf. They hope to spend a few more days in Estes Park before heading to their next rodeo.

“It’s my first year coming here,” Egusquiza said. “I’ve loved it ever since we got here two days ago. It’s an awesome place.

“I know there’s a bunch of people here (at the arena), and it looks like they love the rodeo. It’s definitely one of the favorite rodeo’s I’ve ever been to.”

There are a number of reasons, and a packed house every night is a good reason. But there’s much more to Estes Park’s rodeo than is on the surface. From the good prize money to the championship trophy spurs, there are plenty of incentives for rodeo’s greatest stars.

“Every time I’ve ever been here, I’ve come a few days ahead,” Summers said. “The stands are packed. The people are here and love the rodeo and support it. They cheer 100 percent. I think that makes for a fun rodeo.”

Rooftop Rodeo
Estes Park, Colo.
July 6-11, 2016
Bareback riding:
1. Brian Bain, 84.5 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Sugar Daddy, $6,253; 2. Joel Schlegel, 83.5, $4,794; 3. (tie) Richmond Champion and Shane O’Connell, 83, $2,918 each; 5. Blaine Kauffman, 82, $1,459; 6. (tie) Bill Tutor and Wyatt Denny, 80.5, $938 each; 8. Kody Lamb, 80, $625

Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Wade Sumpter, 3.8 seconds, $1,597; 2. K.C. Jones, 4.4, $1,321; 3. Cody Cabral, 4.6, $1,046; 4. (tie) Dakota Eldridge, Billy Bugenig and Josh Peek, 4.87, $514. Second round: 1. Rowdy Parrott, 3.9 seconds, $1,597; 2. Cole Fulton, 4.0, $1,321; 3. (tie) Jarret New and Brian Snell, 4.1, $908 each; 5. (tie) Josh Peek and John Franzen, 4.2, $385 each. Average: 1. Josh Peek, 9.0 seconds on two runs, $2,395; 2. Dakota Eldridge, 9.1, $1,982; 3. Rowdy Parrott, $1,569; 4. Jarret New, 10.3, $1,156; 5. Cole Dorenkamp,  10.5, $743; 6. Jacob Shofner, 10.7, $413.

Team roping: 1. Dustin Egusquizaq/Clint Summers, 4.1 seconds, $4,204; 2. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.4, $3,761; 3. (tie) Cody Snow/Dugan Kelly and Colby Lovell/Travis Graves, 4.5, $3,098 each; 5. Adam Rose/Walt Woodard, 4.6, $2,434; 6. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.8, $1,991; 7. Aaron Tsinigine/Kinney Harrell, 4.9, $1,549; 8. Aaron Macy/Bret Tonozzi, 5.1, $1,106; 8. (tie) Kolton Schmidt/Shay Carroll and Billy Bob Brown/Garrett Jess, 5.3, $443 each.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Hardy Braden, 84 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Hell’s Fire Hostage, $5,499; 2. CoBurn Bradshaw, 82, $4,216; 3. (tie) Jesse Bail and Blaze Cress, 81, $2,566 each; 5. Jacobs Crawley, 80.5, $1,283; 6. (tie) Landon Mecham and Cole Elshere, 80, $825; 8. Tyler Corrington, 79.5, $550.

Tie-down roping: 1. 2. Ike Fontenot, 8.3 seconds, $2,733; 2. (tie) Seth Hall and Ross Tucker, 8.6, $2,301 each; 4. Cory Solomon, 8.7, $1,870; 5. Joseph Parsons, 8.8, $1,582; 6. (tie) Josh Peek and Joe Colletti, 8.9, $1,151 each; 8. Rhen Richard, 9.0 $719; 9. Marshall Leonard, 9.1, $431; 10. (tie) Cody Quaney and Clint Nyegaard, 9.3, $72 each.

Barrel racing: 1. Katie Carroll, 17.51 seconds, $4,042; 2. Sherry Cervi, 17.69, $3,234; 3. Trula Churchill, 17.78, $2,627; 4. Heather Ratterree, 17.81, $2,021; 5. McKinley Goodger, 17.85, $1,617; 6. Kathy Grimes, 17.87, $1,213; 7. Kelly Kennedy-Joseph, 17.89, $1,011; 8. Brenda McMahan, 17.91, $909; 9. Lorie Manning, 17.94, $808; 10. (tie) Sabra O’Quinn and Stevi Hillman, 17.95, $657; 12. Taylor Langdon, 17.99, $505; 13. Kayla Jones, 18.00, $404; 14. Tori Morris, 18.03, $303; 15. (tie) Katelyn McLeod and Ari-Anna Flynn, 18.06, $101.

Bull riding: 1. Kurtis Turner, 84.5 on Cervi Rodeos Rank Frank, $4,672; 2. Josh Frost, 83.5, $3,582; 3. Garrett Smith, 82, $2,647; 4. Tyler Smith, 80, $1,713; 5. (tie) Derek Kolbaba and Jeremy Richard Hanson, 79, $934 each; 7. Dustin Muncy, 78, $623; 4. Ardie Maier, 75.5, $467.

postheadericon Fontenot ropes right into the lead

Rookie tie-down roper Ike Fontenot makes his 8.3-second run on Sunday night to take the lead at the Rooftop Rodeo (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

Rookie tie-down roper Ike Fontenot makes his 8.3-second run on Sunday night to take the lead at the Rooftop Rodeo (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

ESTES PARK, Colo. – A tough tie-down roping competition just got a little tougher.

Ike Fontenot made sure of it Sunday night when he roped and tied his calf in 8.3 seconds to take the lead at Rooftop Rodeo with one night remaining.

“It means a lot,” said Fontenot, a ProRodeo rookie from Ville Platte, La. “It’s a confidence builder; it was a good calf.”

The cowboy sits fifth in the race for the Resistol Rookie of the Year crown with more than $8,800 in earnings for 2016. His solid performance in Estes Park will boost his earnings some; more importantly, it provided momentum at a key part of the rodeo season.

Fontenot grew up in rodeo. Both his parents competed, and his mother qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo.

“My family was mostly team ropers, but I took a liking to calf roping because I didn’t have to depend on anybody,” he said.

While this is his first year as a pro, this is his fifth year on the ProRodeo trail. He spent four years as a permit-holder because he was focusing his time on his studies and collegiate rodeo at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La.

Whether it was at the high school, college or PRCA level, Fontenot has leaned on the same partner, a 14-year-old sorrel mare.

“We raised her, actually got her when she was a weanling,” he said. “We got her trained and showed her in the AQHA. She was a world champion in the quarter horse show. I’ve been riding her since she was six, and she’s 14 now.

“We click together.”

It showed in Estes Park. Fontenot moved ahead of the runners-up, Seth Hall and Ross Tucker, by three-tenths of a second, and he did it in front of another big crowd.

“This has good scenery and good hospitality,” Fontenot said. “Everybody’s really friendly around here, and it’s a good rodeo.”

Rooftop Rodeo
Estes Park, Colo.
July 6-11, 2016
Leaders through fifth performance
Bareback riding:
1. Brian Bain, 84.5 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Sugar Daddy; 2. Joel Schlegel, 83.5; 3. (tie) Richmond Champion and Shane O’Connell, 83; 5. Blaine Kauffman, 82; 4. Bill Tutor, 80.5; 6. Kody Lamb, 80; 7. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Orin Larsen, Tim O’Connell and Grant Denny, 79 each.

Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Wade Sumpter, 3.8 seconds, $1,597; 2. K.C. Jones, 4.4, $1,321; 3. Cody Cabral, 4.6, $1,046; 4. (tie) Dakota Eldridge, Billy Bugenig and Josh Peek, 4.87, $514. Second round leaders: 1. Rowdy Parrott, 3.9 seconds; 2. Cole Fulton, 4.0; 3. (tie) Jarret New and Brian Snell, 4.1; 5. (tie) Josh Peek and John Franzen, 4.2. Average leaders: 1. Josh Peek, 9.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Dakota Eldridge, 9.1; 3. Jarret New, 10.3; 4. Cole Dorenkamp,  10.5; 5. Jacob Shofner, 10.7; 6. Cody Pratt, 10.8.

Team roping: 1. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.4 seconds; 2. (tie) Cody Snow/Dugan Kelly and Colby Lovell/Travis Graves, 4.5; 4. Adam Rose/Walt Woodard, 4.6; 5. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.8; 6. Aaron Tsinigine/Kinney Harrell, 4.9; 7. Aaron Macy/Bret Tonozzi, 5.1; 8. (tie) Kolton Schmidt/Shay Carroll and Billy Bob Brown/Garrett Jess, 5.3.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Hardy Braden, 84 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Hell’s Fire Hostage; 2. CoBurn Bradshaw, 82; 3. (tie) Jesse Bail and Blaze Cress, 81; 5. Jacobs Crawley, 80.5; 6. Landon Mecham, 80; 7. (tie) Tyler Corrington and Treyson Antonick, 79.5.

Tie-down roping: 1. 2. Ike Fontenot, 8.3 seconds; 2. (tie) Seth Hall and Ross Tucker, 8.6; 4. Cory Solomon, 8.7; 5. Joseph Parsons, 8.8; 6. Josh Peek, 8.9; 7. Rhen Richard, 9.0; 8. Marshall Leonard, 9.1; 9. (tie) Cody Quaney and Clint Nyegaard, 9.3.

Barrel racing: 1. Katie Carroll, 17.51 seconds; 2. Sherry Cervi, 17.69; 3. Trula Churchill, 17.78; 4. Heather Ratterree, 17.81; 5. McKinley Goodger, 17.85; 6. Kelly Kennedy-Joseph, 17.89; 7. Brenda McMahan, 17.91; 8. Lorie Manning, 17.94; 9. (tie) Sabra O’Quinn and Stevi Hillman, 17.95; 11. Taylor Langdon, 17.99; 12. Kayla Jones, 18.00; 13. Tori Morris, 18.03; 14. (tie) Katelyn McLeod and Ari-Anna Flynn, 18.06.

Bull riding: 1. Kurtis Turner, 84.5 on Cervi Rodeos Rank Frank; 2. Derek Kolbaba, 79; 3. Dustin Muncy, 78; 4. Clayton Savage, 74; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Braden rides through Hell to the lead

Saddle bronc rider Hardy Braden rides Cervi's Hell's Fire Hostage for 84 points Saturday night to take the lead at the Rooftop Rodeo. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

Saddle bronc rider Hardy Braden rides Cervi’s Hell’s Fire Hostage for 84 points Saturday night to take the lead at the Rooftop Rodeo. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Rodeo isn’t just a sport or a business to Hardy Braden of Welch, Okla.

It’s a way of life, a part of who he is; it’s just like the blood the courses through his veins. It all came together Saturday for 84 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Hell’s Fire Hostage to take the saddle bronc riding lead during the fourth performance of the Rooftop Rodeo.

RooftopRodeoLogo“That’s one of the best horses,” said Braden, who has qualified for the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo on numerous occasions. “I’ve seen him quite a few times, but I’ve never had a chance to get on him. I was super excited to see I had him drawn here. I was really nervous because I didn’t want to mess him up.”

The Oklahoma cowboy will now wait out the final two performances of the six-day rodeo to see if his score holds up for the title and the lion’s share of the purse. He owns a two-point lead over the No. 2 bronc rider in the race for the Estes Park title, Utahan CoBurn Bradshaw.

“I try to make it a regular stop,” Braden said. “It’s on the way normally. We just came from Vernal (Utah). This is a beautiful place, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to just come hang out.”

The rodeo trail can get long and dusty at times, so taking even a day off can be refreshing. Doing so in the mountain region of Estes Park helps. Braden has known this lifestyle since the day he was born. His father, Butch, serves as a pickup man; mom, Tammy, is a PRCA timer who has worked the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“I remember growing up and following my dad,” Hardy said. “He rode saddle broncs forever, and I was a teeny tiny tike and I’d get to sit in his saddles before he’d get on. It’s just something I always wanted to do. It’s bred into me.

“It’s a lifestyle that not everybody gets to live. People who sit in the stands don’t realize what they’re missing.”

Braden pointed to the fans in Estes Park, pointing out that a large number of tourists fill the stands every night. It makes life on the rodeo trail more exciting for the contestants when they can compete in front of an uproarious crowd.

“They get into it,” he said. “When they get it to it, it makes us get pumped up and want to even excite them more.”

It all adds up to a top-flight experience for everyone who makes a stop at Rooftop Rodeo.

“It’s the perfect grounds,” Braden said. “It’s beautiful weather for the first of July. It’s a great rodeo.”

And Braden is one of the leaders through four nights.

 

Rooftop Rodeo
Estes Park, Colo.
July 6-11, 2016
Leaders through fourth performance
Bareback riding:
1. Brian Bain, 84.5 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Sugar Daddy; 2. Joel Schlegel, 83.5; 3. (tie) Richmond Champion and Shane O’Connell, 83; 5. Blaine Kauffman, 82; 4. Bill Tutor, 80.5; 6. Kody Lamb, 80; 7. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Orin Larsen, Tim O’Connell and Grant Denny, 79 each.

Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Wade Sumpter, 3.8 seconds, $1,597; 2. K.C. Jones, 4.4, $1,321; 3. Cody Cabral, 4.6, $1,046; 4. (tie) Dakota Eldridge, Billy Bugenig and Josh Peek, 4.87, $514. Second round leaders: 1. Cole Fulton, 4.0 seconds; 2. (tie) Jarret New and Brian Snell, 4.1; 4. (tie) Josh Peek and John Franzen, 4.2; 6. (tie) Dirk Tavenner and Dakota Eldridge, 4.3. Average leaders: 1. Josh Peek, 9.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Dakota Eldridge, 9.1; 3. Jarret New, 10.3; 4. Cole Dorenkamp,  10.5; 5. Jacob Shofner, 10.7; 6. Cody Pratt, 10.8.

Team roping: 1. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.4 seconds; 2. (tie) Cody Snow/Dugan Kelly and Colby Lovell/Travis Graves, 4.5; 4. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.8; 5. Aaron Macy/Bret Tonozzi, 5.1; 6. (tie) Kolton Schmidt/Shay Carroll and Billy Bob Brown/Garrett Jess, 5.3; 8. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 5.4.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Hardy Braden, 84 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Hell’s Fire Hostage; 2. CoBurn Bradshaw, 82; 3. Jesse Bail, 81; 4. Jacobs Crawley, 80.5; 5. Landon Mecham, 80; 6. Tyler Corrington, 79.5; 7. Rusty Wright, 79; 8. Taygen Schuelke, 78.5.

Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Seth Hall and Ross Tucker, 8.6 seconds each; 3. Cory Solomon, 8.7; 4. Joseph Parsons, 8.8; 5. Josh Peek, 8.9; 6. Rhen Richard, 9.0; 7. Marshall Leonard, 9.1; 8. (tie) Cody Quaney and Clint Nyegaard, 9.3; 10. Brent Lewis, 9.4.

Barrel racing: 1. Katie Carroll, 17.51 seconds; 2. Sherry Cervi, 17.69; 3. Trula Churchill, 17.78; 4. McKinley Goodger, 17.85; 5. Brenda McMahan, 17.91; 6. Lorie Manning, 17.94; 7. (tie) Sabra O’Quinn and Stevi Hillman, 17.95; 9. Taylor Langdon, 17.99; 10. Kayla Jones, 18.00; 11. Tori Morris, 18.03; 12. (tie) Katelyn McLeod and Ari-Anna Flynn, 18.06; 14. (tie) Christine Laughlin and Jenna Waggoner, 18.07.

Bull riding: 1. Derek Kolbaba, 79 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Wolf Greeley Hat Works; 2. Dustin Muncy, 78; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Cali cowboys cruise to the top

Cody Snow, right, turns the steer for his partner, Dugan Kelly, during their 4.5-second run Friday night at Rooftop Rodeo. They took the team roping lead. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

Cody Snow, right, turns the steer for his partner, Dugan Kelly, during their 4.5-second run Friday night at Rooftop Rodeo. They took the team roping lead. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Every young man that grew up in rodeo has had a dream to compete in the sport’s super bowl, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Heeler Dugan Kelly of Paso Robles, Calif., has accomplished that goal six times in a career that began 18 seasons ago. He’s hoping to return to Las Vegas in December with a second-year cowboy, header Cody Snow of Los Olivos, Calif.

RooftopRodeoLogo“I’ve known him since he was a little kid,” Kelly said of his partner. “I’ve had my eye on him for a while.”

On Friday night during the third performance of the Rooftop Rodeo, the tandem stopped the clock in 4.5 seconds to take the team roping lead with just three days of competition remaining. The veteran and the young gun proved they have a solid partnership.

Snow sits 19th in the world standings with a little more than $26,000 in earnings; Kelly sits 14th on the heeling money list with $30,110. If their time holds up for a solid finish, those figures should increase come Monday when the rodeo concludes.

“He knows where to enter everywhere and knows how to win,” Snow said of the veteran. “That’s good.”

Kelly estimates he’s been to Estes Park’s rodeo every year since 1998. Winning the Rooftop Rodeo title would be a great way to not only pad the pocketbook but also give him a great memory in the sport.

“It’s just a great rodeo and (has) a lot of money,” he said about the purse. “You get a good chance to win some money. The weather is nice; it’s beautiful up here and has great atmosphere around here.”

That combination of a top purse and outstanding accommodations is an attractive feature for ProRodeo’s best. About 800 contestants were scheduled to be part of the six days of competition.

“I’ve struggled this last week,” Kelly said. “It felt good to finally catch one.”

Every catch means an opportunity for team ropers earn their way to the NFR.

“I’ve been to the finals, so, of course, that’s my goal to make it,” he said. “I want to be in the top five going in there and dang sure to be in the top five when it’s over. You just want to have a chance; coming into the ninth and 10th round, your name needs to be in the top.”

It is in Estes Park so far.

Rooftop Rodeo
Estes Park, Colo.
July 6-11, 2016
Leaders through third performance
Bareback riding:
1. Brian Bain, 84.5 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Sugar Daddy; 2. Joel Schlegel, 83.5; 3. Blaine Kauffman, 82; 4. Bill Tutor, 80.5; 5. Kody Lamb, 80; 6. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Orin Larsen and Tim O’Connell, 79 each.

Steer wrestling: 1.  K.C. Jones, 4.4 seconds; 2. Cody Cabral, 4.6; 3. Gabe Taylor. 4.9; 4. Jake Fulton, 5.1; 5. Sean Santucci, 5.3; 6. Ross Mosher, 5.4; 7. Jake Kraupie, 5.5; 8. Rowdy Parrot, 5.6.

Team roping: 1. Cody Snow/Dugan Kelly, 4.5; 2. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.8; 3. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 5.4; 4. Monty Wood/Brandon Gonzales, 5.8; 5. Garrett Grieve/Steven Gaona, 66; no other qualified times.

Saddle bronc riding 1. CoBurn Bradshaw, 82 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Exploding Springs; 2. Jesse Bail, 81; 3. Landon Mecham, 80; 4. Tyler Corrington, 79.5; 5. Rusty Wright, 79; 6. Ben Londo, 78; 7. (tie) Jake Watson, Taos Muncy and Andy Clarys, 75.

Tie-down roping: 1. Rhen Richard, 9.0 seconds; 2. Marshall Leonard, 9.1; 3. Braxton Laughlin, 9.6; 4. Travis Lewis, 9.8; 5. Justin Brinkerhoff, 10.5; 6. Chad Finley, 10.6; 7. Garret Arnold, 10.9; 8. Stuart Hoar, 11.3.

Barrel racing: 1. Lorie Manning, 17.94 seconds; 2. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.95; 3. Katelyn McLeod, 18.06; 4. (tie) Christine Laughlin and Jenna Waggoner, 18.07; 6. Cayla Melby, 18.16; 7. Paige Willis, 18.25; 8. C.J. Vondette, 18.28; 9. Benette Little, 18.33; 10. Brittany Kelly, 18.43; 11. Kari Hasler, 18.45; 12. Lesley Chester, 18.56; 13. Kasey Hall, 18.68; 14. Charity Hoar, 18.74; 15. Nicole Waggoner, 18.78.

Bull riding: 1. Derek Kolbaba, 79 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Wolf Greeley Hat Works; 2. Dustin Muncy, 78; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Rodeo known as one of the best

Tie-down roper Clint Cooper, who grew up in Lovington, N.M., competes during the 2015 Lea County Fair and Rodeo in his hometown. The rodeo has been recognized as one of the best in the PRCA.

Tie-down roper Clint Cooper, who grew up in Lovington, N.M., competes during the 2015 Lea County Fair and Rodeo in his hometown. The rodeo has been recognized as one of the best in the PRCA.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Not many people outside this region know of Lovington, nor do they understand much about the community of hard-working folks.

ProRodeo cowboys and cowgirls do, and they look forward to arriving every summer for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13, at Jake McClure Arena. The rodeo is a major stop for the contestants with big money, a historic past and some of the best hospitality they receive on the rodeo trail all year.

That’s why Lovington’s rodeo is regularly recognized as one of the best events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Over the past few seasons, it has been nominated for the PRCA’s Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year.

“It’s an honor to have this as my hometown,” said Kenyon Burns, a professional rodeo cowboy who is the rodeo chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “To know that Lovington, New Mexico, is one of the best rodeos in the world, then to actually be involved with the committee, is out of this world. It’s an honor to ever be asked to be part of it.”

He’s been part of it for a long time, first as a fairgoer, then a contestant. It’s in that role that he understands most what an honor it is for the local rodeo to be recognized as one of the top 20 rodeos in the country, the top five in its division. So does Corey Helton, the fair board’s chairman.

“I’d say we’ve got to win this at some point,” Helton said with a laugh. “It really is a huge honor just to be nominated, considering the rodeos we’re up against.”

The list is powerful in the rodeo world and includes other historic events in Pendleton, Ore.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Ogden, Utah; and Salinas, Calif. Like Lea County, all those events offer lucrative purses and outstanding competition.

Likely the most recognized is the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, which takes place two weeks prior to Lovington’s. Since the award’s inception in 1993, Cheyenne has earned the title 16 times. Pendleton earned the honor in 2015.

“This is a really big deal, especially with me having a rodeo background,” said Burns, a two-time qualifier to the National Finals Steer Roping. “I’ve seen most of the rodeos in the western United States, and for me to be part of the production team and the volunteers that are putting this production together is a notch on my board.

“It’s an honor to be considered to help out. It is worthwhile.”

The rodeo has been on the landscape of the Plains for better than 80 years. The history of Lea County includes Jake McClure and Troy Fort and an entire clan of Coopers, just to name a few. Not only are they part of the local history, they are part of rodeo history.

The tradition and legacy of rodeo in this neck of the woods is as strong as ever.

“There are so many volunteers, both past and present, that have done a great job making this event what it is,” Burns said. “There have been people that have spent years making this rodeo what it is. I tip my hat to them.”

postheadericon Momentum going for Schlegel

Joel Schlegel rides Cervi Rodeo's Little Bo Beep for 83.5 points Thursday night to take the bareback riding lead at the Rooftop Rodeo. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

Joel Schlegel rides Cervi Rodeo’s Little Bo Beep for 83.5 points Thursday night to take the bareback riding lead at the Rooftop Rodeo. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Sometimes momentum swings in the right direction, and that’s the case for bareback rider Joel Schlegel.

He is having the best season of his career with more than $20,400 in earnings; more than half that came last week when he won the championship in Cody, Wyo., and pocketed $10,500 in the process. On Thursday night, Schlegel matched moves with Cervi Rodeo’s Little Bo Beep for 83.5 points to take the lead in the 90th edition of Rooftop Rodeo.

“My confidence is pretty sky high,” said Schlegel of Burns, Colo., a three-plus hour drive through the mountain range southwest of Estes Park. “Showing up today and knowing the horse I had, there’s little to no doubt you’d be excited. I’m riding better than I ever have.”

It showed on the gray horse. Now the Colorado cowboy hopes his score holds out through the remaining four performances.

“We came here last year, and it worked out and won the rodeo,” he said. “It’s cool to come back and say you won it again if you have the opportunity. There are still guys that have good horses and guys that ride great (and they could) just as easy bump me down.

“It’s exciting to do good at a good rodeo right in our circuit.”

Rooftop Rodeo has been recognized as one of the best in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, with only 20 events out of more than 600 that receive nominations annually for Rodeo of the Year. Over the last two decades, Estes Park’s rodeo has been in a regular fixture in that field.

Part of that has to do with an crowd that fills the grandstands every night, considering the rodeo part of their Estes Park summertime experience.

“A lot of people that are here are interested to come (and) have the experience, the show, get involved,” Schlegel said. “It’s good to have a bunch of people cheering you on. If you wave at the crowd, everybody cheers and hollers at you. It’s awesome.”

It’s that kind of experience that pushes him to return to Estes Park every July. Now that he sits 27th in the world standings, he hopes the roller-coaster ride that is ProRodeo will stay on the downhill cycle for a bit longer. Finishing the regular season among the top 15 in the world standings would earn him his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which takes place in December in Las Vegas.

“The ball’s been in my favor this year, and I’d like to keep the momentum going,” he said. “Everybody wants to go ride in Vegas.”

Rooftop Rodeo
Estes Park, Colo.
July 6-11, 2016
Leaders through second performance
Bareback riding:
1. Joel Schlegel, 83.5 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Little Bo Beep; 2. Blaine Kauffman, 82; 3. Kody Lamb, 80; 4. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Orin Larsen and Tim O’Connell, 79 each; 7. (tie) Tyler Waltz and Tanner Phipps, 78 each.

Steer wrestling: 1.  K.C. Jones, 4.4 seconds; 2. Cody Cabral, 4.6; 3. Ross Mosher, 5.4; 4. Rowdy Parrot, 5.6; 5. Mike McGinn, 5.9; 6. Mike Garcia, 6.0; 7. Tristan Martin, 6.2; 8. Ty Lang, 7.2.

Team roping: 1. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.8 seconds; 2. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 5.4; 3. Monty Wood/Brandon Gonzales, 5.8; no other qualified times.

Saddle bronc riding 1. CoBurn Bradshaw, 82 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Exploding Springs; 2. Jesse Bail, 81; 3. Landon Mecham, 80; 4. Rusty Wright, 79; 5. (tie) Jake Watson, Taos Muncy and Andy Clarys, 75; 8. Wyatt Casper, 74.

Tie-down roping: 1. Rhen Richard, 9.0 seconds; 2. Marshall Leonard, 9.1; 3. Braxton Laughlin, 9.6; 4. Travis Lewis, 9.8; 5. Justin Brinkerhoff, 10.5; 6. Chad Finley, 10.6; 7. Cody Collins, 11.8; 8. Paul Carmen, 16.2.

Barrel racing: 1. Jenna Waggoner, 18.07 seconds; 2. Cayla Melby, 18.16; 3. C.J. Vondette, 18.28; 4. Kari Hasler, 18.45; 5. Lesley Chester, 18.56; 6. Kasey Hall, 18.68; 7. Nicole Waggoner, 18.78; 8. Heidi Tillard, 18.94; 9. Pollie Madden, 19.26; 10. Lake Mehalic, 20.52.

Bull riding: 1. Derek Kolbaba, 79 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Wolf Greeley Hat Works; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Payne brings a charge to Roundup

John Payne, whose One Arm Bandit Co. has been recognized as PRCA Specialty Act of the Year on multiple occasions, will be part of the festivities at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for next month.

John Payne, whose One Arm Bandit Co. has been recognized as PRCA Specialty Act of the Year on multiple occasions, will be part of the festivities at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for next month.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – John Payne nearly died 43 years ago.

He was electrocuted, fell 25 feet to what could have been a certain death, then revived by his work partner. It was an event that changed his life that led to the amputation of his right arm. It has defined him in more positive ways than anyone could have realized.

Payne is a cowboy; when he has faced adversity, he tackled in head on like most cowboys would. He turned the potential tragedy into a lifelong pursuit of everything cowboy and has become one of the most decorated specialty acts in ProRodeo. He will return to western Kansas this summer for the 40th edition of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3-Sunday, Aug. 7, at Roundup Arena.

“I’ve always been a showoff, and I’m pretty good at showing off with animals,” said Payne, whose Shidler, Okla.-based One Armed Bandit & Co. has been recognized as act of the year 14 times. “It’s kind of a paid vacation. You get to travel all over the country and get paid for it. But I like to show off the talents of my animals and my horsemanship.”

His  rodeo career began about 30 years ago, when he went to an event close to his home. He told the folks at the Ponca City, Okla., rodeo that he could get a better act if they hired him. He put something together, then went back to ranching. Shortly thereafter, legendary rodeo announcer Clem McSpadden – the longtime voice of Roundup Rodeo – made the call to Shidler.

“He was the one who prompted me into pursuing a career in the entertainment business in ProRodeo,” Payne said. “Clem told me I could do that and make a heck of a living at it.”

He has, and he’s one of the most sought-after acts in the game.

“John is a showman and has been a great fit for Roundup in the past,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “He adds so much to our rodeo. John may look rough in his outfit, but he has a heart of gold.”

That’s probably why so many events try to get the One Armed Bandit back to town as often as possible. Payne has a custom trailer, which allows him and the animals a high perch to show off to the fans. It takes guts and a real horseman to handle the intricacies of the act.

“First of all, he’s got one arm,” said Boyd Polhamus, a four-time PRCA Announcer of the Year and the voice of Roundup Rodeo. “It’s one thing for someone to do it. It’s amazing in its own right, but John’s got just one arm. No one else can copy that.

“You’re riding, messing with buffaloes. You’re a stud. There’s just something about that buckaroo. He’s just got a buckaroo look to him. He just looks the part. It’s a Wild West show. He is, by himself, an eight-minute Wild West show. It’s going to be Western, and it’s going to be fun.”

There are many great acts associated with ProRodeo, but none provides the flavor of the One Armed Bandit.

“If his act goes according to plan, it’s going to be awesome,” Polhamus said. “If it doesn’t go as planned, it’s going to be awesome.”

That’s just what rodeo fans in western Kansas have come to expect with Roundup Rodeo.

postheadericon Jones slides into Rooftop lead

Steer wrestler K.C. Jones of Decatur, Texas, took the early lead in steer wrestling on the opening night of the 90th edition of Rooftop Rodeo. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

Steer wrestler K.C. Jones of Decatur, Texas, took the early lead in steer wrestling on the opening night of the 90th edition of Rooftop Rodeo. (GREG WESTFALL PHOTO)

ESTES PARK, Colo. – K.C. Jones won’t win a title at the Rooftop Rodeo this year, but that didn’t stop the Colorado-born cowboy from making his way to Estes Park.

On Wednesday night, the Decatur, Texas, cowboy wrestled his steer to the turf in 4.4 seconds to take the first-round lead in steer wrestling for the 90th edition of Rooftop Rodeo.

K.C. Jones

K.C. Jones

“I entered this rodeo for Wednesday night because I thought this was going to be a one-header,” Jones said, referring to one-round events. “I have to turn out my second steer, because I’m out in Calgary (Alberta) for the first set there Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”

While most events at Rooftop Rodeo will feature one round, steer wrestlers will compete in two. Payouts will be made in each round, then to the top contestants in the two-run aggregate.

“It pays $100,000, and last year it fell over the Fourth (of July),” Jones said of Calgary. “This year it worked out that I’m just going to have to miss one steer.”

Still there’s a bit of a disappointment for the cowboy who was raised a few hours away.

“I grew up in Colorado, so I’ve been coming here since Little Britches Rodeo,” he said. “I was telling the guys in the rig that the good thing about Estes Park is there’s a lot to do.”

And the rodeo action is top flight. Wednesday’s performance featured numerous qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, including world champions like saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy, bull rider Shane Proctor and tie-down ropers Shane Hanchey and Caleb Smidt.

“The (committee) really cares about the contestants,” Jones said. “They put shavings in the stalls, and the stalls are free. They have great hospitality and feed you all day long. You can tell they appreciate you coming to town. We appreciate the extra effort they put into catering to our needs.

“We spend a lot of money going to these rodeos. Any time we can get a break, we appreciate it a lot.”

It shows in the annual nominations for rodeo of the year and in the nearly 800 contestants that have signed up to compete at this year’s Rooftop Rodeo.

It also shows in the world-class competition in the Rocky Mountains.

Rooftop Rodeo
Estes Park, Colo.
July 6-11, 2016
Leaders through first performance
Bareback riding:
1. Blaine Kauffman, 82 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Monkey Mistress; 2. Kody Lamb, 80; 3. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Orin Larsen and Tim O’Connell, 79 each; 6. Kyle Charley, 70; 7. Seth Coursen, 60; no other qualified rides.

Steer wrestling: 1.  K.C. Jones, 4.4 seconds; 2. Cody Cabral, 4.6; 3. Ross Mosher, 5.4; 4. Mike McGinn, 5.9; 5. Ty Lang, 7.2; no other qualified times.

Team roping: 1. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.8 seconds; no other qualified times.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Jesse Bail, 81 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Hell’s Fire Hostage; 2. Rusty Wright, 79; 3. (tie) Jake Watson and Taos Muncy, 75; 5. Wyatt Casper, 74; 5. Louie Brunson, 72; 6. Dustin Flundra, 71.5; 7. Nat Stratton, 68; 8. Zeke Thurston, 61.

Tie-down roping: 1. Rhen Richard, 9.0 seconds; 2. Marshall Leonard, 9.1; 3. Braxton Laughlin, 9.6; 4. Cody Collins, 11.8; 5. Jim Breck Bean, 19.3; 6. Cy Eames, 21.6; no other qualified rides.

Barrel racing: 1. Cayla Melby, 18.16 seconds; 2. Lesley Chester, 18.56; 3. Heidi Tillard, 18.94; 4. Pollie Madden, 19.26; 5. Lake Mehalic, 20.52; 6. Hali Scott, 23.31; 7. Jane Melby, 25.16; 8. Rachel Dice, 28.13.

Bull riding: 1. Derek Kolbaba, 79 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Wolf Greeley Hat works; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Community enjoys PBR event

GUYMON, Okla. – The landscape of the Oklahoma Panhandle can be rugged, but so are the people that make it their home.

They work hard and are proud. That’s exactly why they deserve some world-class events that make their way to Guymon, like the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR BlueDEF Velocity Tour event, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate; children 5 and younger are free.

Stormy Wing

Stormy Wing

“This is a rural area, cowboys and farmers that know and enjoy rodeo and bull riding,” said Nina Webb, one of the volunteers with Guymon’s PBR event. “When this all started, one of the members from the Pioneer Days Rodeo committee stopped by the house and talked about getting a PBR here. We got with the chamber, and we started going forward.”

Now the PBR returns to Texas County for the third straight year. It’s become a staple in the town of about 12,000 residents, and the reasonable admission fee is part of the reason – advanced tickets may be purchased for $15, a discount from the $20 cost at the gate; children ages 5 and younger are admitted free.

But it’s also because many of the top bull riders in the game make their way to Guymon every summer. That’s a testament to the type of event local organizers produce, but also to the crowd that has made the cowboys feel right at home.

Not only does the community support the bull riding, but so do other neighboring communities. Fans from throughout a five-state region – Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado – find their seats and enjoy the show.

“If you’re going to do something, you want to do it right,” said Wing, a six-time PBR World Finals qualifier from Dalhart, Texas. “I want it to be one of the best events in the PBR. I want the guys to talk about it.”

The guys are the world-class bull riders who make up the top names in the PBR. Many of them will be in Guymon for the one-night event. It’s truly a drawing card for not only fans but also others who appreciate community events.

“Every May we have the top cowboys in rodeo come in for Pioneer Days Rodeo,” said Jim Quimby, chairman of the rodeo committee and also a volunteer for the Guymon PBR. “We want that to be the same for our PBR event in July.

“We have a lot of people here that know the bull riders, know the bulls, and they want to see the best in Guymon. We want to bring them the best.”

It’s about to happen.

postheadericon Concerts hit to the heart of fair

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Over the last few years, the Lea County Fair and Rodeo has hung its hat on having the perfect combination of concerts to go with its annual exposition.

The 2016 edition is no different, with six nights of great shows headlining the full fair experience in Lovington.

Neal McCoy

Neal McCoy

“I’m excited that there was a lot of input from the community about dances and having more of the personal bands from around here,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “There was some feedback that they wanted to see a lite more home-grown people. That’s why we have some of the acts like Jody Murph and Jody Nix. We’ve been getting a lot of requests for that.”

Nix, in fact, will be the featured act on the opening Saturday night, Aug. 6. Nix began his career at age 8 playing drums for his father’s band all over West Texas. He follows a trio of concerts – Los Traviezos, La Marquinaria and Arrolladora – that will be part of Hispanic Heritage night on the first Friday, Aug. 5.

While Nix’s roots are in Western swing, William Clark Green will show off a direct and hard-hitting style of music during his Tuesday, Aug. 9. Matthew West, a four-time Grammy nominee who has won numerous Christian music awards, will be the featured act on Wednesday, Aug. 10. West has sold more than 1.2 million albums and provides the perfect entertainment for the fair’s Faith and Family Night.

Murph – a singer/song writer from Justin, Texas, who holds a passion for Texas Music – will showcase his talents Thursday, Aug. 11.

Justin Moore

Justin Moore

“We’ve got several nights of music that people will want to dance to,” Helton said. “But we also wanted to make sure everybody got to have the big music acts we’re all so used to at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo with Neal McCoy and Justin Moore. Those two acts are going to be a great way to close out our event.”

McCoy has been a chart-topper for a couple decades. In fact, he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009, with five top 10 hits to his credit. He will take the stage after the rodeo on Friday, Aug. 12.

Moore, the 2014 ACM New Artist of the Year, has multiple ACM, ACA and ACC award nominations, all while showcasing two gold albums. His style will be on the main stage on Saturday, Aug. 13. Moore’s fourth studio album, “Kinda Don’t Care,” is set to be released the day before his Lovington concert.

“We’ve been able to mix the dancehall music with some top-level acts for this year’s concert lineup, and I’m very excited about that,” Helton said. “I think this lineup is exactly what our fairgoers have been wanting for several years.”

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