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Two-time world champion Scott Snedecor of Fredricksburg, Texas, added another prestigious title to his resume Tuesday afternoon.

Snedecor, a 13-time qualifier to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Rodeo, roped and tied three calves in 26.8 seconds to win $4,862. It marked the second time in his career that the Texan has claimed the Dodge City Roundup steer roping championship.

Scott Snedecor

Scott Snedecor

“Just being Dodge City is important for us,” he said. “Part of the attraction of this rodeo is the buckle they give; that was one of the elite buckles that stick out when you see it on somebody.

“The committee here works so hard, and we all really appreciate Mike (Lehmke) for sponsoring steer roping. They really do take care of us.”

Snedecor split the opening-round victory with Troy Tillard of Douglas, Wyo.; both cowboys posted 11.2-second runs. Mike Chase of McAlester, Okla., won the second round with a 10.4-second run, while Neal Wood of Needville, Texas, scored a 10.2 – the fastest run of the day – to win the final round.

Snedecor first won the Roundup buckle in 2008, the same year he won his second world title – he also won the gold buckle in 2005. Heading into the week, he was fourth in the world standings with more than $42,000

“The year started out good; I’d won $15,000 before January,” he said, noting that the rodeo season runs from Oct. 1-Sept. 30 each year. “My horse tore up his flexor tendon in March, and I went through seven or eight horses trying to get one to work.”

But friends came through. In fact, Snedecor has borrowed a horse from fellow roper Shandon Stalls of McLean, Texas, the past two weeks, and it’s paid off. He has earned more than $20,000 in that span.

“This horse is 21 years old, and he’s pretty good,” Snedecor said. “He stays out of my way and lets me work. This event is probably more demanding of horsepower than any event. When you get off one, you’ve got to trust it. It takes a special horse. There aren’t many out there like that.”

postheadericon O’Mara wins Dodge City Xtreme

DODGE CITY, Kan. – For the better part of the last three years, Jacob O’Mara has spent more time on the disabled list than any athlete would like.

It’s especially hard for rodeo cowboys, who have no guaranteed contracts. The only way they make money is to win it, and O’Mara has been at his Baton Rouge, La., home a lot more than he’s been on the rodeo trail.

Jacob O'Mara

Jacob O’Mara

“I’ve had a lot of down time and a lot of home time, but I wouldn’t take it back,” he said. “If God wouldn’t have put me through and allowed me to go through the things I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today spiritually and a lot of my personal live. I’m thankful for that.”

He has returned with a vengeance, winning Tuesday night’s Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls title. He rode 4L and Diamond S Rodeo’s Lil Warrior for 86 points to win the championship to earn $4,963.

O’Mara won Roundup’s bull riding title in 2011 and parlayed that into a qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He finished the year fifth in the world standings, but that was followed by a series of injuries that have left him away from the game he loves for months at a time.

  • A torn wrist tendon that required two surgeries in 2012
  • A broken leg early in the 2013 season
  • A torn thumb ligament in August 2014.

“I feel good right now,” said O’Mara, who was ranked 33rd in the bull riding standings heading into this week. “I had to take a couple weeks off in June because I bruised my rotator cuff, but I came back strong. I had a decent Fourth (of July run); I placed in the middle of the pack but felt like I was riding good.”

As is the case with any sport, there are definite slumps that come along. He experienced a short one last week.

“It lit a fire in me to come back here,” he said. “Being familiar with this rodeo and having had success here, it’s a comfort zone. I’m glad to get that fire underneath me and want to let it roll from here.”

O’Mara was just a half point better than 2011 world champion Shane Proctor of Grand Coulee, Wash., who finished second. Dustin Bowen of Waller, Texas, placed third with an 83.5, while Dodge City-born bull rider Tyler Hessman of Beaver, Okla., finished in a three-way tie for fourth with Brett Stall of Detroit Lakes, Mich., and Caleb Sanderson of Hallettsville, Texas, with 83s

A little more than two months remain in the 2015 regular season, and cowboys must be in the top 15 in the world standings if they want to play for the biggest pay in the game at the NFR.

“We’ve got enough time left, but it’s crunch time,” O’Mara said. “If I’m going to make a shot for the NFR, I’ve got to keep the ball rolling.”

Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls
Dodge City, Kan.
July 28
1. Jacob O’Mara, 86 points on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Lil Warrior, $4,963; 2. Shane Proctor, 85.5, $3,805; 3. Dustin Bowen, 83.5, $2,812; 4. (tie) Brett Stall, Caleb Sanderson and Tyler Hessman, 83, $1,268 each; 7. Reid Barker, 82, $662; 8. (tie) Guthrie Murray and Trevor Kastner, 81, $248 each.

postheadericon Winnsboro is ready for rodeo week

WINNSBORO, La. – There is something special in this community that comes to town every summer.

It’s the Deep South PRCA Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, July 30-Saturday, Aug. 1, at Deep South Rodeo Arena in Winnsboro. It’s a busy week for local organizers, and it’s a big week for the staff of Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, which will produce event.

PeteCarrsClassicLogo“Pete brings some really good stock to our rodeo, and that’s really good for us,” said Skipper Stinson, a key member of the committee that produces the annual rodeo. “That helps make our rodeo better. The better the cowboys and the better the stock, the better the rodeo is going to be.”

Some of the top names in the game have found success in Winnsboro, including Louisiana cowboys who try to make their way back home to compete at the event even through the rigors of the rodeo schedule.

“When you go to Pete’s rodeos, you know you’re going to have a shot to win first,” said bareback rider Winn Ratliff of Leesville, La., a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who also added victories at Carr events in the Texas towns of Weatherford, Nacogdoches and Crosby. “You have to do your part and ride good, but if you do your job, you’re going to have the opportunity to win the rodeo.”

That’s often the case, no matter where the Carr animals perform.

“Pete Carr is one of the premier stock contractors in the world,” said saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La. “Pete taking it another step further is amazing to me. It’s just going to make it better for everybody.”

DeMoss is the reigning champion at the Deep South Rodeo, so he knows as well as anyone. A year ago, he matched moves with Carr’s Night Train for 88 points to win the Winnsboro title.

“Pete has such an array of horse now that no matter where he goes, he will have it to where everybody has a chance to win money,” DeMoss said. “It’s a riding contest instead of a drawing contest, and that’s what Pete’s got in his mind to do. I’m behind him all the way.”

That bodes well for those who have plans to take in the annual rodeo.

“It is a very established rodeo that’s been around a long time,” said Andy Stewart, the rodeo’s announcer from nearby Collinston, La. “We saw a lot of great cowboys from that area over the years that come to that rodeo.”

The legacy is still growing.

“We get a lot of the circuit cowboys to come, and we get a lot of the great guys from our area,” said Stewart, who has been nominated six times as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announcer of the year. “The thing that Pete Carr and his crew provides at this rodeo is professionalism and production.

“This is a very small arena and a very small community, but we bring in a great production and great animals. It’s a great, professional show.”

That’s just what fans want.

postheadericon Rodeo a hot spot for top stars

LOVINGTON, N.M. – There are many reasons why the Lea County Fair and Rodeo is recognized as one of the biggest and best events in ProRodeo.

From hospitality to award-winning livestock to an amazing purse, the regional exposition is home to a highly touted event among the top professionals in the game. This year’s rodeo is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8, at Jake McClure Arena on the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.

Lea County Fair Logo“There are fans that don’t get to see rodeo outside Lovington, but we’re trying to put together a rodeo they’d want to see anywhere,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We strive to put together a National Finals Rodeo experience for them right here at home. I think we’ve been able to do that.”

Indeed. Each of the past two seasons, the Lea County Fair and Rodeo has been a top-five finalist for the Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Annually the rodeo features the numerous world champions and regular NFR qualifiers all vying for a shot at the coveted championship.

Just look at the reigning Lovington champions as proof: 21-time world titlist Trevor Brazile earned the steer roping crown en route to his fifth steer roping gold buckle; four-time world champ J.W. Harris won the bull riding title; three-time year-end winner Tuf Cooper won the tie-down roping crown; 10-time NFR qualifier Cody DeMoss won saddle bronc riding; three-time finalist J.R. Vezain earned the bareback riding championship; and steer wrestler Ty Erickson added the title en route to his first NFR qualification.

“Pete Carr’s been around our rodeo long enough that people know his stock, and I think the contestants look at that a lot when they enter,” Massey said. “I think there’s a friendliness to the event with what we do for the contestants.

“We have the schedule and the format so they can compete here and still be able to make it to all those other big-money events that same week.”

Barrel racers and roughstock cowboys – those who ride bucking horses and bulls – all compete in one go-round, while other timed-event contestants compete in two rounds. Steer wrestlers, team ropers and tie-down ropers will compete in the first round during their given day, with the top performers returning to compete in the evening performances for the second round; the rest will run in Round 2 during the afternoon performance.

The format allows for the cream of the crop to play the game in front of some of the most knowledgeable fans in the game and others who are in Lovington to take in all the entertainment possible through the fair.

Many of the top contestants have ties to Lea County, including team ropers Jim Ross Cooper and Jake Cooper of Monument, both of whom are among the top cowboys in their given disciplines; tie-down roper Clint Cooper, a five-time NFR qualifier who grew up in Lovington; Marty Jones, a 16-time finalist, in both tie-down and steer roping, from Hobbs; and bareback rider Luke Creasy, an Alberta-born bareback rider who is trying to secure his first berth to the finals while living in Lovington.

“In talking to the cowboys during the NFR, the one thing I hear across the board is they like the atmosphere here in Lea County,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “They feel like we do everything we can to accommodate them. That’s got to be one common denominator for our rodeo.”

Hundreds of ProRodeo’s greatest stars make their way to Lea County every August for a lot of reasons. The fans reap the rewards.

postheadericon Elite riders ready for Xtreme Bulls

Sage Kimzey, the 2014 world champion bull rider, competes at a recent Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Kimzey utilized the Xtreme Bulls tour last season en route to becoming the first rookie in more than 50 years to win the bull riding gold buckle.

Sage Kimzey, the 2014 world champion bull rider, competes at a recent Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Kimzey utilized the Xtreme Bulls tour last season en route to becoming the first rookie in more than 50 years to win the bull riding gold buckle.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Rodeo is nothing new to the folks in Lea County; many know all the intricacies that go into each event.

The Lea County Fair and Rodeo features the very best bull riders in the world on one night during Lea County Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, at Jake McClure Arena.

“It’s an extraordinary event,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We’re going to have the top 40 bull riders all here competing. Rodeo fans will get to see their favorites, but it also draws a bit of a different crowd, people that enjoy thrill-seekers.

“Our Xtreme Bulls has grown every year. It’s been a big hit.”

Tim Bingham

Tim Bingham

The 2014 championship was a huge hit for Tim Bingham, a 23-year-old bull rider from Honeyville, Utah. He won both go-rounds – he scored 89.5 points to win the first round on Salt River Rodeo’s Lucky Dog, then followed with a 91 on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Lineman. It was the perfect finish for a solid week on the ProRodeo trail.

“That was my first Division I win,” he said of the elite level of Xtreme Bulls competition, which also features a Division II level. “Division I events throw out the big money.”

That’s true. By dominating the event in Lovington last August, Bingham pocketed $11,577. His big-time run began the week before by winning the Division II event in Dodge City, Kan. He also earned paydays in Abilene, Kan., and Sidney, Iowa, to earn more than $18,000 in eight days.

“By winning both rounds, I maxed out on what I could get in Lovington,” said Bingham, who parlayed that run and a few others into his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s premier championship that crowns world champions each December. “That win threw me up in the standings so high that I was ensured I was going to make the NFR. There was no stress needed.

“That threw me so far off the bubble, I knew I was going. At the time, it moved me into contention for the world title. I had a legitimate shot at winning the world title with that big boost.”

In rodeo, dollars not only pay bills, they also count as championship points. Contestants in each event that finish with the most money are crowned world champions. Bingham ended the 2014 campaign with $115,670, good enough for seventh place in the world standings. The Xtreme Bulls tour made a big difference in how the Utah cowboy finished the season.

“It’s very important, because they pay good and it’s just bull riding,” Bingham said. “In the money I won last year, $20,000 came in the Xtreme Bulls. It made a big difference to my standings and placing in the world.”

The tour also is important for fans who love a good show. The Lea County Xtreme Bulls features the top 40 bull riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competing in one go-round. The cowboys with the top 12 scores advance to the championship round, and the overall winner is the cowboy with the best aggregate score on two rides.

“The fans who come to our Xtreme Bulls tell us how much they enjoy it, so it’s a valuable part of our fair and rodeo,” Massey said. “It is an awesome production to watch.”

Yes, it is.

postheadericon Circuit champs ready for big week

DUNCAN, Okla. – Next week’s run of rodeos is a vital time in the schedule of the Prairie Circuit’s top players.

ProRodeo cowboys and cowgirls call it the “Kansas Run,” because of the weeklong series of events that take place primarily in the Sunflower State. It’s a great opportunity for the sport’s stars to earn big paydays while competing at events that are within close proximity to one another. That includes those battling for the regional honors.

Billie Saebens

Billie Saebens

The “Kansas Run” is a vital cog for those hoping to qualify for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15-Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.

The biggest event in the region is Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, which is part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour and offers the largest purse among all events in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Also in Kansas are events in Hill City, Phillipsburg and Abilene, and a couple of other communities that border the Prairie Circuit also count their events toward the standings.

Gretchen Benbenek

Gretchen Benbenek

How important is the run that concludes the first weekend in August? Each of the nine year-end champions utilized those earnings to claim their crowns last season, with heeler Billie Saebens and barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek pulling in the largest sums. Saebens, who competed with header Adam Rose last season, won the title in Sidney, Iowa, and finished third in the three-run average in Dodge City. He pocketed $6,575.

Benbenek cashed checks at four stops; she finished fourth in Dodge City and placed in Abilene, Phillipsburg and Sidney to add $6,000. It helped to propel the Montana-born cowgirl to her second straight regional crown.

Steer wrestler Stockton Graves won Hill City and earned nearly $1,000, while bareback rider Caine Riddle shared the victory in Phillipsburg and placed in Abilene and Sidney to collect $2,784. Header Andrew Ward, roping with his brother, Reagan, finished fourth in Phillipsburg, earning $2,108, while tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger earned $2,176 in Hill City and Abilene.

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

Chet Herren took advantage of the only event of the week that held steer roping in Dodge City, placing in the second round to add a little more than $1,000, while bull rider Bart Miller won the first round and finished second in the average inside Roundup Arena to pocket $4,591.

Saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell posted the highest marked ride of the 2014 season with a 92 during the championship round in Dodge City to win the two-ride average championship; he also added money in Phillipsburg to deposit $4,600.

The week is filled with promise and opportunity, and last year’s winners need to capitalize again if they hope to return to the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo and have a chance to defend their titles.

It should be worth it for fans, too.

postheadericon Champion scores 90 on Dirty Jacket

Richmond Champion and Pete Carr Pro Rodeo's Dirty Jacket match moves for the fifth-round victory at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals. The tandem matched Thursday night for the third time in less than a year and posted a 90-point ride Wednesday night in Eagle, Colo. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

Richmond Champion and Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket match moves for the fifth-round victory at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals. The tandem matched Thursday night for the third time in less than a year and posted a 90-point ride Wednesday night in Eagle, Colo. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

EAGLE, Colo. – Richmond Champion knows what it’s like to be on the perfect joyride.

“The only bad thing is when you get the whistle, you don’t want to stop,” said Champion, a 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from The Woodlands, Texas.

He’s talking about matching moves with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket. On Wednesday night, the tandem met again during the first performance of the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo; they danced across the Johnette Phillips Arena dirt for 90 points to take the early lead in bareback riding.

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

It marked the third matchup in less than a year for Champion and Dirty Jacket, the 2014 Bareback Horse of the Year; Champion won the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo last July after a 91-point ride on Dirty Jacket, then won the fifth go-round at the 2014 NFR on the 11-year-old bay gelding.

“It’s been a heck of a year so far,” said Champion, who is ranked 42nd in the world standings and needs a big push through the remaining weeks of the 2015 season if he’s going to return to Las Vegas for ProRodeo’s finale. “I was so excited. It was the first one I’ve drawn this year that I’ve jumped out of the van and went for a run.

“he horses buck up here in Eagle. The cool weather and the mountains make it awesome.”

It marked the fourth time this season that Dirty Jacket has been at least 90 points: He matched moves with Jessy Davis for 93 points at the San Angelo Cinch Shootout in February. Dirty Jacket posted 90 points in Weatherford, Texas in June, and two weeks later posted a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association best 92-point ride in Pecos, Texas.

“He looked awesome and felt outstanding,” Champion said of the horse. “He’s definitely one of a kind. I felt good. Regardless if that score holds up to win, it always feels good to be 90 and make a good ride.”

Through the struggles that have been Champion’s season, he continues to battle through the roller coaster that is ProRodeo. He said traveling with four-time world champion Kaycee Feild, NFR-qualifier Davis and Mason Clements has helped a ton, but there’s a lot more to bareback riding. On a 100-point scale, half the points are awarded to the cowboy, with the other coming from the horse.

Getting the right horse at the right time makes a big difference. The Texas cowboy hasn’t had as many opportunities this season as he did in 2014.

“Things have progressively been getting better now regarding my riding,” Champion said. “I’ve got a new riggin’ and a new pad, and I’m going out of my way to set myself up for success. My drawing good horses is picking up, too.

“Of course, having Dirty Jacket will help turn your whole world around. There’s literally not another horse like him.”

postheadericon Daily shows provide variety to fair

Conjurer Robert Smith will be one of the featured daily entertainers at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington, N.M. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Conjurer Robert Smith will be one of the featured daily entertainers at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington, N.M. (COURTESY PHOTO)

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The versatility of daily entertainers is a big reason the Lea County Fair and Rodeo has been attractive spot for longtime attendees.

This year’s lineup is no different. From conjurer Robert Smith to The Great Bear Show, fairgoers will have the opportunity to experience a little bit of Hollywood magic and an inspiring tribute to some of the world’s most majestic animals during this year’s exposition, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.

Lea County Fair Logo“I think the daily entertainers gives people a broader spectrum to our fair and rodeo,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “Everyone knows there’s going to be the concerts, the rodeo and the carnival, but this adds a variety to what’s out there.”

The Great Bear Show features cubs that were adopted through either state wildlife agencies or the United States Department of Agriculture, who contact show organizers to find the young bears a home.

The Great Bear Show staff takes the cubs in, trains them to be handled safely and try to find them good homes in licensed centers that have room.

“We also take them on the road to events to educate the public about bears in the wind and captivity,” stated information from the show’s website.

Smith’s conjurer persona was inspired by the coin-operated fortune-teller machines but features a new twist. Imagine the Tom Hanks movie “Big,” in which young Josh makes a wish to be big, which led to Hanks’ classic portrayal of a boy in a man’s body.

The entertainers are set up to be the perfect fit for families and other fair-goers who enjoy the overall fair experience that comes with the reasonable ticket prices – admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children daily.

“What we want with our daily entertainment is for people to have something new and different, and we’re definitely getting that this year,” Helton said. “I’m excited to see it myself and to hear what others have to say about these acts.”

postheadericon Roundup a key stop for rodeo’s best

Trevor Brazile, the most decorated cowboy in ProRodeo history with a record 21 world championships, typically competes in all of his disciplines at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He owns world titles in tie-down roping, heading, steer roping and the all-around. He is one of numerous gold buckle winners that compete annually at Roundup Rodeo.

Trevor Brazile, the most decorated cowboy in ProRodeo history with a record 21 world championships, typically competes in all of his disciplines at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He owns world titles in tie-down roping, heading, steer roping and the all-around. He is one of numerous gold buckle winners that compete annually at Roundup Rodeo.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – When most people think of Dodge City, they conjure up images of the Old West and Matt Dillon.

Rodeo folks look at the western Kansas community of nearly 28,000 as the home of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, an important roadway as an important path on the rodeo trail. This year’s event is set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 29-Sunday, Aug. 2, at Roundup Arena.

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

“This rodeo has helped a lot of people make the finals and win the world,” said Wade Sundell, the reigning Roundup saddle bronc riding champion. “I’ve always wanted to do good at this rodeo.”

Until 2014, the Iowa-born cowboy had just about anything but success inside Roundup Arena.

“I’ve done bad at it every year,” said Sundell, a six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Coleman, Okla., who posted a 92-point ride in the championship round to win the two-ride aggregate and earn more than $4,000. “This is awesome to win it.”

Roundup is one of just 18 events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association that has a championship round. That says a lot considering there are more than 600 ProRodeo events in a given year.

Christine Laughlin

Christine Laughlin

Sundell was one of 12 contestants who won titles at the 2014 Roundup Rodeo. Barrel racer Christine Laughlin of Pueblo, Colo., had the biggest earnings of all, pocketing just shy of $8,000 by placing in all three go-rounds – she won the first round and final rounds and finished fifth in the second.

“I had my hopes high when I went back last year, because Sabrina (Ketcham) had won that year and barely beat me,” said Laughlin, who qualified for the NFR and finished the campaign 14th in the world standings. “That’s one of those big rodeos that you’re really excited with you win that buckle. It felt just as prestigious as any other because it was Dodge City. It’s a pretty neat deal.

“That committee tried really hard, because the conditions with all the rain and mud weren’t ideal. Hats off to the grounds crew; they did an awesome job.”

She was one 10 winners in 2014 to have qualified for the NFR. In fact, just steer roper Tyrel Taton and steer wrestler Timmy Sparing – who shared the title with Bray Armes and K.C. Jones – have not finished any season among the top 15 in the world standings.

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

Of the remaining reigning champions, only all-around winner Landon McClaugherty failed to qualify for either the NFR or the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping last season. All the rest of the cowboys were part of the elite field in Las Vegas this past December:

  • Bareback rider Richmond Champion parlayed his $5,191 in Dodge City with his first qualification. He finished third in the final world standings.
  • Steer wrestlers Armes, a three-time NFR qualifier and the 2013 average champion, and Jones, an eight-time NFR qualifier, found themselves solidly in the top 10 by the time they got to Las Vegas.
  • Team ropers Kaleb Driggers, a four-time qualifier, and Patrick Smith, an 11-time finalist and two-time world champion heeler, placed in five NFR go-rounds and finished among the top 10 in the final world standings. They won more than $6,600 in Ford County last August.
  • Tie-down roper Cody Ohl, a six-time world champ with 20 NFR appearances, earned $4,451 in Dodge City and finished the year ranked fourth in the world standings with nearly $150,000.
  • Bull rider J.W. Harris, a four-time champion nine-time NFR qualifier, was the only cowboy to ride two bulls. He won $5,462 and finished 2014 with nearly $110,000.

“Every year, we get the top cowboys and cowgirls in the game,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the Roundup committee. “We are always excited to have world champions win a Roundup buckle. We do everything we can to make sure they keep coming back to Dodge City.”

postheadericon Work on local fair is a labor of love

LOVINGTON, N.M. – It takes a small army to handle even the tiniest of details that come with producing a large event.

“We’re blessed that we have a strong core group of volunteers who donate their time and energy to our fair and rodeo and also have the county staff that makes a lot happen,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the board that organizes the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington.

Lea County Fair LogoFrom set-up to take-down to everything in between, it takes a crew of dedicated people to make sure every aspect of the exposition is covered.

“We have a countless number of people who help us every year,” Helton said. “This fair wouldn’t be able to function without the volunteers. That’s how important they are to the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.”

Most of the work is done behind the scenes, and the average fairgoer will never comprehend the amount of labor that goes into each activity. That’s done for a reason, and it’s been that way for all 80 years of the local fair.

“For the livestock shows, each animal species has its own superintendent,” Helton said. “Each one is in charge of that species of animal at the fair, so it’s very important.

“I can’t even estimate how many man-hours are involved, especially when you add in the year leading up to the fair. We often forget about all the hours of volunteer work before the fair even gets here, much less during fair week.”

In Lovington, though, it goes well beyond those who donate all that time and their own talents. There are Lea County staff members that also handle a good portion of the heavy lifting. The fair is underwritten by the Lea County Commission, so staff members take care of numerous aspects of getting everything ready.

“The reality for our fair and rodeo is that we have some great people who do outstanding work to make it all happen,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We couldn’t do any of our work without Jim Kemp.”

Kemp works in the facilities department for the county. He oversees much of the work at Jake McClure Arena, among other aspects of his job. He also takes care of the arena dirt to make sure the ground conditions are in the best shape possible for the competition.

“Jim takes a lot of pride in our rodeo, and he has reason to,” Massey said. “He works tirelessly to make it as close to perfect as he can.”

That kind of community effort makes for an incredible experience for anyone attending the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.