postheadericon Stephenville rodeo worthy of honor

STEPHENVILLE, Texas – Over the last few years, many changes have been made concerning the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo.

The rodeo community has noticed. For the second straight year, it has been nominated for Medium Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Not only is it one of the top five events its size, PRCA members have recognized it as one of the 20 best out of more than 600 rodeos.

Of course, Stephenville’s rodeo should earn that distinction.

Chad Decker

Chad Decker

“We take pride in our town being the Cowboy Capital of the World,” said Chad Decker, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the event. “If you wear that crown, you have to produce. I have a very good group of people on the committee that are more than willing to go the extra mile to be as successful as we can be.

“We have the largest population of rodeo cowboys per square foot in the world.”

This year’s event is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Lone Star Arena. That makes for plenty of fireworks on the final weekend of the 2016 ProRodeo regular season.

“They’ve been on the road battling it out, and for them to come home from being on the road all year, they get to close out their year right in their own backyard,” Decker said. “I think it’s something they enjoy, especially now that we’ve got our money up. I look at it as a homecoming for these guys.”

As one of the final events of the season, the Stephenville rodeo will be a major stop for many top cowboys and cowgirls, even those that don’t live in Erath County. It will feature the largest purse of any rodeo that weekend that is open to all contestants. That’s just one of many major attractions for the top players in the game.

“We have the best stock contractor in rodeo with Pete Carr,” Decker said of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based livestock producer that has received five straight nominations for Stock Contractor of the Year. “He has tremendous livestock, and it’s something all these guys want to compete on. That’s important.”

It’s also a crowd-pleaser for fans. They realize that a number of contestants will need to collect nice paydays in Stephenville if they want to advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the season-ending championship that features only the top 15 contestants in each event.

“That’s what makes my Sunday afternoon crowd so big,” Decker said. “With Stephenville being a rodeo town, we cater to most of our spectators, who are rodeo people. They understand what’s on the line. It makes it more interesting for the crowd, because they know what’s at stake for the guys.”

postheadericon Inman earns Sioux Falls crown

Toby Inman fakes War Fighting Bulls' Ghost Face during the weekend's Bullfighters Only event in Sioux Falls, S.D. Inman posted an 89-point fight with War Fighting Bulls' Ghost Face. He also won the two-fight aggregate to claim the Sioux Falls title. (PHILLIP KITTS PHOTO)

Toby Inman fakes War Fighting Bulls’ Ghost Face during the weekend’s Bullfighters Only event in Sioux Falls, S.D. Inman posted an 89-point fight with War Fighting Bulls’ Ghost Face. He also won the two-fight aggregate to claim the Sioux Falls title. (PHILLIP KITTS PHOTO)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Toby Inman couldn’t remember exactly the last time he won a freestyle bullfight.

He won’t have that problem anymore after his Bullfighters Only performance on Friday and Saturday during the Sioux Falls Premier Rodeo. He posted the highest score of the weekend on opening night with an 89-point fight while dancing with War Fighting Bulls’ Ghost Face. He followed that with a solid 84 on Saturday to earn the event title with a cumulative score of 173 points on two fights.

Toby Inman

Toby Inman

“Friday night was a big deal to me, because I had a good bull, I cracked out and enjoyed it,” said Inman of Davis Junction, Ill. “My Saturday night wasn’t so great, but Friday night was something I needed.

“That was one that you could enjoy. I had a good bull that was on me the whole time, and I had a good time. It was fantastic.”

It was. The 89 is one of the highest scores of the inaugural Bullfighters Only season. Inman started by jumping Ghost Face, then threw in a couple of strong fakes that sent the bull sliding past. He made a few rounds, turning his back to the animal and showing great control. He finished the fight with a fake that dropped both him and the bull to their knees.

It was a true showcase of Inman’s abilities, even though it’s just the third bullfight he’s competed over the last five years.

“I would say the first two bullfights, I was still trying to figure everything out,” he said. “Being in a good arena with a big crowd was definitely great. When you call for the bull, all that noise goes away and it doesn’t matter. It’s just you and the bull.

“Once I hit that jump, the rest of it was perfect.”

Dakota Knight

Dakota Knight

It was a weekend filled with exceptional talent, with Inman and Ross Hill of Muscle Shoals, Ala., serving as the veterans and 20-year-old Dakota Knight of Lebo, Kan., bringing a fresh face to the game. While Inman won the average title, Hill and Knight split the final-night victory with 86.5 points each.

“It was a big deal to me,” Knight said. “I watched these guys compete all year, and I kept telling myself how much I’d like to be up there in the big leagues. I was tickled to death to be in the arena with Ross Hill and Toby Inman. It was overwhelming to be under the big lights with those guys.”

Knight is a second-generation bullfighter who got his start at a very young age. He followed his dad around the rodeo trail and had several opportunities to refine his game at a young age.

“I had always wanted to do it, and I had done a little when I was a little kid,” he said. “They had a little calf, and I’d freestyle him during the performance. It’s something that I had an opportunity to do ever since I stepped into that arena, and I haven’t left.”

His talent showed in Sioux Falls.

“The atmosphere was awesome, and the crowd was really loud,” Knight said. “I’ve never been in front of anything like that before; it was really exciting. They were really excited and were really cheering, and I just kept driving because they kept wanting me to do more.”

It served as the perfect setting for a brilliant night of Bullfighters Only.

RESULTS
Night 1
1. Toby Inman, 89 points
2. Ross Hill, 82.5
3. DaKota Knight, 80.5
Night 2
1. Ross Hill and Dakota Knight, 86.5 points
3. Toby Inman, 84
Average
1. Toby Inman, 173 points on two fights
2. Ross Hill, 169
3. Dakota Knight, 167

postheadericon Weir, Padilla shooting for KPRA title

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Mike Weir has a lot of confidence heading into next weekend’s Kansas Professional Rodeo Association Finals.

He should. After all, he and his partner, Brian Padilla, grew up together and have been roping together most of their lives. Between the open team roping and the 40-40 team roping, they have earned nine year-end titles together and would like to another average title from the KPRA finale, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23-Saturday, Sept. 24, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Roundup Arena.

KPRA-logo“We’re right on the heels of the guys that are winning the standings right now,” said Weir, who, like his partner, is from Dodge City. “That’s where I’d rather be, sitting second going into the finals.”

Padilla and Weir have earned $7,563 in the KPRA this season and are within reach of the 40-40 team roping standings leaders, Justin and Brian Crist. Padilla is $123 behind Justin Crist, while Brian Crist has a $511 lead over Weir.

Now they’re in a race for another title.

“It proves to me that I can still compete against everybody,” Padilla said. “I’ve been doing it for years. I’ve gone to the PRCA rodeos, and when you go to those, it costs you a lot more money. This is just another way that I can be on top of the world in the heading side.”

The duo graduated from Dodge City High School in 1989, but they’ve been around rodeo a lot longer than that. Now they’re both passing that passion for the sport on to the next generation. Weir has twin boys that are already doing well, and Padilla is just getting his youngsters started in the game.

“Rodeo is very hard,” Weir said. “You drive all night, get home and get up to go to work, then you get off work and do it again. There were times this summer where we went to four rodeos in a week, so you were always going.

“I love it, though. I like the people in the sport more than anything. I love to get to visit with the people, and I love to compete. I’ve done it ever since I was a kid.”

That competitive nature has shown brightly over the years. Padilla and Weir have earned the open team roping title eight times and have added the 40-40 – an event made up of teams whose combined ages are at least 80 years old.

With years of experience together, they like their chances when it comes time to enter the arena.

“Mike and I just know each other, and we know exactly what needs to be done,” Padilla said. “We know each other like the back of our hand. That’s what makes us so competitive.”

Weir echoed those sentiments – even down to the same cliché – in identifying what makes them so successful.

“There’s just a lot of chemistry, but we’ve been roping together since we were kids,” Weir said. “It’s good that we can compete at the finals in Dodge City. Anytime you can compete at a hometown rodeo, it’s great. You feel like you’ve got one up on the competition. It’s definitely a home-field advantage.”

postheadericon Returning to bullfighting roots

Hill beats adversity to battle for in front of Sutton, who developed freestyle bullfighting

 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – In all his years as a bullfighter, Ross Hill has had his share of adversity.

He’s at it again, and he’s trying to show adversity who is boss.

He took a direct shot to the back right after calling for his bull during the Bullfighters Only event in Lewiston, Idaho, last weekend and suffered a dislocated knee.

“I got up and finished the fight,” said Hill, 33, of Muscle Shoals, Ala. “I just did it one-legged.”

Ross Hill

Ross Hill

He will take that grit and determination to the Bullfighters Only tour stop in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Premier Rodeo, set for Friday and Saturday at the Denny Sanford Center. Hill might need every ounce of it to come away with the title at one of the last events on the BFO’s inaugural season.

The incident happened when Hill attempted a selfie fake, where he starts the fight with his back to the bull coming out of the chute and watches the bull charging at him with the phone camera as his guide. The bull connected with a mighty blow instead.

Just a few days later, Hill returned to the arena during the BFO event in Pendleton, Ore., and performed well.

“I had two taped knees and was really sore,” he said. “I handled my bull. He didn’t read one of my fakes, and he hooked me and got me down. I got up and finished him, and we sold a bunch of tickets.”

That’s a sentiment that showcased just how exciting the fight was for the fans. He hopes to treat the fans in Sioux Falls, albeit in a different manner.

“There’s a lot of adversity in our sport,” Hill said. “I believe in the top 15 guys that we’ve got. It’s been a dream of mine all my life. I’ve never really gotten a shot to run at a real season on tour.”

He does now, thanks to Bullfighters Only. In fact, he sits fourth in the standings. He was originally scheduled to compete at another event this weekend, but he opted to make his way to Sioux Falls instead.

“When we represent the Bullfighters Only, we represent not just ourselves but the best of the best,” Hill said. “As a brand-builder, as a shareholder and as a true supporter of Bullfighters Only, I felt like it was best for my future.

“It’s setting up every bullfighter that wants to be a great for in the future as well. For me not being there, I’m just not doing the Bullfighters Only justice.”

Scores are based on a 100-point scale. Men can earn up to 50 points per fight by exhibiting control and style while working their way around the animal; bulls can earn up to 50 points based on their aggression, quickness and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

It’s nothing new to rodeo. In fact, Jim Sutton of Sutton Pro Rodeo – which produces the Sioux Falls rodeo – developed the sport 37 years ago.

“We were in the third year of the (Rapid City, S.D.) Stock Show and Rodeo that year, and we were struggling,” Sutton said of his decision to showcase freestyle bullfighting. “We started that bullfight, and it was an instant success. In two years, we doubled our crowd. Every year we had it, it just got bigger.”

The BFO has created a public demand for the sport, and Sutton recognized that. It’s one of the reasons why he sees the need to have it return to Sioux Falls.

“I was just trying to figure out a way to build the Rapid City Stock Show Rodeo,” Sutton said. “That did more for me than anything I’ve done. The bullfight has dang sure helped along the way.”

Nobody understands that more than Hill, who makes his living facing the danger and excitement – and possible joint dislocation – that comes with chasing his bullfighting dreams.

“I’m excited about this tour,” Hill said. “We have undoubtedly the best guys on tour, and some of those are my best friends and peers, guys that I have mentored and that have mentored me.

“Jim Sutton invented freestyle bullfighting. He’s the guy that came up with the sport. It’s going to be an honor to step in and to see how his sport has progressed since he started it.”

CONTESTANTS
Ross Hill
Toby Inman
Dakota Knight

postheadericon Bridgeport rodeo voted as one of the best

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – The hard work put in to the Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo seems to be paying off.

For the second straight year, Bridgeport’s rodeo has been nominated for Small Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. It’s one of just five rodeos its size – and one of 20 PRCA rodeos overall – that will be up for the top award given to committees that produce events nationwide. The winner will be announced during the PRCA Awards Banquet on Nov. 30 in Las Vegas.

David Turnbow

David Turnbow

“There are more than 600 PRCA rodeos, and for us to be recognized as one of the best is a big feather in our cap,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the volunteer committee that organizes the Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo. “There are a lot of great rodeos out there, and it just means the world to me and to this committee that we’ve been recognized again.”

The recognition is well deserved. The committee is made up of a few community volunteers who spend their time and talent to provide residents of Bridgeport and the surrounding area with good, family-friendly entertainment.

Andy Stewart

Andy Stewart

“I think a lot has to do with the atmosphere,” said Andy Stewart, who announced the rodeo for the first time this past May. “It’s the quintessential Texas rodeo. The committee treats the contestants really well, and everybody’s willing to help out. It’s a neat little town and a neat little rodeo.”

The awards are broken down into large indoor rodeo, large outdoor rodeo, medium rodeo and small rodeo, and each category features five nominees each. That means members consider the Bridgeport rodeo as one of the top 20 rodeos in North America.

“It is such an honor for this rodeo to be in with rodeos like Cheyenne (Wyo.), Fort Worth, Deadwood (S.D.), Dodge City (Kan.) and Pendleton (Ore.),” said Loydd Williams, a longtime member of the committee. “That says a lot about the people here in little ol’ Bridgeport, Texas, that we have such a rodeo.”

Bridgeport’s rodeo also is home to some of the top personnel in the PRCA, including Stewart, who is up for announcer of the year for the eighth time; Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, stock contractor of the year; Sandy Gwatney, secretary of the year; Jeremy Willis, pickup man of the year; and Clay Heger, bullfighter of the year.

“When you look at the list of individuals that are part of the crew or that are part of this rodeo every year, they are all in the top five in the industry,” Stewart said. “For me to work with the individuals that are the best in rodeo is a huge blessing, and I think it shows in the type of rodeo Bridgeport has.

“The show is the thing, and the crowd is the thing, and everyone does their job. One of the reasons why Bridgeport is successful is the right people are in the right place.”

postheadericon Allard overcomes injury to win

Evan Allard completes a solid fake with 12x and Costa Fighting Bulls' Little Foot in an 86-point bout during the Bullfighters Only event in Pendleton, Ore. (KIRT STIENKE PHOTO)

Evan Allard completes a solid fake with 12x and Costa Fighting Bulls’ Little Foot in an 86-point bout during the Bullfighters Only event in Pendleton, Ore. (KIRT STIENKE PHOTO)

PENDLETON, Ore. – When his good friend Cody Greer was hooked to the ground, Evan Allard jumped in to help.

That’s what bullfighters do when one of their own is in trouble, but it took a toll on Allard, who had yet to compete during the Bullfighters Only tour stop in conjunction with the Pendleton Roundup, which took place Monday and Tuesday in Happy Canyon.

Evan Allard

Evan Allard

“I messed up my rib when Cody got hooked,” said Allard of Vinita, Okla. “It roughed up my ribs, so I was hurting when it came time for me to fight my bull.”

It worked out pretty well for the Oklahoma man, who posted an 86-point fight Tuesday night to win the Pendleton title. He edged out Dusty Tuckness of Meeteetse, Wyo., and Weston Rutkowski of Haskell, Texas, both of whom posted 85.5-point bouts on Monday – Tuckness earned second place by the tie-breaker, which referred back to the highest bullfighter score.

Dusty Tuckness

Dusty Tuckness

“I’d seen Cody Webster win the round in Caldwell (Idaho) on that bull,” said Allard, who matched each step with 12x and Costa Fighting Bulls’ Little Foot in Pendleton. “I knew all three of those bulls out (Tuesday) were Spaniard brothers, and I knew they’d be pretty hot. Good or bad, I knew they’d for sure come for the fight.”

That was the case with Little Foot. Allard threw a couple of strong fakes, and the bull drove past. Then the bullfighter made a round with Little Foot before the animal made his way to the barrel, plowing it end over end.

“I knew I was probably going to use the barrel more because I was hurt,” he said. “When he left me and went to the barrel, that just set me up for it.”

Weston Rutkowski

Weston Rutkowski

He worked the barrel well, then pulled Little Foot away for a couple more fakes, then returned to the barrel. He worked it masterfully to close out the fight and claim the crown.

“It was pretty important to get that win,” said Allard, who has been among the top 10 in the Bullfighters Only standings much of the season. “I needed a win. I’ve had a pretty rough last month or so. I’ve been hooked a bunch, in the arena and in the back pens. I took a nasty hooking at Caldwell and another one in Arlington, Minn., so I needed this.

“It’s been a few months since I won a BFO.”

Of course, winning an event that is tied to such a historic rodeo as the Pendleton Roundup is another feather in the bullfighter’s cap.

“It was an awesome atmosphere and an awesome setup,” he said of the Happy Canyon arena. “The town of Pendleton means a lot to the rodeo industry. For us to get to bring the bullfights there, and for me to win it, was pretty awesome.”

RESULTS
1. Evan Allard, 86 point
2. Dusty Tuckness, 85.5
3. Weston Rutkowski, 85.5
(Tuckness earns second place based on the tie-breaker, which reflected on the bullfighter’s score)

postheadericon Slagle sees all as KPRA announcer

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Jared Slagle might have the best seat in the house when it comes to the rodeo arena.

Slagle is a rodeo announcer from tiny Callaway, Neb., and he will be the featured voice of the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association Finals, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23-Saturday, Sept. 24, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Roundup Arena.

“I think the thing that sticks out in my mind about that event is the actual talent that will be there for the finals,” said Slagle, who, along with other contract personnel, was selected to work the championship. “If you look at the list, we’ve not only got the best of the KPRA that will be in Dodge City, but we have the best in rodeo.

Jared Slagle

Jared Slagle

“We’re talking about guys that have been featured at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.”

Those guys include tie-down ropers Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla., and Garrett Nokes of McCook, Neb., and steer wrestler Dru Melvin of Hebron, Neb. Nokes qualified for the NFR in steer wrestling in 2005, while Melvin earned trips to the NFR in 2006 and ’14. Schneeberger has 11 qualifications on his resume, including the 2001 NFR average title.

“They are just the ones with NFR experience, but the talent doesn’t drop off at the KPRA finals,” Slagle said. “I can say in all truthfulness that the type of talent fans see at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo will be what they see all three nights of this finals. People who don’t follow the KPRA don’t realize just how talented these cowboys and cowgirls are.”

In fact, Schneeberger won the Roundup title just a few years ago.

“There are also added events that you normally wouldn’t see. Breakaway roping is a crowd favorite. Ladies have to rope a calf in under 3 seconds, and there are some really talented ladies that will be competing in Dodge City.”

While there are the traditional events that fans see regularly, the KPRA Finals also will feature 40-40 team roping (which consists of two ropers whose ages add up to at least 80) and ranch bronc riding – contestants use a livestock saddle instead of a specialized bronc saddle.

“One thing I saw last year was how people responded to the ranch bronc riding,” Slagle said. “It’s something new, and it’s something many people haven’t seen. That’s how rodeo started on the ranches centuries ago, and now we’ve come full circle.

“The wilder the better.”

He knows of what he speaks. Before he got into the announcing game, Slagle was a saddle bronc rider. He competed in high school, college and worked some smaller rodeos while also testing the waters of the professional ranks. It’s all a transition for the ranch-raised cowboy.

“I got out of rodeo and got in the business world,” he said. “At a certain point, I got tired of the suit and tie. I wanted to find a career that would allow me to get back to my roots. I had the opportunity to travel with a professional rodeo announcer for a while, and now I’m doing this. I really enjoy it.”

He is one of 11 people selected to work the rodeo and will be joined by sound technician Garrison Panzer; timers Jennifer Greenleaf and Missie Gerritzen; pickup men Mike Greenleaf and Scott Swayze; bullfighters Dustin Glaze and Cody Calkins; and judges Kenny Allison, Joe Johnson and Bronc Rumford.

“It’s an honor for me to be selected to announce this rodeo,” Slagle said.

It also is an honor for the contestants, who earned the right to compete in Dodge City by finishing among the top 12 in their respective events.

“For many of the contestants that don’t rodeo every single day of the week, this is their NFR,” he said. “They work during the week and rodeo on the weekends. They’ve worked hard all summer long to get somewhere.

“The nice thing about Dodge City is there’s a lot going on. That committee has created such a great event for these contestants that might not get to see the bright lights of Las Vegas. To them, the bright lights of Dodge City is exciting.”

That they are, but so is this championship. It takes hard work, dedication and raw talent to excel in any sport, much less one as diversified as rodeo. The qualifiers have earned the right to play for the biggest prizes in the KPRA.

“This is their championship, and the Dodge City Roundup committee knows what it’s doing on how to run a pro show and how to treat contestants,” Slagle said. “The contestants really feel like they’ve made it. The experience they are about to receive is something they don’t see all year long.”

That’s just what championships are all about.

postheadericon Fair has great entertainment for $10

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – There aren’t many entertainment venues where the admission is just $10.

The Waller County Fair and Rodeo is one, and there’s a lot that can be jammed into that $10 ticket. From the rodeo to the carnival to the traditional county fair activities, there are numerous opportunities for fair-goers to enjoy.

WallerLogoThat doesn’t include the daily entertainment activities nor the concerts, which take place Sept. 24, 29, 30 and Oct. 1. That just adds to the value in every $10 admission.

“The reality is we put this together for our community and for anyone and everyone in southeastern Texas that wants to enjoy a great fair and rodeo,” said Sherry Roesner, the fair board’s secretary. “We work hard to keep the ticket prices down so families can enjoy not only a day at the fair, but as many days as they can.

“This event is for them. Not only do we want to make it affordable, but we want to give them as much entertainment as possible.”

That’s important to the fair board, whose members volunteer their time and energy to plan, promote and produce the event every year.

“We have continued to put money toward the overall entertainment of our fair,” said Steven Pfeiffer, the entertainment chairman. “Our goal is to make the overall family experience outstanding and that families literally get the most bang for their bucks.”

That includes the concerts that are geared toward the fair-goers. This year’s lineup is:

  • 24: Jarrod Birmingham, followed by the Josh Abbott Band.
  • 29: Jake Hooker and the Outsiders
  • 30: Chris Salinas, followed by Jason Cassidy
  • 1: Bleu Edmondson, followed by Whiskey Myers

“I think we have an exciting lineup of concerts this year,” said Dustin Standley, vice president of the fair board. “These acts are going to be just what people want. This is going to be fast-paced music that we all love and enjoy, and it’s going to have a distinct Texas flavor.”

To make everything more comfortable to fair-goers, there is additional parking at the rear of the fairgrounds, which will be marked by signage.

“We are really working hard to make this experience as great as possible for everyone,” Standley said.

postheadericon Texarkana making big moves

Four States Fair and Rodeo to increase local purse, add Xtreme Bull Riding

 

TEXARKANA, Ark. – The organizers of the Four States Fair and Rodeo want to make a big statement starting with their 2016 event.

They will with a couple of vital changes to the exposition’s rodeo, from adding an Xtreme Bull Riding competition to increasing the overall purse for contestants.

“Our fair and rodeo is an important link to the community’s agricultural heritage, and we want to be able to provide great entertainment at a great price,” said Daryl Livingston, the fair’s chairman of the board “The principal reason we’re making these changes is to create a world-class rodeo for our community and for cowboys who compete here.”

Four-States-Fair-LOGOWhile rodeo events will still take up four days of the exposition – from Wednesday, Sept. 14-Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Four States Fair Entertainment Center in Texarkana – that segment of the celebration will kick start with Xtreme Bulls, a stand-alone bull riding event that will feature most of the top bull riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“This is the appropriate market for a bull riding event,” Livingston said. “We host over a dozen major rodeo, livestock and equine events here each year.

“We have the audience for that market, and I think the Xtreme Bulls will be a big hit.”

He pointed to nationally televised events that feature bull-riding only competitions as a key factor in the sport’s growing popularity.

“We’re excited about what it will do for our existing market as well as new audiences,” he said.

Vice president Lisa Barr and many volunteers have worked hard to increase the sponsorship portion of the purse for the PRCA rodeo to more than double what it was in 2015. That is a big step for the four states area, which includes Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

“This is the 72nd year of a continuous event,” Livingston said. “It’s a gathering place for the whole community to come together. It reflects an important part of our local history. That’s one great thing about it.”

The organizers also want it to be an important part of each season for the cowboys and cowgirls who make their livings in ProRodeo.

“We want to entice world-class contestants to come to our rodeo,” Barr said. “We want to let the cowboys know that this is they place they want to be, that this is an exciting event and that this is a title they want to win.”

A year ago, the rodeo featured a local purse of $19,000; this year, that has been pushed to $45,000. Throw in a collaborative effort from the team at Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, and it’s a positive mix for all involved.

“We’ve got a world-class production team, and now we want to make our rodeo as competitive as any other in the country,” Livingston said. “That’s what our local fans deserve for their investment in this fair and rodeo.

“Pete Carr brings a top-flight promotional and production team to town, and the professionalism they bring with them shows that this is truly a National Finals Rodeo production. He brings that to our venue year after year. He’s helped us bring innovation to our shows and our performances. He’s been a mentor to help develop the event for our community.”

That community has a powerful history. Separated by State Line Avenue, Texarkana is a Texas and Arkansas twin city that’s Twice as Nice and is the center of the four-states region.

“In the next five years, the board of directors in our organization has a goal to be the Rodeo of the Year in our class,” Barr said. “We’ve already been a four-day rodeo for quite a while. Now we’re taking the first day and turning it into an Xtreme Bulls event and shortening our rodeo to three days. It makes us more contemporary for rodeos our size.

“We want contestants to look at the calendar and know this is where they want to be. We’re a hospitality- and contestant-driven event. We want to provide a great experience for the contestants and the staff. We want to give them downhome, family treatment that they take with them when they leave. It’s in our DNA to welcome people and help them have a good time.”

postheadericon Texarkana rodeo vital for top contestants

TEXARKANA, Ark. – The Four States Fair and Rodeo is a vital stop in ProRodeo each season.

Part of it is the timing of the event; by being in mid-September, the dates fall on one of the final weeks of the regular season. That means dollars earned in Texarkana could pave the way for contestants vying for qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale that takes place each December in Las Vegas.

Four-States-Fair-LOGOThat’s why hundreds of contestants are preparing to compete this week during the rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday at the Four States Fair Entertainment Center.

But there’s more incentive in 2016. Wednesday’s performance will feature the inaugural run of the Xtreme Bulls Tour in Texarkana. It will be a battle of the best bull riders in the sport vs. some outstanding animal athletic power. It’s a stand-alone event, and the final three nights of the rodeo will feature all of the traditional disciplines.

Local organizers have also increased the total purse, another amazing incentive for the contestants that make their living on the rodeo trail. Throw in the animals and production from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, and there are many reasons the top players in the game make their way to this twin city.

“I think Pete Carr has a fabulous rodeo company, and everybody on his staff puts on a wonderful rodeo,” said Lisa Barr, vice president of the fair and rodeo. “It’s professional, and the crew just works great with us.

“When they get to town, they take the pressure off us. You don’t have to worry about things or if everything’s in place. They take care of it all and produce an outstanding rodeo.”

That’s just one aspect of the Carr brand. The crew of professionals put a priority on top production for fans while having the type of animal athletes that are attractive to rodeo cowboys. That helps make the Four States Fair and Rodeo a vital stop for the top contestants in the game.

Over the last few years, Carr has received five nominations for stock contractor of the year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Since 2013, no other livestock producer has had more animals selected to the NFR than Carr.

With animals selected based on votes of the cowboys that ride them, it’s a strong indicator of the talent the Carr herd possesses. Another would be the list of NFR qualifiers and world champions who have put their hat in the ring to compete in Texarkana. More than 50 NFR qualifiers – including several world titlists – will be part of the mix over a solid four days of competition.

“Pete brings outstanding rodeo livestock to our rodeo year after year,” Barr said. “A lot of people don’t understand that the animals are as much of our rodeo as the cowboys and cowgirls.”

Those people will see it first hand in just a few days.