postheadericon Frontier to produce Guymon rodeo

GUYMON, Okla. – There is a changing of the guard at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo for the 2019 championship.

The volunteer committee has signed a contract with Freedom, Okla.-based Frontier Rodeo Co. to be the primary stock contractor and producer of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame event beginning with next year’s rodeo, set for May 3-5 at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon.

Spencer Wright rides Frontier Rodeo's Medicine Woman at a recent event. The powerful mare is a four-time Horse of the Year and is expected to be one of the great animals from Frontier at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo. (PHOTO COURTESY OF FRONTIER RODEO)

Spencer Wright rides Frontier Rodeo’s Medicine Woman at a recent event. The powerful mare is a four-time Horse of the Year and is expected to be one of the great animals from Frontier at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo. (PHOTO COURTESY OF FRONTIER RODEO)

“Change for the better is good, and in this case, you’re changing from one great stock contractor to another one,” Ken Stonecipher said, referring to the switch from longtime contractor Pete Carr Pro Rodeo to Frontier. “We wanted to continue to keep things fresh, but we expect it to be the same great show that our fans have come to expect.”

The quality is there. Frontier has been named Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Stock Contractor of the Year each of the past three seasons. Over eight years, Frontier animals have been named Horses of the Year: Medicine Woman won Saddle Bronc of the Year four times (2011, ’14-’16), Maple Leaf with the same title in 2013 and Full Baggage was Bareback Horse of the Year in 2011 and 13. Frontier has had dozens of animals selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo over the years.

Medicine Woman also was the Saddle Bronc of the NFR in 2010, while Full Baggage won the same in bareback riding in 2010, ’12 and ’15. Another top bronc, Delta Ship, was Bareback Horse of the NFR in 2009 and ’11.

“It’s an honor for us to get the Guymon contract,” said Heath Stewart, the rodeo manager who operates the outfit for owner Jerry Nelson of Winnie, Texas. “It’s the biggest rodeo in Oklahoma, and it’s right there in the Bronc Riding Capital of the World.”

Frontier Rodeo is also a two-time winner of the Remuda Award, given to the stock contractor that has the best, most consistent pen of horses.

“The criterion was based on not just the dollars but, more importantly, the value the stock contractors could provide,” Stonecipher said. “We asked each to give us their plan on how they’d put the rodeo on. Over the last 15 years, the rodeo has set a high standard for production, for not only how the rodeo runs for the fans but also the quality of livestock for the fans. Carr Pro Rodeo has done a fantastic job the last several years, but we think Frontier’s game plan and its proximity to Guymon gave us the best value.”

Stewart fully understands what is expected of him when he arrives in Texas County next spring.

“It takes a great set of crew and livestock to put that rodeo on,” he said. “It’s not an easy rodeo by any means, but in my eyes, it’s one of the best rodeos in Oklahoma. I’m going to bring great personnel, and I’m going to bring all of our good horses, the NFR horses and horses of the year, and great bulls.

“We want everybody that’s entered to have a chance to win a check. That’s hard to do, but that’s always our goal.”

And that’s what makes Frontier Rodeo and Pioneer Days Rodeo a good match.

postheadericon Apple collects valuable win

Schell Apple makes a round with his Rockin' B & Magnifica bull during Tuesdsay's Bullfighters Only Wrangler Bullfight Tour stop held in conjunction with Dodge City Xtreme Bulls.

Schell Apple makes a round with his Rockin’ B & Magnifica bull during Tuesdsay’s Bullfighters Only Wrangler Bullfight Tour stop held in conjunction with Dodge City Xtreme Bulls.

Oklahoma man uses wit and athleticism to win BFO-Dodge City title

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Schell Apple knew he had to be the aggressor during Tuesday night’s Bullfighters Only Wrangler Bullfights at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.

He matched moves with a young bull from Rockin’ B & Magnifica for 81 points, winning the prestigious Dodge City event title and the lion’s share of the prize money. He will move up a few places to 11th in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings, with several events left on the season.

“This means a lot and it’s really cool,” said Apple of Fay, Okla. “I’ve been putting in the work, and trying real hard. I’m trying to tap into the talent that God’s given me. This victory is not for me; it’s for Him.”

Apple outscored two of the BFO’s best – both sitting well within the top 10:  No. 6 man Beau Schueth and the third-ranked and two-time defending world champion, Weston Rutkowski. Both Schueth and Rutkowski finished with 77 points.

The three bullfighters were matched with a less experienced set of bulls Tuesday, which required each athlete to formulate a different game plan through their 60-second bouts.

“Brett Hall with Rockin’ B & Magnifica is our 2017 Stock Contractor of the Year,” Apple said. “He approached me before the event and said the bulls are fresh. That means one of two things: They could be real flighty, or they could be real hot. You have to prepare yourself mentally for both those things.”

In the dangerous game of freestyle bullfighting, the men who find the most success utilize their understanding of the animals just as much as the athleticism. That’s one of the reasons Apple found Victory Lane.

“I knew I’d have to push him,” he said. “I slowed things down from the beginning to keep that bull engaged as much as I could.”

That paid off.

“It’s a fighter’s mentality, so it’s either him or me,” Apple said. “You’ve got to channel that every time. There are times when you’re the one who comes out on top but there’s a little bit of fear every time you do it; if you’re not scared, there’s something wrong.

“You’ve got to channel those nerves and use them to your advantage.”

RESULTS
1. Schell Apple, 81 points; 2. (tie) Weston Rutkowski and Beau Schueth, 77.

postheadericon Waguespack chasing Roundup title

Tyler Waguespack transitions from Scooter, the 2017 Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year, onto his steer during Wednesday's performance of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He leads the rodeo with a two-run cumulative time of 8.7 seconds after the first performance.

Tyler Waguespack transitions from Scooter, the 2017 Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year, onto his steer during Wednesday’s performance of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He leads the rodeo with a two-run cumulative time of 8.7 seconds after the first performance.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – A month ago, Tyler Waguespack was the No. 5 steer wrestler in the world standings.

Things changed dramatically in those few weeks. In that time, he’s earned less than $5,000 in ProRodeo and came into this week 13th. He’s not exactly comfortable being that low in the standings, even though the top 15 on the money list at the conclusion of the regular season advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“Right now, I’m trying to get the momentum going,” said Waguespack, the 2016 world champion from Gonzales, La. “Hopefully some good runs here in Dodge City can get my momentum going back in the right direction.”

Two down and hopefully one more to go. Waguespack posted a 4.3-second run Wednesday morning during the first round at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, then followed that with a 4.4-second run that evening to take the overall lead.

Over the last five years, he’s found great success inside Roundup Arena. He’s placed in rounds and the three-run aggregate, finishing as high as second. In that time, he’s earned just shy of $10,000 in Roundup Arena.

“I’ve always done good here,” he said. “To be able to pull off a win here would be incredible. I’m going to have to wait and hopefully make it back Sunday and see what I can do then.”

Only the top 10 times on two runs in the timed events and the top 10 scores in the roughstock events will advance to Championship Sunday to compete for one of the biggest prizes in ProRodeo. Roundup is a nine-time winner of the PRCA Rodeo of the Year and has even more nominations over the years. It also was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2012.

He’ll have to wait out the final three preliminary performances to know for sure.

“We could come back first or come back right out of it and not get another one,” Waguespack said. “You never know how things are going to play out.”

For now, he knows his chances are good, and he got a lot of help from his mount, Scooter, a 13-year-old sorrel that was named the Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year in 2017. Waguespack doesn’t own the talented gelding, but he knows what it means to have a powerful helper underneath.

“I can’t thank Tyler Pearson and Kyle Irwin enough for letting me ride that great animal,” he said of the horse’s co-owners. “I’ve been on him most of the year. I have had a lot of success on him. I rode him last year at the NFR and did great on him there. Hopefully I’ll be back again and can ride him again.”

For now, though, Waguespack will focus on the business at hand, and that’s trying to win Dodge City Roundup for the first time in his career.

Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
Aug. 1-5
Bareback riding leaders:
1. (tie) Seth Harwick, on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Wrangler Valley, and Wyatt Denny, on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Hot Valley, 84 points; 3. (tie) Clayton Biglow and Steven Dent, 83; 5. Jesse Pope, 82; 6. Will Martin 78; 7. J.C. Hester, 76; 8. (tie) Orin Larsen and Mark Kreder, 69; no other qualified rides.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Cody Pratt, 3.8 seconds; 2. Tyler Waguespack, 4.3; 3. Kyle Irwin, 4.6; 4. Kyle Whitaker, 4.9; 5. Justin Shaffer, 5.3; 6. Blake Knowles, 5.7; 7. Jacob Talley, 5.9; 8. Ty Talsma, 6.0. Second round leaders: 1. Tyler Pearson, 3.7 seconds; 2. Aaron Vosler, 4.0; 3. Nick Guy, 4.2; 4. (tie) Blake Knowles and Tyler Waguespack, 4.4; 6. Kyle Whitaker, 5.5; 7. Brad Ralph, 5.6; 8.  Kyle Irwin, 5.7.  Average leaders: 1. Tyler Waguespack, 8.7 seconds on two runs; 2. Cody Pratt, 9.9; 3. Blake Knowles, 10.1; 4. Kyle Irwin, 10.3; 5. Kyle Whitaker, 10.4; 6. Nick Guy, 15.1; 7. Justin Shaffer, 19.2; 8. Austin Eller, 22.5; 9. Ty Talsma, 22.7; 10. Tyler Pearson, 25.6.
Team roping:
First round leaders: 1. Jr. Dees/Cody Cowden, 4.7 seconds; 2. Paul David Tierney/Danner Braden, 5.0; 3. Tyler Wade/Tyler McKnight, 5.4; 4. Dylan Gordan/Gage Williams, 7.2; 5. Billy Peters/Rio Esquibel, 8.0; 6. Lane Ivy/Blaine Vick, 10.7; 7. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 10.8; 8. Jarrett Freeman/Zane Murphy, 11.4. Second round leaders: 1. Tyler Wade/Tyler McKnight, 4.8; 2. JoJo LeMond/J.D. Yates, 5.4; 3. Jr. Dees/Cody Cowden, 5.5; 4. Paul David Tierney/Tanner Braden, 7.4; 5. Billy Peters/Rio Esquibel, 9.6; 6. Bubba Buckaloo/Tyler Worley, 10.4 seconds; 7. Lane Ivy/Blaine Vick, 14.8; Dylan Gordon/Gage Williams, 14.9. Average leaders: 1. (tie) Tyler Wade/Tyler McKnight and Jr. Dees/Cody Cowden, 10.2 seconds on two runs; 3. Paul David Tierney/Tanner Braden, 12.4; 4. Billy Peters/Rio Esquibel, 17.6; 5. JoJo LeMond/J.D. Yates, 21.1; 6. Dylan  Gordon/Gage Williams, 22.1; 7. Lane Ivy/Blaine Vick, 25.5; 8. Bubba Buckaloo/Tyler Worley, 10.4 seconds on one run; 9. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 10.8; 10. Jarrett Freeman/Zane Murphy, 11.4.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. (tie) Spencer Wright, on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Sun Pop, and Bradley Harter, on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Pillow Talk, 83.5 points; 3. (tie) Rusty Wright and Mitch Pollock, 82.5; 5. Dawson Hay, 81; 6. Wyatt Casper, 80.5; 7. Lefty Holman, 79.5; 8. Steven Dent, 78; Taygen Schuelke, 77.5; 10. Colt Gordon, 73.5.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Paul David Tierney, 8.8 seconds; 2. Weldon Watson, 9.1; 3. Blair Burk, 10.0; 4. Ty Harris, 10.9; 5. L.D. Meier, 11.1; 6. Cimarron Boardman, 12.0; 7. Russell Schilling, 13.2; 8. Casey Butaud, 13.5. Second round leaders: 1. Hudson Wallace, 8.8 seconds; 2. Weldon Watson, 11.0; 3. Kody Mahaffey, 11.9; 4. Casey Butaud, 12.9; 5. Cimarron Boardman, 18.2; 6. Luke Meier, 18.3; no other qualified runs. Average leaders: 1. Weldon Watson, 20.1 seconds on two runs; Casey Butaud, 26.4; 3. Hudson Wallace, 27.8; 4. Cimarron Boardman, 30.2; 5. Kody Mahaffey, 33.4; 6. Paul David Tierney, 8.8 seconds on one run; 7. Blair Burk, 10.0; 8. Ty Harris, 10.9.
Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Sarah Rose McDonald, 17.15 seconds; 2. Shali Lord, 17.16; 3. Cierra Chapman, 17.41; 4. Ali Armstrong, 17.43; 5. Diana Shoop, 17.59; 6. Sabrina Devers, 17.61; 7. Hollie Etbauer, 17.63; 8. Deb Cox, 17.74; 9. Micah Samples, 17.93; 10. Jacie Etbauer, 17.96. Second round leaders: 1. Shali Lord, 17.32 seconds; 2. Cierra Chapman, 17.39; 3. Deb Cox, 17.64; 4. Sabrina Devers, 17.75; 5. Ceri McAffery, 17.85; 6. Micah Samples, 17.93; 7. Jacie Etbauer, 36.18; 8. Mary Moore, 18.14; 9. Jacie Etbauer, 18.22; 10. J.J. Baldwin, 18.27. Average leaders: 1. Shali Lord, 34.48 seconds on two runs; 2. Cierra Chapman, 34.80; 3. Sabrina Devers, 35.36; 4. Deb Cox, 35.38; 5. Diana Shoop, 35.54; 6. Micah Samples, 35.86; 7. Jacie Etbauer, 36.18; 8. Mary Moore, 36.28; 9. Ceri McAffery, 36.71; 10. J.J. Baldwin, 36.84.
Bull riding leaders: 1. J.W. Harris, 88 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Kooty Crazy; 2. Aaron Williams, 86; 3. Ruger Piva, 84; 4. Fulton Rutland, 80.5; 5. Chase Dougherty, 78; 6. Trevor Kastner, 76.5; 7. Trevor Reiste, 75; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Success defines Eagle’s fair, rodeo

Bill Tutor rides Pete Carr's Bright Lights for 90.5 points to win the bareback riding title at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. (PHOTO BY TODD BREWER)

Bill Tutor rides Pete Carr’s Bright Lights for 90.5 points to win the bareback riding title at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. (PHOTO BY TODD BREWER)

EAGLE, Colo. – To claim the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo was a success might be an understatement in 2018.

When the fair concluded last weekend, there were tons of positives flowing out of the mountain community. The Junior Livestock Sale raised $360,000 for Eagle County youth, up $65,000 from 2017. That says something about how the community comes together for the four-day exposition.

“People are so excited about the 80th year next year so they can see what we’re going to do,” said Hanna Albertson, chairwoman of the fair and rodeo’s advisory council. “We’re talking about what we can do to make a bigger splash, make it more fun and do some different stuff for our contestants.

“We are continuing to improve the rodeo not only for the spectators, but also for the competitors and everyone else involved.”

That’s why the event was recognized as one of the top 20 rodeos in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events in 2017; it was one of five nominees for Medium Rodeo of the Year. And the way things went this past week offers up another chance for the Eagle rodeo to be recognized.

“We were only 400 people shy of selling out all four performances,” said John Gwatney, the livestock supervisor for the production team from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo. “That says it all. The last three performances were complete sellouts.”

It made for an incredible atmosphere inside Johnette Phillips Arena.

“The thing about that rodeo is just when you think it can’t get any better, it just does,” said Scott Grover, rodeo’s announcer who calls the action via horseback. “The buzz is around town. They had to turn away hundreds of people on Saturday night.

“With the top stock that Pete brings, you get the top cowboys. Everybody wants to be there, from the contestants to the fans.”

It was a who’s who of the top names in ProRodeo. Bill Tutor, the No. 3 bareback rider in the world standings, won the rodeo with a 90.5-point ride on Carr’s Bright Lights; it was the highest-marked ride of this year’s rodeo. Spencer Wright, the 2014 world champion, tied his nephew, reigning world champion Ryder Wright, to win the saddle bronc riding title.

“That committee changed some things to make it better for the cowboys,” Gwatney said. “the scores were high, and the times were great. You’ve got the greatest people in the world that love rodeo and have a captive audience. Scott Grover, (clown) Troy Lerwill and Pete Carr Pro Rodeo put on a show that was second to none.

“It was one of the best rodeos Eagle has seen in a long time.”

postheadericon Jacoby earns Xtreme Bulls crown

Dodge City-born Tyler Hessman rides Frontier Rodeo's Amigo for 85.5 points to place Tuesday night at Dodge City Xtreme Bulls.

Dodge City-born Tyler Hessman rides Frontier Rodeo’s Amigo for 85.5 points to place Tuesday night at Dodge City Xtreme Bulls.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Elliot Jacoby is a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier trying to make it to the City of Lights for the third time in his career.

Dodge City Xtreme Bulls champion Elliot Jacoby shows off his trophy spurs, handed to him by Dr. R.C. Trotter, the rodeo committee's president. (PHOTO BY DAVID SEYMORE)

Dodge City Xtreme Bulls champion Elliot Jacoby shows off his trophy spurs, handed to him by Dr. R.C. Trotter, the rodeo committee’s president. (PHOTO BY DAVID SEYMORE)

That’s a difficult task, given that only the top 15 in the world standings in each earn the right to compete in Las Vegas in December. But Jacoby gave himself a good shot at it Tuesday night during the Dodge City Xtreme Bulls event at Roundup Arena.

“I’ve been trying to not look at the standings too much,” said Jacoby, 28, of Fredericksburg, Texas. “I know I need to stay on, keep winning and keep moving on. This is a really good win.”

He matched moves with JK Rodeo’s Zorro for 90 points to win the title, edging 2011 world champion Shane Proctor by one point. For that, Jacoby pocketed $4,907 and moved up two spots to 15th in the world standings with $61,547.

“Confidence is probably one of the main ingredients in bull riding,” he said. “If you can stay one a good bull one day, it can carry over to the next day. It keeps you more positive and lets you go at those bulls with everything you have.

“It’s a lot easier whenever you’re winning.”

He knows a little bit about that. Jacoby qualified for the NFR in 2013-14, finishing as high as eighth in the world standings. He knows staying in the 15th spot at the end of the regular season would get him back to Sin City, but he’d prefer to move up several more places in the standings and secure his venture by the end of September.

He got his start Tuesday and returns to ride bulls Friday night during Roundup Rodeo. A good score then could help him qualify for Sunday’s championship round

“I don’t think I’ve ever stayed on a bull here until tonight,” he said. “It’s a great Xtreme Bulls. I’d like to do what I did here at the Xtreme Bulls during the rodeo.”

Schell Apple

Schell Apple

That would certainly keep Jacoby heading up the standings, and that’s what Schell Apple did in the Bullfighters Only event. Apple man earned the Dodge City title with an 81-point fight from a Rockin’ B & Magnifica bull to upend.

“This means a lot and is really cool,” said Apple of Fay, Okla. “I’ve been putting in the work, and I’ve been trying real hard. I’m trying to tap into the talent that God’s given me. This victory is not for me; it’s for him.”

Apple took the lion’s share of the prize money, outscoring two men in the top 10: No. 6 man Beau Schueth and the third-ranked bullfighter, Weston Rutkowski, the two-time defending world champion. Both Schueth and Rutkowski finished with 77.

“I’m just really thankful I was able to put my talents and hard work in and get the win,” he said.

Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls
Dodge City, Kan.
July 31, 2018
1. Elliot Jacoby, 90 points on JK Rodeo’s Zorro, $4,907; 2. Shane Proctor, 89, $3,762; 3. Boudreaux Campbell, 88.5, $2,781; 4. Dustin Boquet, 87, $1,799; 5. Eli Vastbinder, 86.5, $1,145; 6. Tyler Hessman, 85.5, $818; 7. (tie) Aaron Williams and Jeston Mead, 85, $572.

Bullfighters Only
1. Schell Apple, 81 points; 2. (tie) Weston Rutkowski and Beau Schueth, 77.

postheadericon Branch wins Dodge City title

Roger Branch, center, receives his Western Beverage Dodge City Roundup Rodeo championship buckle after winning the steer roping title Tuesday afternoon. He is flanked by Dr. R.C. Trotter, left, the Roundup president, and John Bogner with Western Beverage. (PHOTO BY DAVID SEYMORE)

Roger Branch, center, receives his Western Beverage Dodge City Roundup Rodeo championship buckle after winning the steer roping title Tuesday afternoon. He is flanked by Dr. R.C. Trotter, left, the Roundup president, and John Bogner with Western Beverage. (PHOTO BY DAVID SEYMORE)

Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Steer Roping
July 31, 2018
Steer roping: First round: 1. Trevor Brazile, 10.5 seconds, $1,863; 2. Scott Snedecor, 10.7, $1,542; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 11.0, $1,220; 4. Brady Garten, 11.5, $899; 5. Rod Hartness, 11.8, $578; 6. Roger Branch, 12.2, $321. Second round: 1. Rocky Patterson, 9.4 seconds, $1,863; 2. (tie) Ralph Williamsand Jarrett Blessing, 9.8, $1,381 each; 4. Chris Glover, 11.0, $899; 5. Cody Lee, 10.3, $578; 6. Brent Lewis, 10.5, $321. Third round: 1. Tuf Cooper, 9.3 seconds, $1,863; 2. Blake Deckard, 9.6, $1,541; 3. Brady Garten, 9.9, $1,220; 4. (tie) Tony Reina and Ty Herd, 10.2, $739 each; 6. Marty Jones, 10.3, $321. Average: 1. Roger Branch, 35.1 seconds on three runs, $2,794; 2. Brady Garten, 35.3, $2,312; 3. Trevor Brazile, 37.2, $1,831; 4. Marty Jones, 37.8, $1,349; 5. Vin Fisher Jr., 38.9, $867; 6. Ryan Willberg, 39.4, $482.

postheadericon Fair and rodeo is a great value

Fairgoers show up strong to the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. There is a tremendous value that comes with the $10 adult gate admission, whether it's Xtreme Bulls on Tuesday night or Martina McBride on Saturday.

Fairgoers show up strong to the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. There is a tremendous value that comes with the $10 adult gate admission, whether it’s Xtreme Bulls on Tuesday night or Martina McBride on Saturday.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The children point to the bright lights and exciting rides on the carnival’s midway.

The agriculture folks look at the wonderful lessons and great experiences with all the exhibits and shows.

The rodeo fans direct attention to the award-winning and historic rodeo at Jake McClure Arena and the elite contestants that make their way to the area every year to compete for big money.

Others, still, are ready for the great concert lineup:

Friday, Aug. 3: Polo Urias and Grupo Intocable
Tuesday, Aug. 7: Koe Wetzel
Wednesday, Aug. 8: TobyMac
Thursday, Aug. 9: Aaron Watson
Friday, Aug. 10: Easton Corbin
Saturday, Aug. 11: Martina McBride

But the biggest factor that makes the Lea County Fair and Rodeo such a success and fairgoers’ favorite is the overall value that comes with this amazing entertainment package, set for Friday, Aug. 3-Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.

Adult tickets are just $10, with children 6-12 getting through the gates for just $5; children 5 and younger are free.

“We are able to keep our ticket prices low, because the Lea County Commission underwrites the entire fair and rodeo,” said Kathy Welborn, vice chairwoman of the Lea County Fair Board. “In addition to our great ticket prices, our Wednesday night is Faith and Family night, and there is no admission cost.

“It’s our biggest night, and it brings in a lot of people.”

There is also a big list of local sponsors that help with the financial side of things. Those sponsors are another big reason the ticket prices haven’t risen more than $5 over the last eight years.

It’s all about entertaining as many people as possible, which has been the case for more than eight decades.

“What makes this event so great is all the planning that goes into it,” Welborn said. “The day the gates open, to see all those kids going through there is amazing. We’re all about the families.

“It’s the great food, the great feelings of accomplishment. There are so many people involved in it, and it takes many people to make it happen.”

postheadericon Staff, volunteers are fair’s backbone

Lea County Fair Board member Trey Kerby, the chairman of the rodeo committee, looks over the competition while performing various duties for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

Lea County Fair Board member Trey Kerby, the chairman of the rodeo committee, looks over the competition while performing various duties for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Tens of thousands of people come through the gates of the Lea County Fairgrounds every August.

That’s because the Lea County Fair and Rodeo is a big deal. It’s not just folks from the southeastern-most county in New Mexico, but people from all over the Southwest who make the exposition a major entertainment spot.

That kind of popularity means it takes a crew of hundreds of people to make things happen at the fair and rodeo, set for Aug. 3-11 in Lovington. It’s a combination of talented staff members working closely with dedicated volunteers.

“The fair board is made up of volunteers, and every committee is made up of volunteers,” said Kathy Welborn, vice chairwoman of the Lea County Fair Board. “It literally takes hundreds of volunteers to put this fair and rodeo on. We just couldn’t do it without each of them.”

That says so much about the types of people that make Lea County their home. It is a rugged terrain with hard-working individuals who know what it means to put in a day’s labor to make ends meet, then work a little more to help others.

“The rodeo committee is completely volunteer,” said Trey Kerby, a fair board member and chairman of the rodeo committee. “They don’t have to show up, and they work all year. They have a meeting every month. Being on the fair board and being chairman of the committee, I’ve chosen to have that responsibility.

“These guys show up every month, then they show up to the rodeo that week. With slack starting at 11 a.m. and the rodeo starting at 7 pm., it’s all rodeo all the time for five days.”

But it’s not just the rodeo committee that puts in many hours; it’s every committee and sub-committee that is associated with the fair.

“They put their lives on hold to put on this fair and rodeo,” Kerby said. “I really appreciate those guys and gals that have the interest to do this for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.”

It’s a collaborative effort. Each volunteer understands he or she has the support of the Lea County staff and the Lea County Commission.

“Our commissioners have all worked hard on this,” Welborn said. “Our general manager, Jim Kemp, has worked hard on this. They have made things like this great. We have great cooperation from all around the county.”

Kemp has been part of the operation for many years and took over as GM a little more than a year ago. His hard work is just proof of what it takes to produce a top-flight exposition.

“Jim is an upright and upstanding man,” Welborn said. “He’s done things the right way. He’s for Lea County. He is a very good manager, and people really like him.

“The community is a big part of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. It makes us really proud to have such outstanding commissioners who are for our fair and rodeo and all the things they do for the county.”

postheadericon Hard work pays off in Salinas

Ross Hill celebrates after winning the final round and the average title at the Bullfighters Only Wrangler Bullfight Tour stop at California Rodeo Salinas. After a year and a half away from the game, Hill returned from injury to reach the top in Salinas.

Ross Hill celebrates after winning the final round and the average title at the Bullfighters Only Wrangler Bullfight Tour stop at California Rodeo Salinas. After a year and a half away from the game, Hill returned from injury to reach the top in Salinas.

Hill completes comeback during BFO Wrangler Bullfight Tour stop

SALINAS, Calif. – Between them, Ross Hill and Nathan Harp have undergone two surgeries and two years of rehabilitation over the last 14 months.

Their persistence paid off this past weekend at the Bullfighters Only Wrangler Bullfight Tour stop at California Rodeo Salinas. Hill won the overall crown by winning the final two nights of freestyle bullfighting, edging Harp by just half a point in the process, 326.5 to the Okie’s 326.

“Starting out fresh, I knew by the final round on Sunday that I would have it figured out,” said Hill, a BFO pioneer who has missed the last year and a half of action. “I had to get back into the swing of things, but after the first two rounds, I felt like I could dial it back in like I knew how to fight a bad Spanish bull.”

Hill had a serious ACL tear, with the original injury occurring in 2009 and compounding from there. He reinjured the same knee twice in 2016, which caused additional damage to his meniscus. Surgery took place this past January, and he was cleared to compete again last week.

“It feels good to know my knee is in good shape,” said Hill of Muscle Shoals, Ala. “I have a lot of confidence about my physical condition. My knee feels amazing. This is the first year that I can remember not being sore.”

The “Alabama Slammer” won the Salinas title for the third time in his career: He shared the title with fellow BFO pioneer Dusty Tuckness in 2007, then won it outright the following year. Those that have tracked his progress since surgery knew it would be possible.

“When he injured it many years ago, then re-did it again in 2016, that was the final straw,” said Keith Skates, the sports medicine coordinator for Fit N Wise Sports Medicine and Bullfighters Only. “When Dr. (Bob) Clifford did the surgery, he noticed that Ross had two bucket-handle tears in his meniscus. To have one was pretty intense, but to have two is an even bigger deal.

“The ACL was so ruptured that it started to grow through his PCL.”

That was a lot of work to be done on one knee. Harp knows about that. When he was injured in April 2017, his surgeon had to repair the ACL, a torn MCL and torn meniscus. He went back to work in cowboy protection this past December, but Salinas was his first time back in a freestyle competition.

“It was great to be back in front of some fighting bulls,” said Harp of Tuttle, Okla. “I’ve fought a lot of rodeos since December, but to nod my head for one for 60 seconds was exciting. I was at the most peace and had the most fun at a freestyle bullfight in a long time. It felt good to be back and enjoying it the way it’s supposed to be.”

With the victory, Hill took the lion’s share of the payout, earning $6,400. Harp collected $5,400. Both paydays will come in handy as the men look to qualify for the BFO Las Vegas Championship, which takes place annually at Tropicana Hotel & Casino and featuring the biggest prize money in the game.

“The guys at Fit N Wise helped me in getting my physical conditioning back,” Hill said. “I’d go in there every day and do workouts. We’d steadily progress my workouts. As I’d gotten stronger, the workouts were more intense. I was feeling better than I had in a long time.”

That’s exactly how Harp felt through the four rounds of tough competition in Salinas.

“I definitely wanted to win, but it was awesome to see Ross make his comeback,” Harp said. “I remember how it was when I first came back to work. I don’t know if I could win an event on my first bull back. For him to do that against the competition there, it was pretty awesome to see.”

RESULTS
1. Ross Hill, 326.5 points on four fights; 2. Nathan Harp, 326; 3. Zach Flatt, 321; 4. Cody Emerson, 319.5; 5. Weston Rutkowski, 316.5; 6. Toby Inman, 309.5.

postheadericon Cowboys love Roundup Rodeo

Reigning four-time world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey is one of many top athletes who are expected to return to Dodge City this August for Roundup Rodeo.

Reigning four-time world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey is one of many top athletes who are expected to return to Dodge City this August for Roundup Rodeo.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Every August, folks all across southwest Kansas have the opportunity to see the greatest stars ProRodeo has to offer.

This is a preview of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, only four months early during the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1-Sunday, Aug. 5, at Roundup Arena. That also includes the Xtreme Bulls, which takes place Tuesday, July 31.

Last year’s champions read like a who’s who among NFR qualifiers: Boudreaux Campbell and Steve Woolsey won the Xtreme Bulls, while bareback rider Tilden Hooper, steer wrestler Tom Lewis, tie-down roper Timber Moore, steer roper Vin Fisher Jr. and bull rider Shane Proctor were just five of the rodeo titlists. All have an NFR resume, and Proctor is a world champion.

“We take pride in having the kind of rodeo that attracts the top cowboys and cowgirls in the game,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, president of the Roundup committee, a group of volunteers that works year-round to produce the rodeo each August.

“We love that they want to come here, and we want them back every year.”

Roundup is historic with a fantastic legacy. Over the years, it has been home to the greatest cowboys to have ever played the game. In fact, the rodeo committee was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2012 and continues to be recognized as one of the best events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“This is a great rodeo” said Hooper, a four-time NFR qualifier from Carthage, Texas. “It’s one of my favorites to come to every year, and I’ve always had good luck here.”

Roundup has been selected as the PRCA Rodeo of the Year nine times, and the contestants recognize that. Shade Etbauer became the second generation of his family to win the saddle bronc title; his father, Robert, and uncles, Dan and Billy, all won Roundup through the 1980s and ’90s.

“It’s always tough competition and the top guys in the world,” said the younger Etbauer, the 2017 PRCA Rookie of the Year from Goodwell, Okla. “To be able to compete against them is incredible.”

Contestants will compete in preliminary rounds, with the top times and scores advancing to the championship round, which takes place Sunday, Aug. 5. That night’s field will include several reigning and past world champions, all of whom had competed at some point earlier in the week.

“What we like about the format is that be best of the best in our short round Sunday night,” Trotter said. “It really is an NFR preview. Nearly all the contestants competing that night have been or will be competing in Las Vegas at some point.”

The first stop, though, is Dodge City. It’s home to the largest rodeo in Kansas, with the most contestants vying for the largest purse. In fact, Roundup features one of the largest purses in the PRCA, which is another reason it’s so attractive to the contestants.

“The committee is so good to us, and we appreciate them,” said Tom Lewis, an NFR qualifier from Lehi, Utah. “It’s nice driving this far and making it pay off.”

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