postheadericon Eagle is ready for big-time rodeo

Bareback rider George Gillespie surges out of the chutes on two-time Bareback Horse of the Year Dirty Jacket during a recent Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. Dirty Jacket is just one of the great bucking animals Pete Carr Pro Rodeo will have in Eagle next week.

Bareback rider George Gillespie surges out of the chutes on two-time Bareback Horse of the Year Dirty Jacket during a recent Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. Dirty Jacket is just one of the great bucking animals Pete Carr Pro Rodeo will have in Eagle next week.

EAGLE, Colo. – The organizers of the Eagle Fair and Rodeo have a few tricks up their sleeves for this year’s rodeo.

From the high-flying entertainment of decorated rodeo clown Troy Lerwill to the trick riding talents of the Daredevil Darlings to announcer Scott Grover calling the action from horseback, fans will experience a true showcase during the rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 20-Saturday, July 23, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

“We are doing the concerts again, a dirt dance, on Friday and Saturday after the rodeo,” said Tanya Dahlseid, a key member of the Eagle County staff. “We’re also having an additional specialty act in the Daredevil Darlings, who will be performing all four nights.

“The crowd seems to like the acts, so we’re just adding more. The fair board wanted to try it.”

The acts will go hand-in-hand with the world-class production from the team of talented professionals that are part of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the largest stock contracting firm in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. From great production to many of the greatest bucking athletes in the sport, fans have come to expect great things during Eagle’s rodeo.

“Pete Carr has the most amazing staff to work with, and his production is phenomenal,” Dahlseid said. “The stock, the performance … everything is just perfect. With the cool weather we have here in the mountains, the animals do amazing.”

The proof shows every year. In 2009, Ryan Gray matched moves with Carr’s Grass Dancer for a world record-tying 94-point ride. Last year, Richmond Champion scored 90 points on Dirty Jacket, the reigning two-time Bareback Horse of the Year.

Paint that into the canvas with the spectacular setting that is Eagle County, Colo., and there’s a reason why the greatest cowboys and cowgirls in the game are part of the rodeo every year.

“I think it’s a combination of our location and Pete Carr,” Dahlseid said. “I think a lot of people that come here for the rodeo add a few days and make it their vacations.

“Pete’s stock is phenomenal, and the contestants follow it. We’re fortunate to get so many of the best cowboys to be here.”

That combination is making a difference in how things work around Eagle. Fair and rodeo sponsors have been supportive over the years, and that endorsement has been beneficial.

“It’s because of the production and because of how professional Pete and his staff are,” she said. “We’ve been selling tickets like crazy already. That shows that we’re doing something right. We have an amazing team.”

Grover is new to the team, but he brings a solid pedigree with him to the mountains. He has been selected to work the Prairie Circuit Finals and National Circuit Finals rodeos.

“We’re very excited that he’s going to be announcing from horseback,” Dahlseid said. “It’s just another aspect of our rodeo that I think our fans will love.”

It’s another reason why the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo is one of the best.

postheadericon Wing, Hayes ready for PBR event

GUYMON, Okla. – Kasey Hayes loves riding bulls and competing at a high level, but bigger things have happened in his life recently.

His wife gave birth to their second child on June 17, so it’s been a little hectic around their Liberal, Kan., home. Still he has big plans to be in Texas County later this month to defend his title at the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate; children 5 and younger are free.

Kasey Hayes

Kasey Hayes

A year ago, Hayes utilized the victory near his hometown to secure his eighth qualification to the PBR World Finals. He will have a “meeting of the minds” with his good friend in Wing to be part of one of the best minor league events in the association each year.

“Last year’s event in Guymon turned out really good,” said Wing, a six-time world finals qualifier from Dalhart, Texas. “We’ve got an exceptional group of people from around that area that do all the work. Kasey and his wife just had their second son and I have a lot going on, so we’ve been running around; they’ve all been getting it tended to.”

While a local committee of dedicated volunteers handles the bulk of the load, Hayes and Wing provide the PBR star power. It’s the closest event to their homes the two cowboys compete in all year, so being part of the program is important to them.

“Just to be able to have it is a blessing,” Wing said. “If you’re going to do something, you want to do it right.”

Wing and Hayes are proud of their event, and they understand it takes many people and many personalities to make it happen.

Stormy Wing

Stormy Wing

“If you’re going to have a rank bull riding like we did last year, then I don’t see why we couldn’t be one of the best,” Wing said. “The other bull riders like what we have in bringing in the stock and the hospitality we provide.

“The people around there are amazing. You’ve got good bulls and good prize money, then you’re going to bring the guys to your event.”

Take a year ago as an example. Eighteen of the top 25 bull riders in the PBR world standings were part of the competition inside Hitch Arena. The buzz has been getting around the bull-riding world that a great event takes place in the Oklahoma Panhandle every July.

“H.D. Page has been the stock contractor of the year, and he will bring good bulls,” Wing said. “It’s a good atmosphere; the Built Ford Tough events (the PBR’s premier tour) are all indoor events. They’re great, but I think when the summer comes, the guys like getting outdoors a bit.

“When you see that arena packed like it’s been the last two years, it’s hard not to get excited.”

Fans have learned to expect great things at Guymon’s PBR event. Meanwhile, Wing wants to add his name to the list of champions.

“I ride bulls because I love it and because God gave me the opportunity,” he said. “It’s a fight between me and the bull, and I want to win.”

postheadericon Burns giving back to local fair

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The Lea County Fair and Rodeo will continue to be a big part of Kenyon Burns’ life for years to come.

“I have celebrated my birthday at the fair for the last 40 years,” said Burns, who will turn 41 during this year’s exposition.

Now a member of the Lea County Fair Board, his birthday party will be a bit different. Not only does he help with the planning and preparation of the annual expo, he is the chairman of the board’s rodeo committee.

Kenyon Burns

Kenyon Burns

Like most that grew up in this town of nearly 12,000 people, Burns knows rodeo. He has been part of the sport most of his life, competing at his first rodeo at the age of 6. He carried that through various levels and has battled the best in the business as a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. In fact, he’s a two-time qualifier to the National Finals Steer Roping.

It is the task of the rodeo committee to organize and prepare all aspects of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13, at Jake McClure Arena. That also includes the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, which takes place Tuesday, Aug. 9.

“I was appointed to the fair board last year,” said Burns, owner of Burns Resources LLC. “I served on the rodeo committee, and I offered a little feedback about the rodeo. I can give them an opinion from the cowboy’s point of view.

“You have to have cowboys to put on a rodeo, so I think it’s valuable to have that in the mix.”

Now he owns the presiding voice within the group. Though there are aspects that can be a bit overwhelming, Burns knows his task is to continue the greatness of Lovington’s rodeo that has been established over the years – not only is it historic, but it has been recognized as one of the top rodeos in the PRCA for several year with nominations for Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year.

“We’ve had lots of really good people make this rodeo what it is today,” he said. “I’m likening this experience to roping in the short round at a rodeo somewhere. I want to back into the (roping) box saying, ‘There are 11 other ropers here today, and I’m going to kick their butts.’ ”

That winning attitude is part of what makes the Lea County Fair and Rodeo a world-class event.

“Kenyon has done a real good job in his role,” said Corey Helton, the fair board’s chairman. “He stepped in and made some changes to the slack time that I think will be pretty good. That’s the biggest committee on the fair board. That’s one of the biggest responsibilities. As the rodeo chairman, that’s a big set of shoes to fill.”

There are a lot of big shoes filled by volunteers.

“This fair and rodeo wouldn’t exist without the volunteers,” Helton said, pointing out that a dedication will take place during part of the rodeo. “Some of these volunteers that you see in the livestock barn have been here for years. Year after year, they are volunteering their time to guide and lead these kids and get them where they need to be.

“We owe everything to the volunteers, and it’s about time they get recognized for that.”

Though he has been a volunteer for a short time, Burns has seen first-hand the importance. As a fairgoer and contestant, he has reaped the rewards of many people’s labor.

“The volunteers care, and they’re going to pour their lives into it,” Burns said. “This is their life. They take their vacation during the week to make it as good is it can be.”

That dedication pays off for tens of thousands of fairgoers each year.

postheadericon Roundup celebrating 40th year

The grand entry parades in front of a pack grandstands during one of the performances of the 2015 Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. The annual event celebrates its 40th year in 2016.

The grand entry parades in front of a pack grandstands during one of the performances of the 2015 Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. The annual event celebrates its 40th year in 2016.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – The United States of America was just a year removed from its bicentennial celebration, and Dodge City was gearing up for the annual Dodge City Days.

Dodge City Roundup Inc. had been established, and the group of volunteers was already in the planning stages for its first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event. That was 1977, when disco was big and “Laverne & Shirley” ruled the prime-time television roost.

Roundup Rodeo is celebrating its 40th annual rodeo this year when the six-night event takes beginning at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2-Sunday, Aug. 7, at Roundup Arena. From the opening night of Xtreme Bull Riding and Bullfighters Only competition to championship round on the final night, there’s no better way to celebrate Dodge City’s place in history than the prestigious ProRodeo.

“Many things have changed over the years, but our commitment to putting on a high-quality rodeo for the cowboys, cowgirls and fans has been the same,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, the committee’s president. “We have a great group of volunteers who work very hard to make our rodeo one of the best in the country.

“We believe that this community and all of western Kansas should have the chance to see the biggest names in rodeo every year, and we take that into consideration with everything we do.”

Cody DeMoss

Cody DeMoss

In fact, Roundup Rodeo has been recognized as PRCA Rodeo of the Year nine times and was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2012. It has hosted dozens of world champions and hundreds of qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“I like the fact that it’s got some history there,” said Cody DeMoss, an 11-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La. “It’s an old cowboy town.”

It’s more than “Gunsmoke,” the 1955-1975 television drama based on Dodge City’s Old West history. No, the community’s history has far outlived the program in many ways, and the rich heritage continues to be celebrated every summer.

Roundup Rodeo is the centerpiece for Dodge City Days, the second largest community event in Kansas with a large economic impact. In its inaugural year, the rodeo featured 175 contestants and paid out more than $8,000. Over the last few years, the event has been home to about 800 ProRodeo contestants and has paid out more than $300,000.

It is, by far, the largest and richest rodeo in the Sunflower State. During the week of competition, Roundup Rodeo also hosts the Miss Rodeo Kansas queen and teen pageants.

“We’re very proud of the tradition and the legacy Roundup Rodeo has, not only in professional rodeo but also across the state,” Trotter said. “As we celebrate our 40th year, there are countless people who have made this rodeo a success over the last four decades, from community volunteers to outstanding sponsors to the cowboys themselves.”

That’s why Roundup Rodeo has become a true showcase for southwest Kansas.

postheadericon Egusquiza, Summers find the winning formula at Rooftop Rodeo

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

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

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

Dustin Egusquiza shows off his championship spurs.

Dustin Egusquiza shows off his championship spurs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

postheadericon Fontenot ropes right into the lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We click together.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

postheadericon Braden rides through Hell to the lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Braden is one of the leaders through four nights.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

postheadericon Cali cowboys cruise to the top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is in Estes Park so far.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

postheadericon Rodeo known as one of the best

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

postheadericon Momentum going for Schlegel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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