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LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ There is a certain passion that follows the rodeo trail.
It takes a lot of love to compete in a sport best known for a gypsy lifestyle, where the road not only is a way of transportation but also a place to live.
When full-time cowboys and cowgirls leave their homes in June, they know there is a great chance they wonâ€™t return until September. They sleep in vans, motels and specialized horse trailers that are outfitted with elaborate living quarters, and they make a living eight seconds at a time.
They dream of big-money opportunities, and theyâ€™ll get it at the Lea County Fair & Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6-Saturday, Aug. 9, at Jake McClure Arena. For four nights, the sportâ€™s brightest stars will make their gypsy homes in Lovington, even if only for a night, in order to compete at one of the largest events in ProRodeo.
â€śThere are several reasons we get so many of the top contestants,â€ť said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. â€śI think weâ€™re competitive with the added money, and the purse is similar to other tour rodeos going on at the same time.
â€śYou also have to give credit to Pete Carr for bringing good stock. Heâ€™s a well-respected stock contractor, and the cowboys know when they get to Lovington, theyâ€™ll get on good horses and bulls.â€ť
Carr owns Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, which will produce the rodeo and the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5. Carr has been a fixture in Lovington for a number of years.
â€śItâ€™s really a great community with an outstanding board of directors and a ton of committee volunteers,â€ť Carr said. â€śWe appreciate the opportunity to be part their team and together we are trying to improve the event every year. Youâ€™ll see the best of the best in Lovington.â€ť
The Carr crew packs quite a punch when it arrives in southeastern New Mexico. Last December, there were 27 Carr animals that were selected to perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association record. In addition, Carr was nominated as the 2013 stock contractor of the year.
â€śPete and his staff do an outstanding job with our rodeo every year,â€ť said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. â€śPete is great to work with, and he does a good job with the stock so that we continue to bet the best cowboys to come to our rodeo.â€ť
Good livestock is critical to a good rodeo, and regular NFR qualifiers know theyâ€™ll have a shot at a good paycheck when they arrive in Lovington to compete.
â€śItâ€™s nice to go to a rodeo and have really good horses out for everybody,â€ť said Jake Wright, a two-time NFR qualifier who earned a share of the saddle bronc riding championship in Lovington last year with his oldest brother, Cody. â€śThe stock contractor here has that kind of caliber that itâ€™s really a riding contest and not a drawing contest.â€ť
Good money and great stock are just two of the many ingredients that go into making Lea County a rodeo hot spot every August.
â€śI think thereâ€™s a lot of history around here with the Cooper family and Guy Allen and all those that have ties to the county,â€ť Helton said. â€śThose families live here, and that helps bring the cowboys here. But thereâ€™s also the cowboy atmosphere thatâ€™s here. You canâ€™t say enough about that.
â€śThe committee works very hard to make this an event the contestants want to come to. We have a VIP hospitality area and places for them to shower. These ideas came from the cowboys over the last several years to see what we can do to make it a better experience for them. We do care. We want them to be comfortable here.â€ť
That has translated well. Last year, the Lea County Fair and Rodeo was nominated as the PRCA large outdoor rodeo of the year, which is proof the cowboys love what is done in Lovington each summer.
The fans do, too.
CROSSETT, Ark. â€“ Each of the past two seasons, the Crossett Riding Club PRCA Rodeo has been recognized as one of the very best in the sport.
In 2012-13, the event has been nominated for Medium Size Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and stands as one of just five rodeos its size to receive the honor. Organizers will try to surpass those awards during this yearâ€™s event, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6-Saturday, Aug. 9, at Cap Gates Arena in Crossett.
â€śThere are three things that stand out to me on why that rodeoâ€™s so great,â€ť said Scott Grover, now in his sixth year calling the action. â€śThere is a very hard-working committee thatâ€™s not afraid to change and that always wants to do something every year to make the rodeo better, whether itâ€™s hiring the best acts or adding more money. They take this rodeo very seriously and the nomination very seriously.
â€śThe committee is striving to win the rodeo of the year title, and having Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeo is a big reason to that. Pete Carr is one of the premier stock contractors in the PRCA, and he always brings great stock. The third thing is that they care about hospitality, which is very important. The churches get involved and feed everyone at least twice a day.â€ť
The Carr crew has produced the rodeo for a number of years, and staff members work hand-in-hand with committee members to make sure the event goes off well.
â€śCrossett is an outstanding rodeo, and we are excited to be part of it,â€ť said Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm. â€śThe fact that the rodeo has been nominated the past two years shows how much work they put into it.â€ť
From handing out silver dollars to winning performers to having a large grand entry, the local organizers have proven how much they care about the little things that go on inside the arena.
â€śThe rodeo is put on by the Crossett Riding Club, which has a huge tradition in Crossett and the surrounding areas,â€ť Grover said. â€śThis is like families that have been there for years on years on years.â€ť
The great history is just one aspect of what it takes for fans to enjoy the overall rodeo experience. Crossettâ€™s status in ProRodeo is a key reason why many of the sportâ€™s brightest stars make their way to southern Arkansas in July.
But donâ€™t discount the importance of great livestock, which is one reason why Carr was nominated as PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year in 2013.
â€śThe whole rodeo company crew is very production savvy,â€ť Grover said. â€śThey understand what it takes to put on a fast show, an exciting show that fans want to continue to see.
â€śFrom top to bottom, what Pete has is solid with National Finals Rodeo and award-winning livestock, and thatâ€™s what attracts cowboys to Crossett.â€ť
With great cowboys and top-flight action, the Crossett rodeo is attractive to fans.
DODGE CITY, Kan. â€“ About a dozen years ago, Ty Lang decided to try his hand at steer wrestling while attending Dodge City Community College.
â€śI came to school as a calf roper and a team roper,â€ť said Lang of Montrose, Colo. â€śA handful of us wanted to start bulldogging.â€ť
The wheels were in motion. On Wednesday night during the first performance of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, Lang splashed through Roundup Arena and threw his steer in the deep mud in 3.9 seconds to take the early lead in the second round â€“ he suffered a penalty and a 14.4-second run during the first round in the morning and sits well off the pace in the two-run aggregate.
Still, he is in solid position to cash a nice paycheck in the home of his alma mater.
â€śA couple of great guys, Mike Greenleaf and Leonard Hampton, helped me along the way to get started in bulldogging,â€ť said Lang, who competes at about 70 rodeos per season. â€śThis was a great place for me to start going to school.
â€śMike got us a set of steers, and we started bulldogging.â€ť
This marks just the second time Lang has competed at Roundup Rodeo, but he found it to his liking despite the muddy conditions. Rain fell for almost 12 hours through the morning and into the afternoon. The first round in the timed events took place amidst pouring rain at times, and the arena mud was several inches deep across.
That makes it tough on the competitors and the animals.
â€śThis is one of the best rodeos in the country, so itâ€™s hard to miss,â€ť he said. â€śThat 3.9 makes it a lot more fun than a no-time. Itâ€™s something everybody has to fight. Itâ€™s a disadvantage, of course, but everybody has the same disadvantage.
â€śThese horses know what theyâ€™re doing. When you back in the corner (of the timed-event chute) it doesnâ€™t matter if itâ€™s snowing or 110 degrees or a mud hole out there; you just back in the corner and go do your job.â€ť
Langâ€™s goals this year are simple: He wants to make enough money to move up in the world standings so that he is eligible to compete at big winter rodeos, which have limits on the number of contestants; only the top contestants get a shot to compete at those big-money events.
â€śI want to get qualified for the big rodeos next winter so I have a shot to make it to the NFR next year,â€ť he said.
Thatâ€™s the dream of every ProRodeo contestant, and itâ€™s one that Lang has been chasing since the early 2000s in Dodge City.
â€śThe first time you jump a steer, itâ€™s a total addiction,â€ť Lang said. â€śItâ€™s the most addictive crack there is.â€ť
Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
July 30-Aug. 3
Bareback riding: 1. Casey Colletti, on Harry Vold Rodeoâ€™s Painted Coast, and Casey Breuer, on Voldâ€™s Hot Valley, 85 points; 3. Orin Larsen, 81; 4, Tilden Hooper, 78; 5. Winn Ratliff, 77; 6. (tie) Chris Harris, Seth Hardwick and Justin McDaniel, 74.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders:1. Bray Armes, 4.0 seconds; 2. Brandon Volker, 4.4; 3. Casey Martin, 4.5; 4. Tait Kvistad, 5.9; 5. Kyle Whitaker, 6.7; 6. Nick Guy, 6.9. Second round leaders: 1. Ty Lang, 3.9 seconds; 2. Levi Rudd, 4.5; 3. Bray Armes, 5.0; 4. Kait Kvistad, 5.2; 5. (tie) Ty Talsma and Logan Rudd, 5.3; 7. (tie) Brock White and Casey Martin, 5.6. Average leaders: 1. Bray Armes, 9.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Casey Martin, 10.1; 3. Kait Kvistad, 11.1; 4. Brock White, 13.1; 5. Brandon Volker, 15.5; 6. Ty Lank, 18.2; 7. Levi Rudd,18.7; 8. Logan Rudd, 19.7.
Team roping: First round leaders:1. Landon McClaugherty/Caleb Twisselman, 5.6 seconds; 2. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 5.7; 3. Robert Pixley/Joe Mattern, 5.9; 4. Tom Richards/Monty Joe Petska, 6.1; 5. Quisto Lopez/Travis Hobbs, 7.2; 6. Bobby Boyd DVM/Byron Wilkerson, 7.7; no other qualified times. Second round leaders: 1. Miles Baker/Dustin Searcy, 6.0 seconds; 2. Landon McClaugherty/Caleb Twissselman, 7.2; no other qualified times. Average leaders: 1. Miles Baker/Dustin Searcy, 17.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Landon McClaugherty/Caleb Twisselman, 22.8; 3. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 5.7 seconds on one run; 4. Robert Pixley, 5.9; 5. Tom Richards/Monty Joe Petska, 6.1; 6. Quisto Lopez/Travis Hobbs, 7.2; 7. Bobby Boyd/Byron Wilkerson, 7.7; 8. Brent Reichmuth/Allan Hughes, 25.2.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Cody Wright, 85 points on Harry Vold Rodeoâ€™s Kateâ€™s Hot Sister; 2. (tie) Taos Muncy and Isaac Diaz, 82; 4. Brady Nicholes, 78; 5. Cody Taton, 76; 6. Hardy Braden, 72; 7. Joaquin Real, 71; 8. Spencer Wright, 70.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Cody Ohl, 12.0 seconds; 2. Adam Gray, 15.7; 3. Sean O’Neil, 16.6; 4. Chris Neal, 18.1; 5. Marcos Costa, 23.3; 6. Tanner Stec, 23.4. Second round leaders: 1. Marcos Costa, 10.2 seconds; 2. Cody Ohl, 11.0; 3. Adam Gray, 12.0; 4. Sean Oâ€™Neil, 13.8; 5. Clete Scheer, 17.9; no other qualified times. Average leaders: 1. Cody Ohl, 23.0 seconds on two runs; Adam Gray, 27.7; 3. Sean Oâ€™Neil, 30.4; 4. Marcos Costa, 33.5; 5. Clete Sheer, 17.9 seconds on one run; 6. Tanner Stec, 23.4.
Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Shada Brazile, 17.87 seconds; 2. Jessi Fish, 17.96; 3. Sarah Rose McDonald, 18.19; 4. Jane Melby, 18.37; 5. Jaime Barrow, 18.42; 6. Korrina Lynn Hughes, 18.51. Second round leaders: 1. Jane Melby, 18.43 seconds; 2. Jessi Fish, 18.52; 3. Shelbie Parrish, 18.56; 4. Sara Rose McDonald, 18.61; 5. Katie Loughran, 18.71; 6. Korinna Lynn Hughes, 19.21; 7. Hannah Ragsdale, 19.33 seconds; 8. Hali Scott, 19.79; 9. Kaela Haddon, 19.88; 10. Jaime Barrow, 23.23; no other qualified runs. . Average leaders: 1. Jessi Fish, 36.48 seconds on two runs; 2. (tie) Sarah Rose McDonald and Jane Melby, 36.80; 4. Katie Loughran, 37.38; 5. Korrina Lynn Hughes, 37.72; 6. Shelbie Parrish, 37.75; 7. Hali Scott, 38.69; 8. Kaela Haddon, 38.96; 9. Hannah Ragsdale, 40.23; 10. Jaime Barrow, 41.65.
Bull riding: 1. Tyler Smith, 84 points on Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Elise Said What; 2. J.W. Harris, 83; 3. Dillon Tyler, 75; 4. Tag Elliott, 74; 5. Elijah Mora, 64; 6. Casey Huckabee, 53; no other qualified rides.
DODGE CITY, Kan. â€“ Tim Bingham is on pace to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time in his young career.
On Tuesday night, Bingham took another step closer by claiming the championship at the inaugural Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls at Roundup Arena. The Honeyville, Utah, cowboy pocketed $5,261 on Tuesday night, pushing his season earnings to $56,363. Just as importantly, he moved up one spot to seventh in the world standings.
â€śIâ€™ve been in a similar position before, but not nearly what I am here,â€ť said Bingham, who finished 20th in the 2012 standings, just five spots out of qualifying for the NFR, the sportâ€™s year-end championship. â€śItâ€™s pretty much a dream coming true before your eyes, and itâ€™s not even finished yet.â€ť
Bingham won the first round with an 86-point ride on Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Centerfold, earning more than $1,500 for that. He then came back in the final round with an 85.5 on Frontierâ€™s Swamp Dog; he finished second in the round behind Jordan Spears, who posted the highest marked ride of the night with an 89 on Frontierâ€™s Kojack. Binghamâ€™s two ride total of 171.5 was eight and a half points better than Spears, who had a 74 in the opening round.
â€śYou have to be consistent enough to back up your first ride,â€ť said Bingham, who has victories this season in Spanish Fork, Utah; Clovis, Calif.; San Francisco; Sisters, Ore.; Salt Lake City and Elizabeth, Colo. â€śThatâ€™s where Iâ€™ve been struggling. I can get my first ones rode, but I struggle in the short round. Finally I got a short-round bull covered and won.â€ť
The Xtreme Bulls tour is a part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Money won not only counts toward the Xtreme Bulls standings but also the bull riding world standings. His Dodge City winnings will move Bingham from 48th to 23rd. He is in good position to qualify for the Xtreme Bulls Finals, which will take place Labor Day weekend in Ellensburg, Wash.
The bigger picture is the NFR qualification and a shot at the elusive world championship. Bingham knows he must follow a simple clichĂ© of taking advantage of every ride and every opportunity, but heâ€™s placed himself in great position heading into the final two months of the season.
He is scheduled to compete again Friday night during the third performance of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. A good showing later this week could make all the difference, and he has a pretty good track record in southwest Kansas.
â€śIâ€™ve only ever been on one bull here and rode it, but I missed the short round,â€ť he said, referring to Sunday nightâ€™s championship, which features the top 12 contestants from the preliminary rounds that take place Wednesday-Saturday. â€śI was one for one here, so now Iâ€™m three for three.â€ť
It all adds up quite well inside Roundup Arena.
Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls
Dodge City, Kan.
First round: 1. Tim Bingham, 68 points on Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Centerfold, $1,508; 2. Tate Stratton, 81.5, $1,182; 3. Triston Boor, 76, $903; 4. Jordan Spears, 74, $624; 5. Ty Wallace, 69, $438; no other qualified rides. Short round: 1. Jordan Spears, 89 points on Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Kojack, $1,875; 2. Tim Bingham, 85.5, $1,427. Average: 1. Tim Bingham, 171.5 points on two rides, $2,326; 2. Jordan Spears, 163, $1,784; 3. Tate Stratton, 81.5, $1,318; 4. Triston Boor, 76, $853; 5. Ty Wallace, 69, $543.
Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
July 30-Aug. 3
Steer roping: First round: 1. (tie) Neal Wood and Travis Mills, 12.7 seconds, $1,705 each; 3. Tony Reina, 13.2, $1,222; 4. Roger Branch, 13.5, $901; 5. Jess Tierney, 13.8, $579; 6. Landon McClaugherty, 14.0, $322. Second round: 1. J.B. Whatley, 11.2 seconds, $1,866; 2. Tuf Cooper, 11.5, $1,544; 3. (tie) Tom Smith and Chet Herren, 12.0, $1,062; 5. Jason Evans, 12.1, $579; 6. Brodie Poppino, 12.2, $322. Third round: 1. Trevor Brazile, 10.3 seconds, $1,866; 2. (tie) J. Tom Fisher and Joe Wells, 12.0, $1,383 each; 4. Corey Ross, 12.2, $901; 5. Mike Chase, 12.3, $979; 6. Rocky Patterson, 12.4, $322. Average: 1. Tyrel Taton, 43.0 seconds on three runs, $2,799; 2. Brodie Poppino, 43.6, $2,316; 3. Jess Tierney, 45.3, $1,834; 4. C.A. Lauer, 46.1, $1,351; 5. Martin Poindexter, 46.3, $869; 6. Tom Smith, 49.4, $483.
DODGE CITY, Kan. â€“ The Dodge City Roundup Rodeo has been a world-class event for much of its existence.
This year, the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour event also is receiving unprecedented live coverage from some of the biggest web-based entities in ProRodeo. For those who canâ€™t make their way to this southwest Kansas community, the weekend performances will be carried live on the Internet.
Steve Kenyonâ€™s ProRodeo Live will broadcast the final three performances, which will take place at 7:45 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday â€“ the Sunday showcase is the championship round and will feature the top contestants from the qualifying rounds that take place through the week.
Rob Matthews will make the call for ProRodeo Live. Fridayâ€™s broadcast will air Saturday afternoon on Rural Radio 80, and Saturdayâ€™s show will air Sunday afternoon on that Sirius XM station. The championship round will re-broadcast on Rural Radio 80 on Saturday, Aug. 9.
The championship round also will be simulcast live Sunday night on the Wrangler Network online.
â€śThis is a very exciting time for Roundup Rodeo,â€ť said Dr. R.C. Trotter, the chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. â€śWeâ€™re happy to partner with ProRodeo Live and the Wrangler Network to be able to share our rodeo with everyone that wants to follow it. We believe we have one of the very best rodeos in the country, and weâ€™re proud to have this opportunity to share it.â€ť
The rodeo begins Tuesday with steer roping competition throughout the day, followed by the inaugural Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls at 7:45 p.m. Performances for the rodeo take place at the same time beginning Wednesday.
LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ When Tate Branch opened his vehicle dealership in Hobbs, N.M., a few years ago, he realized there were several gifts that came with it.
â€śI feel like Iâ€™m very, very blessed,â€ť said Branch, owner of Tate Branch Dodge in Hobbs, Tate Branch Autoplex in Carlsbad and Tate Branch Auto Group in Artesia. â€śI feel like Iâ€™m in a position that God has blessed me, and this is one way I could give back.â€ť
The â€śthisâ€ť to which Branch referred is the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, a 10-night exposition that takes place Aug. 1-9 at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington. Tate Branch Dodge of Hobbs is the title sponsor for the annual fair and rodeo.
â€śThere is a passion in Lea County for this,â€ť he said. â€śThe fair and rodeo is huge, and I had no idea until six years ago when we opened the dealership in Hobbs. We got involved, and Iâ€™ve gotten passionate about rodeo over the last several years.â€ť
That passion is evident in many things Branch and the dealership do. Tate Branch Dodge endorses ProRodeo ropers Clint Cooper, Clif Cooper, Tuf Cooper, Jake Cooper and Jim Ross Cooper â€“ all of whom have ties to Lea County â€“ as well as saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy of Corona, N.M.
But close to home, Branchâ€™s commitment is focused strongly on the fair and rodeo.
â€śTate Branch, the owner as well as the dealership, recognizes how valuable the fair and rodeo is to all the people in Lea County and to the surrounding area,â€ť said Lindsay Chism, the marketing director for Tate Branch Dodge. â€śThe fair and rodeo is great entertainment, and itâ€™s great for the families to be excited.
â€śWe want to be able to provide that opportunity year after year. One thing that we could do to benefit the masses the most is helping to bring the fair and rodeo to Lea County.â€ť
Chism has seen the benefit most of her life. She grew up in Lea County and graduated from Hobbs High School. Sheâ€™s participated in the fair and rodeo as a youngster and continues to enjoy the festivities with her family.
â€śFor me, I think the parade on Wednesday is one of those things you really enjoy because you get to see the energy of all ages,â€ť she said. â€śYou can feel everybodyâ€™s excitement as they line all those miles up and down Lovington. I love how many people come out for that and how very uniting it is.
â€śI think it kicks off the big final four days and gets everybody really excited.â€ť
Branch purchased the Hobbs dealership in 2008. In the years since, he has witnessed that excitement up close and personal.
â€śWe have always believed with the three dealerships that there is an importance to being involved in the community and giving back to the community,â€ť said Branch, who grew up in Carlsbad, N.M. â€śWe are very family oriented and community oriented.â€ť
That attitude is paying off for many southeastern New Mexico residents, especially those who make their way to Lovington every August for the expo.
â€śIâ€™ve done quite a bit of research on this, and this is the largest county fair in the state of New Mexico,â€ť Branch said. â€śEvery year it seems like it grows. Itâ€™s all about the people and the passion they have for it. They plan around that week all year. Thatâ€™s important to us.â€ť
LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ There arenâ€™t many places one can go these days for just $8.
For folks near this community of about 10,000 people, thatâ€™s all it takes for a full day of entertainment at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which takes place Friday, Aug. 1-Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Lea County Fairgrounds.
Just consider what that one ticket is worth: ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, the Equilibrium Circus, the Ham Bone Express Pig Races, the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, a Wrangler Million Dollar Tour rodeo, livestock shows, the carnival, great food and some of the top concert acts in the country.
â€śWe do this for the citizens of the county, and they show up every year,â€ť said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. â€śThey are the ones who make this possible. Their tax dollars are what put this on.â€ť
Thatâ€™s important, and it also is why fair-goers are afforded such a bargain. Just the concerts alone would make the annual exposition a valuable piece of entertainment.
Saturday, Aug. 2: Night Ranger and 38 Special
Tuesday, Aug. 5: Casey Donahew Band
Wednesday, Aug. 6: MercyMe
Thursday, Aug. 7: Joe Nichols
Friday, Aug. 8: Dwight Yoakam
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Saturday, Aug. 9: Eli Young Band
The key factor is that the Lea County Commission underwrites the 10-day affair. There are many reasons why county officials support the event, but it all comes back to supporting the community.
â€śOur fair and rodeo is a quality-of-life deal for the county,â€ť said Dale Dunlap, now in his fifth year on the commission. â€śIt brings in outside people and brings in a lot of contestants and vendors. It provides a lot of economic impact to Lea County.
â€śItâ€™s something weâ€™ve always done, and itâ€™s always something that keeps getting bigger and better.â€ť
Thatâ€™s so true. More and more people are learning about the eastern New Mexico gem.
â€śWe want to show the people that weâ€™re interested in giving them entertainment,â€ť said Dunlap, who previously had spent six years on the Lea County Fair Board. â€śWe want to give back to the public and show them that we spend their tax dollars wisely.â€ť
In fact, those involved in livestock showing realize they have something special in Lovington.
â€śWith our livestock show and the sale, it teaches the young folks responsibility,â€ť Dunlap said. â€śIt could pay off in the long run. The sale is what I like to see because there are so many people who turn out to support these kids.â€ť
That says a lot, but thatâ€™s what many have come to expect with the exposition.
â€śThe flagship event for the county is the Lea County Fair and Rodeo,â€ť Helton said. â€śItâ€™s that one week a year that everybody comes together and catches up. Without the citizens here, I donâ€™t think we could do it. The support from them is unbelievable. Whether itâ€™s financial or other support we need, we seem to have it.â€ť
CHEYENNE, Wyo. â€“ Richie Champion has been one of the hottest bareback riders in rodeo this season.
On Sunday afternoon, the Texas cowboy rode one of the most celebrated horses in the sport to win the at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo championship. He matched moves with Pete Carr Pro Rodeoâ€™s Dirty Jacket for 91 points to win the short go-round and the coveted Cheyenne title, pocketing $12,122 in the process.
Leading cowboys to the winnerâ€™s circle is nothing new for Dirty Jacket, a 10-year-old bay gelding that has performed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo each of the last five years. In 2013, the powerful and athletic horse was named the Reserve World Champion bareback horse.
In fact, Dirty Jacket has been selected as one of the top three bareback horses in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association each of the past two seasons.
Champion is in his third year as a pro and is well on his way to his first qualification to the NFR. He has earned $66,826 this season in the PRCA and sits fourth in the world standings. But he wasnâ€™t the only Cheyenne champion to have benefited from a Pete Carr bucking animal.
Bull rider Austin Meier won the Frontier Days title for the first time in his career, posting an 87-point ride Sunday afternoon on Carrâ€™s Line Man, a bull that went to the NFR this past two Decembers. Meier, who placed in the second and third go-rounds, finished with a three-ride cumulative score of 254 points, beating four-time world champion J.W. Harris and two-time NFR qualifier Tyler Smith by two points.
Line Man, a black-and-white spotted bull, also helped Sage Kimzey to a 92-point ride to share the event championship this past May in Guymon, Okla. Meier, a regular on the Professional Bull Riders tour, earned $12,178 in Cheyenne.
GUYMON, Okla. â€“ Fabiano Vieira is the No. 2 bull rider on the Professional Bull Riders tour, and he proved just why Saturday night.
Vieira was the only cowboy to ride two bulls during the inaugural Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena, winning the championship and adding $7,367 to his already-hefty bank account â€“ so far this season, the Brazilian has earned nearly $193,000 riding bulls.
â€śFabiano is a phenomenal bull rider, and he did what he does,â€ť said Hayes, a six-time PBR World Finals qualifier from Liberal, Kan. â€śHeâ€™s a machine. He rides the bulls he gets on, and he wins. I was glad to see Fabiano win it. Heâ€™s a world-class competitor, and he came to Guymon, Oklahoma, and won.â€ť
Vieira was the first cowboy to earn a qualified ride in the first round, posting an 80-point ride on D&H Cattleâ€™s Co Jack. He placed fifth in the round, but most importantly, qualified for the championship round. Thatâ€™s where he showed his championship form, matching moves with D&Hâ€™s Wiggin Out for 86.5 points, the highest marked ride of the event.
There were just seven qualified rides Saturday night, but that was an indication of the bull power that was part of the festivities. Only five cowboys made qualified rides in the first round, with New Yorker Sevi Torturo winning with an 86 on Mike Whiteâ€™s KOL. Torturo finished second in the aggregate, pocketing $5,322.
â€śThe bull riders were telling us it was an excellent event,â€ť said Wing, a five-time World Finals qualifier from Dalhart, Texas.
By winning the title, Vieira earned the right for a match ride on the bounty bull, D&Hâ€™s Stone Sober. Vieira was unable to stay aboard the athletic bull for more than a couple of seconds and failed to collect the bounty.
â€śMe and Fabiano are good friends, and it means a lot to me to have him come to this event even though itâ€™s not a Built Ford Tough event,â€ť Hayes said, referring to the PBRâ€™s premier tour. I wish he wouldâ€™ve ridden that bounty bull for $10,000, but that is one bucking sucker.
â€śThis was just the ground floor for the future. I think the fans liked it. I hope it was everything they expected and more.â€ť
Kasey Hayes and Stormy Wing Invitational
Guymon, Okla., July 26, 2014
First round: 1. Sevi Torturo, 86 points on Mike Whiteâ€™s KOL, $1,326; 2. Simoa Da Silva, 83.5, $885; 3. (tie) Ryan McConnel and Josh Frihauf, 82, $497 each. Championship round: 1. Fabiano Vieira, 86.5 points on D&H Cattleâ€™s Wiggin Out, $1,823; 2. Robson Aragao, 84, $1,492. Average: 1. Fabiano Vieira, 166.5 points on two rides, $5,543; 2. Sevi Torturo, 86 points on one ride, $3,996; 3. Robson Aragao, 84, $2,449; 4. Simoa Da Silva, 83.5, $1,676; 5. (tie) Ryan McConnel and Josh Frihauf, 82, $902 each.
DODGE CITY, Kan. â€“ In the world of rodeo, there are a select few events across North America where a championship holds a little more prestige.
The Dodge City Roundup Rodeo is one of those.
â€śThis is an awesome rodeo, and itâ€™s a good time of year,â€ť said bareback rider Steven Peebles, a five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Redmond, Ore. â€śThey have lots of good horses. Everybody who rodeos knows about Dodge City. Iâ€™ve always wanted to win this rodeo.â€ť
Peebles won the first round and finished with a two-ride cumulative score of 169 points to claim a share of the title with fellow Oregonian R.C. Landingham of Pendleton. They are expected to be in the lineup to defend their titles at this yearâ€™s rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 30-Sunday, Aug. 3, at Roundup Arena.
They will be joined by nine other contestants who hope to leave this western Kansas community with another Roundup buckle, one of the most honored trophies in ProRodeo.
â€śI like this arena,â€ť said tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger, an 11-time NFR qualifier from Ponca City, Okla., who has multiple Roundup titles. â€śItâ€™s always been good to me.â€ť
In fact, Dodge City is one of the reasons Schneeberger owns more Prairie Circuit championships than any other tie-down roper in the history of the ProRodeo Circuit System â€“ he owns eight titles in the region that encompasses contestants and rodeos primarily from Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska; Roundup Rodeo is the biggest event in the circuit.
â€śWe take a lot of pride in our place in rodeo,â€ť said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event. â€śWe work very hard all year to put together an event that not only is great for our fans, but also for the rodeo cowboys and cowgirls. We celebrate our champions, and we want Dodge City to be the place to be every year.
â€śWe have a great list of Roundup champions, including many, many world champions, and that means a lot to us. Itâ€™s a sign that the best of the best work very hard to win our rodeo every year.â€ť
Of the 2013 champs, one is saddle bronc rider Cody Wright, a two-time world champion from Milford, Utah. Last August, Wright posted one of the highest marked rides of his 16-year career, a 91-point ride on Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Tom Gun.
â€śAnytime you can start winning, especially at a big rodeo and a tour rodeo so that you can stay in the race, itâ€™s great because there are so many great bronc riders,â€ť Wright said.
It marked the second time that the Utah cowboy has won the Roundup buckle; he also won the title in 2003. He is one of many of rodeoâ€™s brightest stars who own multiple Dodge City championships. But there also are plenty of guys like steer wrestler Seth Brockman who own just one crown.
â€śDodge City is a great rodeo, and itâ€™s one we all want to win,â€ť said Brockman, a 2011 NFR qualifier from Wheatland, Wyo. â€śIâ€™ve never done too well here. I placed good in a round here (in 2012), so I guess I finally learned how to put three good runs together here.â€ť
If possible, the 2014 version of Roundup Rodeo will feature a bigger week of entertainment, including world-class entertainers the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls and Justin Rumford, the two-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year. Rumford, who grew up in Abbyville, Kan., also won the 2013 Coors Man in the Can, an annual award given to the best barrelman in the business.
The biggest change in the schedule will be the Tuesday extravaganza, which will include a full day of roping followed by the inaugural Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls, a stand-alone bull riding event that will feature the top bull riders in the game. Steer ropers will open with the first two go-rounds starting at 8 a.m. The third round will begin at 4 p.m., followed by the Dodge City Roundup Pro-Am Team Roping. The bull riding will close a full day of action.
â€śWe will have six straight days of rodeo action,â€ť Trotter said. â€śI love that we will have our pro-am Tuesday, which will get a number of our local guys involved. It is exciting for us.â€ť
Itâ€™s exciting for everyone, from the worldâ€™s greatest cowboys and cowgirls to the fans who want to enjoy a solid week of entertainment.
LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ Over the years, the men and women who organize the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo work tirelessly to make it one of the best events to hit southeastern New Mexico every summer.
Their work is being recognized at a national level.
In 2013, the members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association nominated the rodeo as one of the top five large outdoor events in the country. With most of the PRCA membership being competing cowboys, it says something about the things being done every year.
â€śWhen I found out weâ€™d been nominated, it took my breath away,â€ť said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. â€śIt was such an honor considering who we were competing with, rodeos like Cheyenne (Wyo.) and Pendleton (Ore.) that have such a long history.
â€śTo be nominated in that group is such an honor. I was proud to be part of the fair board.â€ť
There are lots of reasons for that pride. In addition to the rodeo committee being nominated in 2013, Pete Carr was nominated as PRCA stock contractor of the year; Pete Carr Pro Rodeo produces the Lovington rodeo and has for a number of years.
â€śI think we have such a good relationship with Pete, and that makes a difference in our fair and rodeo,â€ť said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. â€śIt was very special to me that we were nominated for rodeo of the year the same time Pete was nominated for stock contractor of the year.
â€śWeâ€™ve said for a long time that Pete Carr is one of the best contractors in rodeo, and now everybody in the PRCA agrees.â€ť
Massey has been on the rodeo committee a number of years, and heâ€™s seen the rodeo grow over the years. Now itâ€™s a major part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour and hosts the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Combined with one of the greatest expositions in the region, it is a major stop for ProRodeoâ€™s biggest stars.
â€śIâ€™m also on the rodeo committee, and we work hard,â€ť Helton said. â€śWe go to Las Vegas during the convention and go to the meetings so that we can do things to make our rodeo better and better every year. It takes a lot of work, and every person on the committee is dedicated to making it the best it can be.
â€śBeing nominated is the biggest thing to happen to this fair and rodeo in a long time.â€ť
WINNSBORO, La. â€“ The sport of rodeo has a great history in this eastern Louisiana berg.
The tradition continues during the 57th annual Deep South PRCA Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 2, at Deep South Rodeo Arena in Winnsboro.
â€śIt is a very established rodeo thatâ€™s been around a long time,â€ť said Andy Stewart, the rodeoâ€™s announcer from nearby Collinston, La. â€śWe saw a lot of great cowboys from that area over the years that come to that rodeo.
â€śItâ€™s very community oriented. Itâ€™s a grassroots, downhome-type rodeo that has a great history.â€ť
That history is mixed with a top-notch production from the crew at Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeo, the livestock contractor for the event. Together, it makes for a phenomenal experience for contestants and fans.
â€śPete brings some really good stock to our rodeo, and thatâ€™s really good for us,â€ť said Skipper Stinson, a key member of the committee that produces the annual rodeo. â€śThat helps make our rodeo better. The better the cowboys and the better the stock, the better the rodeo is going to be.â€ť
Thatâ€™s something folks in Winnsboro have come to expect.
â€śWe get a lot of the circuit cowboys to come, and we get a lot of the great guys from our area,â€ť said Stewart, who has been nominated five times as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announcer of the year. â€śThe thing that Pete Carr and his crew provides at this rodeo is professionalism and production.
â€śThis is a very small arena and a very small community, but we bring in a great production and great animals. Itâ€™s a great, professional show.â€ť
It shows in the product. Last year, some of the top names in the game came away from Winnsboro with Louisiana cash. Texan Jake Brown scored 85 points to win bareback riding on Carrâ€™s Ragin Angel, a horse that has bucked at the NFR each of the past two years. Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La., won the saddle bronc riding crown on Carrâ€™s Miss Rodeo.
Those are just a few of the big names who make the Deep South Rodeo so strong.
â€śWhen the DeMoss boys come, it really boosted the whole crowd because they like to see our guys ride,â€ť Stinson said. â€śThey bring a lot of their friends to ride with them.â€ť
That says a lot about the Winnsboro rodeo, the community and the great animal athletes that are part of the mix.
â€śThis is just a great little rodeo,â€ť Stewart said. â€śOne thing that Winnsboro does is they have one of the largest kids rodeos in the South the weekend before the ProRodeo, and some of the kids get to ride during the actual rodeo. Thatâ€™s pretty cool.â€ť
It all adds up to a great show for rodeo fans.
GUYMON, Okla. â€“ There are a lot of adjectives to describe Cord McCoy: former bull rider, television show host, livestock contractor and reality TV star.
Theyâ€™re all mixed into a giant bag of cowboy. This weekend McCoy will be in the Oklahoma Panhandle for the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon.
McCoy will be one of the stock contractors at the event, providing bucking bulls to match the power of some of the Professional Bull Riders brightest rising stars. He also will be making appearances Saturday in Guymon.
From 10 a.m.-noon, McCoy will be part of an autograph session at Carterâ€™s Market Place, where he also will announce the winner of the â€śName the Bullâ€ť contest.
Starting at 2:30 p.m., he will be at Bobâ€™s Cowboy Bar and Rodeo Room signing autographs and meeting with fans. A booth will be set up at the arena before the event begins for autographs from McCoy, Hayes, Wing and other PBR stars.
McCoy, a ranch-raised cowboy from the tiny southeastern Oklahoma town of Tupelo, is a five-time International Professional Rodeo Association champion who qualified in bull riding for the National Finals Rodeo in 2005. In the years since, he has qualified numerous times to the PBR World Finals.
He is the host of â€śThe Ride with Cord McCoy,â€ť which airs on RFD-TV. Most notably, he and his brother, Jet, have appeared an unprecedented three times on the CBS-TV reality series â€śThe Amazing Race,â€ť most recently during the spring 2014 season. The McCoys have been fan favorites on the show since their first appearance in 2010. In fact, they were named Best Dynamic Duo for the 2014 CBS Fan Awards.
In addition to witnessing the true spectacle that is the PBR and seeing the associationâ€™s big names, this is a great opportunity for fans to meet one of the most well-known cowboys today.
DODGE CITY, Kan. â€“ Fans have come to expect nothing but greatness with the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.
Members of the volunteer committee that produce the annual event have come up with a topper in the form of the Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, at Roundup Arena.
â€śWe looked at ways we could add to our rodeo, and we realized there was something with the Xtreme Bulls,â€ť Roundup chairman Dr. R.C. Trotter said, referring to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Associationâ€™s bull riding-only events. â€śWe thought this was the perfect way to kick off a big week of rodeo in Dodge City.â€ť
Roundup is a big-time event in ProRodeo. Two years ago, it was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Each season, it regularly features a whoâ€™s who list of the sportâ€™s greatest stars. In fact, there are so many bull riders that most performances feature two sections of bull riding â€“ one to start the show, and one to finish.
â€śWe get a lot of bull riders every year, so we thought this was a great way to get the very best to show up one night,â€ť said Trotter, who, with his wife, Mary, is sponsoring the Xtreme Bulls with Glazerâ€™s/Miller/Coors. â€śI think the fans will love it.â€ť
They should. The Roundup championship buckle is one of the most sought-after prizes in the sport; now the Xtreme Bulls championship will be another strong piece to a bull riderâ€™s resume.
â€śDodge City is one of the best rodeos all year,â€ť said Sage Kimzey, a ProRodeo rookie who has led the bull riding world standings much of the season. â€śI love that they are having an Xtreme Bulls event, and it sounds like the city of Dodge City and the sponsors have stepped up to make this great.
The one-night affair will feature a large purse, which is attractive to the contestants. Now in its 10th year, the Xtreme Bulls Tour features a place for the top bull riders in the game to showcase their talents against some of the rankest bulls in the sport. Forty bull riders will all compete in the first round, with the best scores advancing to the championship round. The best cumulative score on the two rides will be crowned the inaugural Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls champion.
â€śXtreme Bulls is a very good deal for the sport of rodeo,â€ť said Kimzey, 19, of Strong City, Okla. â€śBull riding has always been a fan-favorite event, and Iâ€™m not saying that just because Iâ€™m a bull rider. If you can bring it all together with the top 40 bull riders and some hometown guys, you understand why itâ€™s such a good deal.
â€śItâ€™s great for the sport, great for the fans and great for the bull riders.â€ť
While Kimzey leads the world standings, four-time and reigning world champion J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas, leads the Xtreme Bulls money list. Both are expected to be in the line-up when the show rolls into town. Kimzey, who won the Xtreme Bulls title in San Antonio earlier this year, is hoping he continues his string of solid performances.
â€śMomentum is the most important thing in bull riding ad rodeo in general,â€ť said Kimzey, who earlier this month finished second at the College National Finals Rodeo. â€śItâ€™s such a mind game. You can fail 50 percent of the time, and youâ€™re still a good bull rider in todayâ€™s world.â€ť
LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ J.W. Harris is a man on a mission.
Last season, the Mullin, Texas, cowboy rode his way to a fourth bull riding world championship, earning nearly $253,000 for the season. This year, heâ€™s focused on gold buckle No. 5, which is why he will be part of all the action at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo â€“ first with the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, then during the rodeo, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6-Saturday, Aug. 9, at Jake McClure Arena.
Itâ€™s a hectic week of non-stop action for one of the greatest bull riders in ProRodeo history.
â€śYou can win a lot of money out of Lovington,â€ť said Harris, who in early July was No. 2 in the world standings. â€śThe last two year I finished pretty good in the bull riding and got thrown off my short-round bull at 7.9 seconds both times. You still win a lot of money at the bull riding, but then you turn right back around and have a chance to win money at the rodeo, too.
â€śThatâ€™s a big week for us, especially with the other rodeos going on. A man can make a lot of money right there in a week.â€ť
Harris knows what it takes to make money, especially in southeastern New Mexico. Over the last two years, Harris has earned $9,362 at the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Just imagine what could have happened had he finished off the final one-tenth of a second during the championship round.
â€śDoing well is always good at the Xtreme Bulls because they pay so well, depending on how well you do in each of the rounds,â€ť said Harris, who has earned more than $45,000 in Xtreme Bulls this season, more than half of his earnings as of July 7.
â€śIt helps you add a little bit of a cushion or make up a lot of ground in just one day, especially with the big-paying rodeos mostly being done by the time we get to Lovington. If you can win $15,000 out of Lovington, that just sets you up on the rest of the fall run.â€ť
The rodeo season runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30, and only the cowboys among the top 15 in earnings at the conclusion of the season earn the right to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which takes place at Las Vegas in December. Having big-money opportunities in August is critical for the contestants hoping to secure their spot at the year-end championship event.
It takes more than great cowboys to find success at that level; it takes great bulls, too. Thatâ€™s where Pete Carr Pro Rodeo comes in. Not only will the Dallas-based livestock contractor provide some of the greatest bulls in the game at the Xtreme Bulls event, Carr also solicits other top-caliber bulls from other contractors to be in Lovington for the challenge.
â€śWe have a tremendous lineup of bulls,â€ť Carr said. â€śItâ€™s going to be amazing with the caliber of bulls we have coming this year.â€ť
Thatâ€™s why world champions and others from ProRodeoâ€™s elite will take any means possible to be in Lovington for the event.
â€śWith the Xtreme bull riders in Lovington, it should be something people will talk about for a while,â€ť Carr said. â€śI think this is something that will draw a lot of fans to town, because itâ€™s going to be that good.â€ť
Thatâ€™s what organizers have learned over the past two seasons and why Xtreme Bulls returns to town again this August.
â€śWe thought it was an event that would go well with our fair and rodeo,â€ť said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. â€śWe think the people in this area would really enjoy it. Xtreme Bulls is a high-energy event that people in this area would turn out for.
â€śWith the price of our fair and rodeo being just $8 for admission, we felt like it was an outstanding event we could give to a family for a very affordable price.â€ť
EAGLE, Colo. â€“ Cowboys have come to expect big things when they arrive for the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.
A big reason for that is the amazing livestock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer for the annual rodeo, set for Wednesday, July 23-Saturday, July 26, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
Over the years, cowboys and fans have come to expect high scores over the course of the four-night rodeo that rests along the picturesque Rocky Mountains.
â€śThe cool thing about Eagle is everything bucks so well that you never know whatâ€™s going to win,â€ť said bareback rider Casey Colletti, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Pueblo, Colo.
The scores prove it. From the Ryan Gray-Grass Dancer match-up in 2009 that resulted in a world record-tying score of 94 points to rides regularly in the high 80s, Eagle is the perfect place for big-time rides.
â€śEagle is a pretty special place, even if weâ€™re just talking about the atmosphere,â€ť said Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm. â€śThe animals just love the weather. Itâ€™s really cool for us as well when you figure weâ€™re a Texas livestock company. Getting to go to Eagle in July from this kind of heat in Texas is a nice change for all of us.â€ť
Take last yearâ€™s performances, which featured a number of top scores from ProRodeoâ€™s biggest stars. Jesse Wright, the 2012 world champion saddle bronc rider from Milford, Utah, won the rodeo on Carrâ€™s Django, while three-time NFR qualifier Trevor Kastner of Ardmore, Okla., won the bull riding title on Carrâ€™s One Bad Cat.
A pair of up-and-coming cowboys shared the bareback riding championship with big rides on two of the greatest bucking horses in the game. George Gillespie IV of Elgin, Ore., matched moves with Dirty Jacket, while third-year pro Richie Champion of The Woodlands, Texas, rode Scarletâ€™s Web.
Having great animal athletes is the key to all cowboysâ€™ success, and they know theyâ€™ll have a good shot at a great payday with the Carr livestock in Eagle.
â€śPete has our interests in line,â€ť said Champion, who has been among the top 10 in the world standings much of the 2014 season. â€śHe wants us to have good horses to get on. Heâ€™s put in a lot of time to get good horses together, and he has a lot. He has horses that are consistent. Heâ€™s one of the guys that have the top animals and hauls them all over the country to give us a chance to win.â€ť
Champion has earned a number of key victories over the last 12 months, including the championship in Guymon, Okla., this past May while aboard Fancy Free, a regular at the NFR. But it doesnâ€™t matter whether itâ€™s amazing bucking horses or bulls, Carr has them at every rodeo.
â€śAnytime Pete Carr has a rodeo, you know the stockâ€™s going to be great,â€ť said rookie Sage Kimzey, the No. 1 bull rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. â€śHis bull string is one of the best in the business.â€ť
Whenever the Carr team rolls into town, itâ€™s a winning combination.
LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ A walk around the Lea County Fairgrounds in early August reveals many sights, sounds and smells.
Itâ€™s robust and inspiring, and the sounds of fair-goers resonates across the complex on Lovingtonâ€™s eastern edge. There are tasty treats and delicious meals; there are games and rides; and there are great acts that make up the daily entertainment schedule.
The Lea County Fair and Rodeo will feature daily entertainers from 5 p.m. to closing every night of the fair, from Aug. 1-9. This yearâ€™s lineup includes ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, the Equilibrium Circus and the Ham Bone Express Pig Races.
â€śWe talk to people in the community about what they want to see at the fair, and we try to stay with that,â€ť said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board.
Ham Bone Express is operated by the Borger family, and they bring their action and comedy show to Lovington from northwest Arkansas. Itâ€™s funny, fun to watch and fast-paced, and the Borgers claim to have â€śThe Swiftest Swine Off the Line.â€ť It has four races with four pigs in each race, and the master of ceremonies keeps the crowd involved by assigning cheering sections, with each section having a designated â€śrooter,â€ť or cheerleader.
â€śThe thing I love about that is that he changes it up every year,â€ť Helton said of Charlie Borger, the emcee who operates the show with his wife, Carol. â€śHeâ€™s part of the show with the pigs. The people love him, and I can see why. If you sit down with him and talk to him, thatâ€™s just the way he is; he just cracks you up.â€ť
The tandem presents the ancient circus art of hand-to-hand with quirky twists as they perform a number of tricks and stunts that may not be seen anywhere else. They also add a little heat to the equation in the form of fire.
The Equilibrium Circus features the award-winning duo, who show off their athletic talent and creativity. With more than 30 years of combined experience, they have appeared in film, television, theater, street performance and live events.
Johnson, who started ventriloquism at age 9, has a pretty good pedigree, too. He was self-taught, but he was drawn to entertaining quite naturally â€“ his grandfather, Harley Noles, performed magic shows throughout Colorado and offered a spot in his lineup should Johnson develop his act well enough.
When Johnson was 13, he opened for his grandfather, performing for five minutes with a wooden puppet that his grandfather made him. Since then, he has appeared on â€śThe Late Show with David Lettermanâ€ť and â€śAmericaâ€™s Got Talent.â€ť
â€śWe want to bring the acts to our fair and rodeo that the people of Lea County want to see,â€ť Helton said. â€śThatâ€™s been very successful for us.â€ť
HORSEMANSHIP CHALLENGE WILL FEATURE TOP TRAINERS WORKING WITH YOUNG HORSES
CENTENNIAL, Colo. â€“ There is something beautiful and majestic about a horse, from its raw power to its sheer beauty in movement.
Russell Beatty first witnessed it as a child, and thatâ€™s when his passion for horses began to stir. Itâ€™s merged into a lifelong love and a hunger to work with horses.
You see, Beatty has worked with and trained horses all his life, and now he has developed the Colt Starting Challenge USA, an event that features some of the brightest trainers in the country who work with untrained horses in a competition.
â€śThese are a competition between trainers,â€ť said Beatty, a native Texan now living in Hawaii. â€śEach trainer is matched with a horse on a random draw. The colts have not been started and have not ever been saddled or bridled. They have been unhandled most of the time.â€ť
The trainers will then work with the animals over the course of two two-hour sessions set up over two days, and judges will determine which of the trainers wins. The competitions will take place across the country, including an event scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds in Cortez.
â€śWe will have two hours of work the first day with a half-hour break in between,â€ť Beatty said. â€śThis is all done with an audience, and each contestant has a microphone so that when itâ€™s their time to talk, they can say what theyâ€™re doing and why theyâ€™re doing it.
â€śThe second day has two 45-minute sessions with a break in between. After the second session, we tear down the round pens, set up our obstacle course and the contestants ride their horse through the obstacle course. The winner gets a buckle.â€ť
The contestants love the idea.
â€śThe thing I like about it is that Russell cares about the people and the horses, and he just wants to make for a good competition,â€ť said Bob Mundy of Norco, Calif., who has competed in two events, including one victory. â€śHe wants to show people that there are different ways and different methods to colt-starting. It opens the publicâ€™s eye that if you do it in the correct manner, you can really start a colt in a short amount of time.â€ť
It also allows trainers to show their stuff and promote the work they do. Thatâ€™s a valuable tool, especially for horse owners that are looking for someone who can work with well with their animals.
â€śIn the first two days, the colt is able to learn new things really fast,â€ť said Victor Sundquist, 20, of Olathe, Colo., who has been training professionally for four years. â€śItâ€™s amazing what you can do in the first hour. Iâ€™ve actually been able to stand up on a horse in the first couple of hours.â€ť
Itâ€™s that type of progress that makes the Colt Starting Challenges a draw not only for competitors but also for horse-loving fans who come to see the trainers at work. They can take some of the lessons they learn inside the arena back home or consider utilizing one of the trainers with their animals. The shows are set up in a fan-friendly environment that makes each performance enlightening.
Itâ€™s a pretty good feature for Beatty, who began the idea on the islands a few years ago.
â€śI had guys calling me, and they were wanting us to do them over here,â€ť he said of the mainland. â€śThere is a calling for them, so we are putting them on over here. The contestants love them, and the crowd loves them. People are seeing how you can really work with the horses and see that the horses respond better to this type of training.â€ť
Beatty was raised near San Antonio in the community of Helotes, Texas. He competed in rodeo and attended college in Sheridan, Wyo., on a rodeo scholarship, where he studied ranch management. He continued to compete in rodeo â€“ riding bulls and saddle broncs and roping calves â€“ until he was 42.
If thereâ€™s something to be done on a horse, Beatty has done it. He now enjoys the theory of natural horsemanship in working with animals, which is how he developed the Colt Starting Challenge for competition.
â€śI first attended a colt starting challenge put on by a top rated horse clinician,â€ť he said. â€śI was intrigued and amazed by what I saw. The trainersâ€™ methods simplified and sped up the process of gentling a horse.â€ť
The theory is being put to work nationwide.
â€śI really enjoy it and think itâ€™s awesome,â€ť said Sundquist, who works with his father in training horses. â€śI got involved mostly because it was something new and something different. Partially itâ€™s for the advertising for me.â€ť
It has been a powerful tool for the competitors in their own promotion.
â€śFor anybody that does this, our goal is to promote how we go about it,â€ť Mundy said. â€śI like colt starting because I like being able to start horses and get them a good foundation. The first few days with a horse makes all the difference in a horse.
â€śThe people who come to these events can see the different methods coming together. They can see the different things going on. I really see the Colt Starting Challenge growing and making something positive. I think itâ€™s something thatâ€™s needed. What I really like about it is, in the competitions I did, everybody was really helpful. Weâ€™re there to support each other. We want everybody to succeed.â€ť
That is a key factor in what Beatty has developed. The challenges are a comradery-based system, because all the competitors are after the same goal; they just go about it in different ways. A major ingredient is natural horsemanship, which uses a horseâ€™s instincts and methods of communication. Horses donâ€™t learn through fear or pain; instead they learn from pressure and the release of pressure.
â€śWeâ€™re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but weâ€™re showing that there are other ways to do this,â€ť Beatty said, noting that there is a need for more young horses or colts that have been unhandled to be part of the Centennial event. â€śPeople are coming to it, and they really like it.â€ť
In fact, the growth has allowed Beatty to create a Colt Starting Challenge USA finals, which will take place during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Fan Fest in December in Las Vegas.
â€śIn order to make it to our finals, they will have to have competed in at least two of our events, and we will take the top eight,â€ť Beatty said. â€śWe will do it over three days, where the third day is all the contestants doing the obstacle course at the same time.â€ť
The finale also is an attractive enticement for trainers to be part of the challenges.
â€śI like the fact that heâ€™s already talking about having a finals,â€ť Sundquist said. â€śThis is a good sign that something big is about to happen.â€ť
Itâ€™s happening Aug. 1-2 in Cortez.