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Twisted Rodeo

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The words of Ted Harbin, winner of the 2010 PRCA Media Award for Excellence in Print Journalism
Updated: 26 min 39 sec ago

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

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

Scott Snedecor

Scott Snedecor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

O’Mara wins Dodge City Xtreme

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 23:44

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

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

Jacob O'Mara

Jacob O’Mara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls
Dodge City, Kan.
July 28
(EDITOR’S NOTE: the dollar figures were not accurate based the total money; once it is correct, I will add those figures to the story) 1. Jacob O’Mara, 86 points on 4L and Diamond S Rodeo’s Lil Warrior; 2. Shane Proctor, 85.5; 3. Dustin Bowen, 83.5; 4. (tie) Tyler Hessman, Brett Stall and Caleb Sanderson, 83; 7. Reid Barker, 82; 8. (tie) Guthrie Murray and Trevor Kastner, 81.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Winnsboro is ready for rodeo week

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 17:35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The legacy is still growing.

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

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

That’s just what fans want.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Rodeo a hot spot for top stars

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 15:56

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Elite riders ready for Xtreme Bulls

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 11:40
Sage Kimzey, the 2014 world champion bull rider, competes at a recent Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Kimzey utilized the Xtreme Bulls tour last season en route to becoming the first rookie in more than 50 years to win the bull riding gold buckle.

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Bingham

Tim Bingham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, it is.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Circuit champs ready for big week

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 15:21

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

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

Billie Saebens

Billie Saebens

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

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

Gretchen Benbenek

Gretchen Benbenek

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

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

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

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

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

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

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

It should be worth it for fans, too.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Champion scores 90 on Dirty Jacket

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 00:19
Richmond Champion and Pete Carr Pro Rodeo's Dirty Jacket match moves for the fifth-round victory at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals. The tandem matched Thursday night for the third time in less than a year and posted a 90-point ride Wednesday night in Eagle, Colo. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

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

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

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

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

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Daily shows provide variety to fair

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 11:07
Conjurer Robert Smith will be one of the featured daily entertainers at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington, N.M. (COURTESY PHOTO)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Roundup a key stop for rodeo’s best

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 10:39
Trevor Brazile, the most decorated cowboy in ProRodeo history with a record 21 world championships, typically competes in all of his disciplines at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He owns world titles in tie-down roping, heading, steer roping and the all-around. He is one of numerous gold buckle winners that compete annually at Roundup Rodeo.

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

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

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

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

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

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

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

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

Christine Laughlin

Christine Laughlin

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

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

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

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

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

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

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

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

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Work on local fair is a labor of love

Sun, 07/19/2015 - 16:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Elite cowboys crave Carr livestock

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 15:16

DALLAS – World-class cowboys crave the opportunities to be matched with world-class bucking animals.

They get that with the athletic buckers from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22-Saturday, July 25, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

Luke Creasy

Luke Creasy

“I think Pete’s just tried to fortify a herd of animals that a guy has a chance to win on,” said Luke Creasy, a top-10 bareback rider from Lovington, N.M. “With a lot of horses he has, you have a chance to be 90 on a horse any day of the week at his rodeo. That’s important when we’re rodeoing.”

Creasy knows. In June, the Alberta-born cowboy matched moves with Carr’s Night Bells for 90 points to split the victory in Weatherford, Texas, with Winn Ratliff, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who rodeo Dirty Jacket to share the title.

They are two of four bareback riders that have been marked at least 90 points in 2015, joining Jessy Davis and Ryan Gray. Davis, a six-time NFR qualifier, was 93 points on Dirty Jacket to win the Cinch Shootout in San Angelo, Texas, in January; Gray, an eight-time finalist, was 92 points to win in Pecos, Texas, in late June.

Winn Ratliff

Winn Ratliff

But those weren’t the only rides in the 90s on Carr animals so far this year. A trio of bull riders also hit that magic mark in June: Caleb Robinson rode Vegas and Cameron Bland rode Salty Dog for 90 points to share the victory in Weatherford, while Scottie Knapp scored 93 points on Half Nutz.

“When you go to Pete’s rodeos, you know you’re going to have a shot to win first,” said Ratliff, who also added victories at Carr events in Nacogdoches, Texas, and Crosby, Texas. “You have to do your part and ride good, but if you do your job, you’re going to have the opportunity to win the rodeo.”

Gray has two big victories on Carr animals this season. It’s one of the reasons he’s among the top 15 in the world standings with just weeks remaining in the 2015 campaign – only the top 15 at the end of the regular season qualify for the NFR. In addition to the Pecos victory, Gray followed that a week later with an 89-point ride on Carr’s Outa Sight to win in Window Rock, Ariz.

Ryan Gray

Ryan Gray

“I love going to Pete’s rodeos because he’s got great horses,” Gray said. “You want to have the opportunity to be a lot of points, and he’s got the horses that you can. I love going to his rodeos and having that opportunity every time.”

The Carr herd includes about 100 of the best bucking animals in the world. In both the 2013-14 seasons, 27 Carr animals were selected to perform at the NFR; that’s a record of animals coming from one contractor.

“I just think it’s a phenomenal herd, and you have a good opportunity to win any time when you draw the top animals,” Ratliff said, pointing great buckers like Dirty Jacket, Night Bells, Outa Sight, Half Nutz, Big Tex, Spur Strap, Good Time Charlie, Scarlet’s Web, Footloose and a host of other top animal athletes. “When you have your name next to theirs, it makes rodeoing a lot easier.”

That’s why Carr-produced rodeos are sought after by the game’s top cowboys.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Xtreme Bulls key for top cowboys

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 11:27

DODGE CITY, Kan. – In any sport, momentum can be the key between success and failure.

The pendulum can swing in either direction. When it’s heading in the positive direction, great things can happen.

Bull rider Tim Bingham felt that last summer in his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It all began at the Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls competition, where Bingham rode two bulls and earned the event title. He carried that momentum and found himself playing on the sport’s biggest stage in Las Vegas this past December.

Tim Bingham

Tim Bingham

“It set me off on the right foot,” said Bingham, 23, of Honeyville, Utah. “That was my first one for that little run as the week went on. It set me up to make a really good run in the end.”

He will try to defend that title during this year’s Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at Roundup Arena. He needs all the help he can get if he hopes to return to the NFR in a little more than four months, but he has a good idea of what can happen in a short amount of time.

Starting with Xtreme Bulls in Dodge City, Bingham placed that same week in Abilene, Kan., and Sidney, Iowa. A week later in Lovington, N.M., the Utah cowboy won both rounds and the overall championship at the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. In just eight days, he earned $18,293; more than $5,200 came in western Kansas.

“I drew two really good bulls, Centerfold and Swamp Dog,” he said of his Dodge City victory. “I knew as long as I stayed on, they’d do their part. I’ve never seen any one of those bulls have a bad trip.”

It worked out quite well. Bingham finished the regular season with more than $85,000 in earnings. He then added another $30,000 at the NFR to have his best season ever. He began the 2015 campaign with a bang by winning the rodeo in Billings, Mont., then suffered a severe injury at a bull riding in January.

“I broke my left leg and ankle, and I had to have a plate and five screws put in,” he said. “I broke my right foot in three spots. I also broke my right elbow and had to get a long rod in my elbow down to my forearm.”

But his cowboy mentality kept him on the sidelines for just four months. He returned in May in time to win the Helldorado Days Rodeo in Las Vegas.

“Things haven’t gone too hot since,” Bingham said. “Right off the bat, I thought it would be OK, but it’s been pretty slow.”

As of mid-July, Bingham sits outside the top 50 in the world standings. He’s a long ways from earning a spot at the NFR – only the top 15 contestants in each event at the end of the regular season qualify for the finale.

“I haven’t stressed about it one time, because I know how the last couple of months play the biggest role in rodeo,” he said. “I’m positive. I’m still visualizing making the NFR. There are plenty of bulls and time to get there. I’m still planning on getting there.”

Dodge City Xtreme Bulls features a night of strictly bull riding. The Roundup committee has done everything possible to ensure the top players in the game will be on hand for the competition by coming up with sponsorship dollars. That money, combined with the cowboys’ entry fees, will make up a hefty purse.

“We’ve been very pleased with Xtreme Bulls,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We want our fans to see the top bull riders rodeo, and they know they’re going to get that on Tuesday night.”

For the cowboys, Xtreme Bulls is a major part of each rodeo season.

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

“When it comes down to it, consistency lays a big roll. If a guy can get hot and stay hot, a lot of things can happen. If you can get on that roll, it can be easy for you. Nobody knows how it clicks and how it doesn’t. If a guy could figure out the difference, they’d win the world every time. It’s nice when it comes around, that’s for sure.”

Dodge City’s a good place to get that roll started.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Eagle is the picture of a wild rodeo

Thu, 07/16/2015 - 15:43
The action inside the Eagle County Fairgrounds is amazing, thanks in large part to the great animal athletes from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

The action inside the Eagle County Fairgrounds is amazing, thanks in large part to the great animal athletes from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

EAGLE, Colo. – The Eagle County Fairgrounds is the perfect setting for some of the most wild rodeo action ever seen in Colorado.

It’s home to the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22-Saturday, July 25, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains, it’s as picturesque as any event in ProRodeo and a regular showcase for the world’s greatest stars.

That’s thanks in large part to the local hospitality and the production and bucking stock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the longstanding stock contractor in Eagle.

“I believe what makes our rodeo special is the people in this community and the support they give us,” said Tanya Dahlseid, a key member of the Eagle County staff. “I also think Pete Carr and his staff have made it so amazing with the quality and level of the performances. We get compliments from all over about our rodeo.”

The Carr firm has been recognized as one of the very best in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, having been nominated as Stock Contractor of the Year each of the past two seasons. The cowboys like the Carr animal athletes so much, they’ve selected 27 to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, a record for animals from one stock contractor at ProRodeo’s grand finale.

“When I hear the name Pete Carr, I think of something spectacular and very professional,” Dahlseid said. “The whole group of Pete’s staff that comes is great; it’s an honor to have them here. I express that to a lot of people in the county.

“We’re very fortunate to have Pete Carr.”

A number of the top cowboys in the game agree. Six seasons ago, eight-time NFR qualifier Ryan Gray tied the world record with a 94-point ride on Carr’s Grass Dancer. A few weeks ago, Gray matched moves with reigning Bareback Horse of the Year Dirty Jacket for 92 points to win in Pecos, Texas; it was the highest marked ride so far in 2015.

But the mountain air makes for amazing feats. Four-time world champion Bobby Mote was 90 points to win the Eagle bareback riding title on Betty Boop. High scores seem to be the norm inside Johnette Phillips Arena.

“It’s pretty incredible to see these animals when they’re here,” Dahlseid said. “Pete has incredible horses and bulls, and his staff is pretty impressive and amazing, too. It brings a whole different level of professionalism to our event.”

This year’s rodeo will feature clown Brian Potter and Mustang Millionaire winner Bobby Kerr, whose work with wild mustangs has become a showcase of true horsemanship skills and the mindset of horses. Together, Potter and Kerr are a major piece of the entertainment package.

It all adds up to a great event for local fans and those who make their way to Eagle County as a summer vacation destination.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Carr team a big part of fair & rodeo

Thu, 07/16/2015 - 11:40
World champion bull rider Wesley Silcox watches the action as he prepares to ride at a recent Lea County Fair and Rodeo. Many of the top-named contestants find their way to Lovington, N.M., every August because of the top stock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

World champion bull rider Wesley Silcox watches the action as he prepares to ride at a recent Lea County Fair and Rodeo. Many of the top-named contestants find their way to Lovington, N.M., every August because of the top stock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Fans in Lea County know what it takes to make a good rodeo.

They’re used to seeing it every year at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8, at Jake McClure Arena. Throw in the Lea County Xtreme Bulls at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, and it’s five nights of world-class rodeo action.

The volunteer committee works hard to make sure fans see the greatest show possible, and that includes the production and animal athletes from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary livestock producer in Lovington.

Lea County Fair Logo“When we decided on the Xtreme Bulls, we did so while working with Pete Carr to make sure it was what our fans would expect and appreciate,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “Like any typical Pete Carr event, he goes above and beyond what he promises to deliver. He’s particular about the kind of show he puts on. He wants it to be the absolute best it can be. He’ll go wherever he needs to go to get the kind of stock he needs for our event.

“I don’t think other contractors take the personal interest in the event like Pete does … not only Pete but his personnel. They are very concerned that the committee is happy and they’re doing what we want them to do.”

The Carr firm includes many of the top animals in the game, including Dirty Jacket, the reigning Bareback Horse of the Year that has finished among the top three in voting each of the past three seasons. Over the past two years, 27 Carr animals have been selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale.

“Pete Carr has the bucking horses and bulls that are unreal,” said bareback rider Clint Cannon, a four-time NFR qualifier from Waller, Texas. “When I think about Pete Carr, I think about 90-point rides, rock ’n’ roll music and fans loving it.”

But there’s more to the rodeo than bucking stock. It takes a professional production to showcase an award-winning event like the Lea County Fair and Rodeo in a timely fashion so that fairgoers have the opportunity to enjoy other aspects of the exposition.

“We try to have the theatrical portion of our show not interfere with the competition side,” said John Gwatney, a production supervisor for the Dallas-based livestock firm. “We try to run a good, fast, clean performance without interfering with the competition.

“That’s where we’re different from other rodeo companies. If we’re not ready, the cowboy has to wait. When it comes time for that cowboy to compete, we’ve done everything we can to make that animal ready for that cowboy, so all he has to do is nod his head.”

When mixed with great contestants, a knowledgeable fan base in Lea County and a strong connection with the fair board and rodeo committee, it makes for an incredible experience for everyone involved.

“Pete Carr puts on a great rodeo,” said Sage Kimzey, the reigning world champion bull rider. “I’m thankful he loves the sport of rodeo so much and wants it to be so great.”

It shows in the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Branch excited for Lea County fair

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 12:10

LOVINGTON, N.M. – As fairgoers are making plans for the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, the staffs at the Tate Branch Auto Group dealerships in Hobbs, Carlsbad and Artesia are making plans themselves.

In addition to being the presenting sponsor for the annual exposition, the Tate Branch team has numerous plans scheduled during the nine-day fair, scheduled for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.

Lea County Fair Logo“We are having our second annual ‘All RAM No Bull’ off-site sale in Lovington that week,” said Joby Houghtaling, chief managing officer for the auto group. “On the last day of the fair and rodeo, we will have a major blowout with lots of prizes to be given away, including a Sea Doo boat as the grand prize at our off-site sale.”

The many pieces have all come together to mark the 80th anniversary of the fair and rodeo, which has been recognized as one of the largest expos in the region. Fairgoers from all across New Mexico and Texas may their way to Lovington every August to take in all the events, including top-named concerts, carnival, livestock shows, daily entertainers and one of the top rodeos in the country.

A big part of the event’s success is because of the community support from a variety of local sponsors, and Tate Branch Auto Group is the largest.

“I feel like I’m very, very blessed,” said Tate Branch, the auto group’s owner. “I feel like I’m in a position that God has blessed me, and this is one way I could give back.”

It’s because of the relationship between the dealerships and the fair that there is such a wide variety of activities that take place in Lea County that week.

In addition, the Tate Branch Auto Group also sponsors several levels of rodeo, including seven top cowboys: tie-down roping brothers Clif and Clint Cooper and their legendary father, Roy Cooper; steer roper Marty Jones; and team roping twins Jake and Jim Ross Cooper; and two-time world champion saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy.

“We’re going to have one of the area’s top radio station doing a morning show on site at our sale Tuesday-Friday of fair week, and we are going to try to have all the ‘Riding for the Brand’ cowboys at the morning shows. We plan to have them be available for autographs and pictures with the public.”

Those appearances are one aspect of reaching out and giving back to consumers that sets the Tate Branch Auto Group apart from most dealerships. Houghtaling, Branch and the rest of the staff realize that there is something special happening at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo and want everyone to enjoy all the festivities.

“We have always believed with the three dealerships that there is an importance to being involved in the community and giving back to the community,” said Branch, who, like Houghtaling, grew up in southeastern New Mexico. “We are very family oriented and community oriented.”

It rings true every August.

Tate Branch-logo

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Local rodeo is an award-winner

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 11:17
Bareback rider Bill Tutor adjusts his riggin' on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo's Dirty Jacket during the 2014 Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

Bareback rider Bill Tutor adjusts his riggin’ on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket during the 2014 Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – If Jake McClure Arena had a trophy case, it would be full of awards for this year’s Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

The annual event, now in its 80th year, is a two-time nominee for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year, having received those bids each of the past two years.

Lea County Fair Logo“To be mentioned in the same breath as Cheyenne (Wyo.) and Pendleton (Ore.) is an honor,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee that is part of the Lea County Fair Board. “For me, I realize how blessed I am to be part of a great event and to get to work with such a wonderful, hard-working group of volunteers.”

Nominations are based on voting by PRCA members, and only five events in each category are among the finalists. Since the award was created in 1993, only six rodeos have earned the title; of those, Cheyenne has won the award 16 times. Other finalists in 2014 were Ogden, Utah, and Salinas, Calif.

“To be nominated is an honor itself,” said Corey Helton, the fair board chairman. “When you look at the list of rodeos in our category, it says a lot about the work our rodeo committee has been doing.”

The volunteer committee is just one piece of an award-winning puzzle for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8. It takes amazing talent to make an event like this click off so well:

  • Andy Stewart, a six-time finalist for PRCA Announcer of the Year. Stewart is a fixture as the voice of Lovington’s rodeo.
  • Cody Sosebee, a four-time nominee for PRCA Clown of the Year and a two-time finalist for PRCA Comedy Act of the Year.
  • Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a two-time nominee for PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year and winner of the 2014 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Stock Contractor of the Year. Four of his horses – Real Deal, Big Tex, MGM Deuces Night and Dirty Jacket – have been named the PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year.

“We are fortunate to work with the best professionals in rodeo,” Massey said. “I’m surprised Andy hasn’t won Announcer of the Year yet. He does everything that we ask for and is excellent at it.”

It takes that kind of trust to produce such a top-flight event, but it also takes a dedicated group of volunteers to make it happen in Lea County. The committee works together all year to showcase the rodeo to a region that knows the sport well.

“We’ve all shared in the vision of what our rodeo in Lovington could be,” Massey said. “For our committee to do what we’ve done is because we’ve had great support. Stephanie Rice and the office personnel over the last several years have done such a wonderful job of taking care of the behind-the-scenes things that no one ever knew about to make it easy for us to focus on what we needed to do and not be concerned about all the other details.”

It’s an award-winning combination.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Johnson journeys toward Las Vegas

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 14:57

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the July 2015 issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is republished on this site with the approval of the WPRN.

Meghan Johnson has never really considered moving to Colorado, but competing in the Centennial State has been pretty nice.

“My mom always tells me I should claim the Mountain States Circuit,” said Johnson, a recent graduate from New Mexico State University.

Colorado has been pretty profitable for her already this year. She won the title at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in January, pocketing more than $12,000; she added more than $1,500 by winning the Elizabeth Stampede the first weekend in June.

More importantly, she and her mount, Nellie Laveaux, rounded the cloverleaf pattern in an arena-record time of 15.87 seconds, shattering the previous mark.

“I didn’t know anything about it until Randi Timmons told me after my run,” Johnson said of Timmons, a WPRA member from Elizabeth. “We got it by two-tenths this year, so that was pretty exciting.”

Johnson ran in slack on the morning of Sunday, June 7, when the arena was a tad bit muddy. Fortunately for her, Timmons knew the history and how the ground handled moisture better than most ladies in the field.

“Randi told me not to worry about it and that the ground was really good when it was wet,” said Johnson, of Deming, N.M. “We were 40th out in slack, but it seemed like the dirt was getting better as more girls were running on it.

“I just didn’t hold back.”

Neither did Nellie, a 14-year-old sorrel mare, who has proven to be solid in any kind of setup – from a small indoor pen like Denver Coliseum or a large outdoor arena like in Elizabeth.

“She doesn’t like it when it’s wet,” Johnson said. “The ground in Elizabeth was muddy, but there weren’t any puddles, so I worked out well for me to run her.”

As of the second week of June, she was eighth in the world standings with a little more than $37,000. She has parlayed some solid runs to earn big checks in San Angelo, Texas, and Tucson, Ariz., along with several other paydays. In fact, she also won in Silver City, N.M., and placed in Clovis, N.M., the opening weekend in June.

It’s all sort of a whirlwind for Johnson, who is just a few weeks removed from graduation ceremonies at New Mexico State in Las Cruses, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business. A two-time College National Finals Rodeo qualifier, she opted to spend the final semester of her senior year focusing on school and ProRodeo.

“My family has always been big on education,” she said. “I always took school seriously. I hustled for four years so I could be on the road. Plus it’s nice to have that fall-back option.”

Right now, though, she won’t need it. She and fellow barrel racer Ann Thompson have a tentative schedule in place and plan to make a run at Johnson’s first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“She’s entering for me, and she knows I don’t want to haul very much,” Johnson said. “I’ not going to be a crazy person out on the road. We’re going to try to pick the ones we think we can do good at and make them count.”

She’s done pretty well at that so far. By putting together a solid winter run, she has set herself up to chase Las Vegas through the rest of the regular season.

“I wasn’t really wanting to go this hard,” said Johnson, who credits Hi Pro Feeds, Biocare Animal Products, Arizona Oxy-Gen and Juli Miller Wade Saddle Pads for helping her get up and down the rodeo trail. “My goal was to be in the top 30. Winning Denver got the ball rolling down the hill faster. It got a lot of people excited among my family and friends, and they’re pushing us to go for it. It opened a lot of doors.

“It also put a lot of confidence in me and my horse that we can do it against all these tough girls.”

The way barrel racing is now, there are tough girls and great horses all across the map. Now that she’s in the top 10, Johnson wants to stay there. That means stretching her comfort zone and reaching out to new places and new venues. The goal, though, is worth it.

Of course, it helps to have confidence in oneself and in the teammate that seems to make things happen. That’s the case for Johnson and Nellie.

“She’s handled everything really good so far, and we’re taking a lot of care into her,” she said. “We’re trying to fit in as many breaks into the schedule as we can. With her, it’s kind of a crucial thing. I’m getting good on my schedule so she can rest as much as she can.

“If I can stay out of her way, she runs a good pattern.”

They’re both pretty good at what they do. They wouldn’t be in this position without it. They might just have the swagger of a champion; at least Nellie does.

“This year, she’s become more of a diva,” Johnson said. “She’s become a little ornery. She used to be just really sweet. I think they know when they’re doing good.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Concerts key to fair’s success

Thu, 07/09/2015 - 10:55
Gregg Allman will be one of the featured acts during the Lea County Fair and Rodeo's concert series during the annual exposition, set for July 31-Aug. 8 in Lovington, N.M.

Gregg Allman will be one of the featured acts during the Lea County Fair and Rodeo’s concert series during the annual exposition, set for July 31-Aug. 8 in Lovington, N.M.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – From rising stars to an “American Idol” to a Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee, the 2015 Lea County Fair and Rodeo will have the perfect mix for fairgoers.

“I think our lineup is exciting and is holding to the standards that we’ve developed over the past few years,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board.

Helton and the rest of the folks in southeastern New Mexico should be excited. Not only does the exposition feature a top-rated carnival, a world-class rodeo and amazing local fixtures, the fair also has six amazing acts set to perform through its nine nights at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington:

Lea County Fair LogoSaturday, Aug. 1: Richochet
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Cody Johnson
Wednesday, Aug 5: Crowder
Thursday, Aug. 6: Dan + Shay
Friday, Aug. 7: Scotty McCreery
Saturday, Aug. 8:
Gregg Allman

“I think they’ll all be great shows,” Helton said.

Richochet kicks off the fair with a special show on the opening Saturday night. The country band has been around for nearly two decades and still boasts of being the only country artist to chart the national anthem. Richochet’s first No. 1 hit, “Daddy’s Money,” showcases the band’s harmonies that they’ve carried with them since the beginning.

After the Lea County Xtreme Bulls on Tuesday, the fair will celebrate Texas Country music with chart-topper Cody Johnson. He will provide a spark to the week filled with great entertainment.

“I like the crowd to sing along, yell or whatever makes them feel part of the show,” Johnson said on his website. “I love big crowds because of the energy and showmanship I can exhibit.”

That likely will be the case at the fair in Lovington, which has seen significant crowds over the last several years. A big reason for that is the economical admission price; for just $8 ($6 for children), anyone can enjoy all the festivities on the fairgrounds.

“You pay one price for the day, and you get to enjoy it all: the shows, the exhibits, the daily entertainers, the rodeo, the concerts and have the opportunity to take in all the carnival rides,” Helton said. “There’s a lot to our fair, and I think that makes it attractive.”

Crowder will be the featured piece for Christian music night. Raised in east Texas, David Crowder has loved to share his faith through music.

Country artists Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney first met in December 2012. Within a year, the duo had released its first single, “19 You + Me.” They have been nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year in the Academy of Country Music Awards.

“Country music fans are extremely passionate and loyal,” Smyers said in an interview with SheKnows.com. “We are extremely thankful for the support the country community has shown for us and can’t wait to share more of the journey with them.”

McCreery won Season 10 of “American Idol” when he was 17 years old. Since then, he has sold more than 2.5 million albums. Two singles from his inaugural album, “I Love you This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls,” have been certified platinum.

Allman was one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band and also has had an amazing solo career. In addition to singing and playing for the band, he also wrote many of their hits, including “Dreams,” “Whipping Post,” “Please Call Home,” “Melissa” and “Midnight Rider.”

“We seem to always bring some of the big names on the final Saturday night,” Helton said. “We always want to end our fair and rodeo with a bang, and I think we’re doing that this year.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Locals make Roundup a big deal

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 11:55
Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the Roundup Committee, leads a group of dedicated volunteers who work every year to produce one of the top 25 events in the country.

Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the Roundup Committee, leads a group of dedicated volunteers who work every year to produce one of the top 25 events in the country.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – While it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community and more to put on the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.

“There’s no possible way this event goes on without the number of volunteers and the great support we get from this community,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event. “Much of everything that happens with our rodeo is because of the volunteers who devote their time and energy to its success.”

They’re all working for a spectacular week of rodeo starting with an evening of Xtreme Bulls on Tuesday, July 28, and five performances of Roundup from Wednesday, July 29-Sunday, Aug. 2; all performances begin at 7:45 p.m. at Roundup Arena.

The work by the volunteers is a key reason why Dodge City’s rodeo was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2012. In fact, only office manager Elaine Gall and a handful of ticket-window staff members are the only paid employees.

All the rest of the work that goes into making Roundup a successful venture is done community members who hold full-time jobs and who devote their spare time.

“We work year-round,” Trotter said. “From working with our dedicated sponsors to getting the arena set up, it takes a lot of man-hours every year to set everything up so the fans can experience our rodeo.

“Roundup was established years ago as a community event, and it takes place during Dodge City Days. We get fans from all over the state and from all over the country who come to our rodeo ever year, and we want them to have a great experience year after year.”

From the ticket-takers at the front game to the person who sold the hamburgers at the concessions stand, virtually every ounce of labor is one of love by people who care about Roundup.

“If you buy a Pepsi or a beer, a volunteer has served you,” he said. “All the behind-the-scenes things that happen are done primarily by people who donate their time.

“When it comes to our rodeo, we have the top professional cowboys and cowgirls in the world who come to Dodge City. I credit the people of this community who make it happen.”

That includes the local businesses that support the event financially. In rodeo, cowboys and cowgirls compete in order to make a living. In addition to paying bills, dollars earned also count as championship points – the contestants in each event who earn the most money at season’s end are crowned world champions.

Roundup offers local incentives of more than $160,000. That, combined with contestants’ entry fees, makes up one of the largest purses in ProRodeo; through the years, it has remained one of the top 25 events in the country.

“We get support from more than 100 businesses, nearly all of which are local,” Gall said. “I think it says a lot about how those businesses understand the type of event our rodeo is to this community. We’re very blessed by the local support we get.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Sosebee taking funny to Lovington

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 09:46
 Springdale, Ark.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Dodge City, Kan.; and Lovington, N.M. He returns to Lovington to work this year's Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

Rodeo clown Cody Sosebee interacts with fans during a recent rodeo in Guymon, Okla. This month features a busy part of his schedule, moving from one large rodeo to another: Springdale, Ark.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Dodge City, Kan.; and Lovington, N.M. He returns to Lovington to work this year’s Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Much has changed around the Lea County Fair and Rodeo since the last time Cody Sosebee was the entertainer inside Jake McClure Arena.

“The Lovington rodeo has a lot of chrome on it now and is really bright and shiney,” said Sosebee, who will be the rodeo clown and entertainer during the five nights of rodeo action, beginning with the Lea County Xtreme Bulls on Tuesday, Aug. 4, and continuing through the full rodeo performances from Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s a lot different now than it was then. The rodeo has finally been recognized as one of the best, and they have Xtreme Bulls and Pete Carr’s bucking stock. It’s really a special rodeo.”

That it is. The Lea County rodeo has been nominated as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year each of the past two seasons. That’s quite an honor for an event that’s in the same class as the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days and the Pendleton (Ore.) Roundup.

“That’s a super good committee, and you can tell they’ve worked their butts off to make a good rodeo even better,” he said. “When they came to tell me they were excited to have me coming back, it really was a great thing for me. I love that rodeo.”

The rodeo committee isn’t the only entity that’s been honored with nominations and awards. Sosebee is a five-time nominee for PRCA Clown of the Year and a two-time finalist for Comedy Act of the Year. He will be a big part of the action that is orchestrated by Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary livestock producer that’s been nominated for Stock Contractor of the Year in 2013-14.

“You get to work with an A team of personnel and an A team list of stock,” he said. “Anytime you get to work with people who excel in their field, it only makes me that much better.”

In addition to his clowning nomination, the former competitor also has been nominated for the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year two of the past three seasons. But there’s much more to Sosebee than meets the eye. Over his lifetime, he’s competed in nearly every rodeo event possible and was at the top of his game in bareback riding.

It’s part of the life growing up in a family that was heavily involved in rodeo. His father was a pickup man, so Sosebee has been part of the sport as long as he can remember.

“I got into clowning by accident by filling in for guys,” said Sosebee, who also owns a barbecue restaurant in his hometown of Charleston, Ark., just 25 miles east of Fort Smith, Ark. “I didn’t know where I was going to go with my rodeo career when I quit riding barebacks, and it turned into a good living. I get to see the world.

“I live in a community with one four-way stop, and I get to go to a lot of great places where as soon as you pull into town, you are considered a rock star for a week.”

A born competitor, the clown has made the adjustments he needed to get the true fix after a lifetime of being part of the contest.

“I’ve always been a competitor in anything I did, from football to basketball to when I was in freestyle bullfighting,” he said. “I miss putting my hand in the riggin’ and nodding my head to be 80 points to win the rodeo, but I’m a realist. I’m 43 years old. While most of the guys I rodeoed with have slowed down and have found jobs, I get to be in the arena and get to make a living in rodeo doing something I love.”

Sosebee also plays to his strengths. Bigger than many in the game, he showcases a true athleticism that is rarely seen among men of his stature. It’s comedy at the purest level.

“Having the ability to laugh at myself is probably my biggest strength,” he said. “I don’t take anything too serious. When I’m watching a comedian, the funniest thing I see is when they’re honestly open and having a good time. I want the fans to see that I’m a real person and I’m having fun, and they can have fun with me.”

That’s why Sosebee has excelled as one of the premier rodeo clowns in the game. That’s why the volunteer committee is bringing him to town. It’s another key reason the Lea County Fair and Rodeo is always at the top of the game.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

 

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