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WINNSBORO, La. â€“ There is something special in this community that comes to town every summer.
Itâ€™s the Deep South PRCA Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, July 30-Saturday, Aug. 1, at Deep South Rodeo Arena in Winnsboro. Itâ€™s a busy week for local organizers, and itâ€™s a big week for the staff of Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeo, which will produce event.
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
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.
â€śWhen you go to Peteâ€™s rodeos, you know youâ€™re going to have a shot to win first,â€ť 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. â€śYou have to do your part and ride good, but if you do your job, youâ€™re going to have the opportunity to win the rodeo.â€ť
Thatâ€™s often the case, no matter where the Carr animals perform.
â€śPete Carr is one of the premier stock contractors in the world,â€ť said saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La. â€śPete taking it another step further is amazing to me. Itâ€™s just going to make it better for everybody.â€ť
DeMoss is the reigning champion at the Deep South Rodeo, so he knows as well as anyone. A year ago, he matched moves with Carrâ€™s Night Train for 88 points to win the Winnsboro title.
â€śPete 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,â€ť DeMoss said. â€śItâ€™s a riding contest instead of a drawing contest, and thatâ€™s what Peteâ€™s got in his mind to do. Iâ€™m behind him all the way.â€ť
That bodes well for those who have plans to take in the annual rodeo.
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€ť
The legacy is still growing.
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 six 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
Thatâ€™s just what fans want.
LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ 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 yearâ€™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.
â€śThere are fans that donâ€™t get to see rodeo outside Lovington, but weâ€™re trying to put together a rodeo theyâ€™d want to see anywhere,â€ť said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. â€śWe strive to put together a National Finals Rodeo experience for them right here at home. I think weâ€™ve been able to do that.â€ť
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.
â€śPete Carrâ€™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,â€ť Massey said. â€śI think thereâ€™s a friendliness to the event with what we do for the contestants.
â€śWe 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.â€ť
Barrel racers and roughstock cowboys â€“ those who ride bucking horses and bulls â€“ 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.
â€śIn talking to the cowboys during the NFR, the one thing I hear across the board is they like the atmosphere here in Lea County,â€ť said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. â€śThey feel like we do everything we can to accommodate them. Thatâ€™s got to be one common denominator for our rodeo.â€ť
Hundreds of ProRodeoâ€™s greatest stars make their way to Lea County every August for a lot of reasons. The fans reap the rewards.