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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.