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The words of Ted Harbin, winner of the 2010 PRCA Media Award for Excellence in Print Journalism
Updated: 46 min 13 sec ago

Muncy is New Mexico proud

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 12:44pm
Two-time world champion Taos Muncy rides Pete Carr's Gold Coast during the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The New Mexico cowboy is a vital part of the Tate Branch Auto Group "Riding for the Brand" team and carries his strong New Mexico ties with him around the rodeo circuit. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY MIKE COPEMAN)

Two-time world champion Taos Muncy rides Pete Carr’s Gold Coast during the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The New Mexico cowboy is a vital part of the Tate Branch Auto Group “Riding for the Brand” team and carries his strong New Mexico ties with him around the rodeo circuit. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY MIKE COPEMAN)

For Taos Muncy, the comforts of his New Mexico home are hard to pass up.

Born, raised and still residing near Corona southeast of Albuquerque, Muncy is a ProRodeo cowboy who makes his living on the rodeo trail.

He’s a two-time world champion saddle bronc rider who has qualified seven times for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo over the last eight years – the only year he missed the finale in Las Vegas was because of an injury in 2008. Traveling the country in search of rodeo gold is his dream job, but being on the family ranch for an extended time is, too.

“Time goes too fast, so you’ve got to enjoy your family as much as possible,” said Muncy, who lives on the ranch with his wife, Marissa, and their daughter, Marley, 3, not far from his parents, Blaine and Johnnie. “My family’s pretty tight. That’s the one good thing about rodeoing; I might be gone for 10 days tops, but when I’m home, I’m with them.

“In rodeo, we’re all one big family. It’s a great lifestyle.”

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

Muncy also is part of another team, “Riding for the Brand” of Tate Branch Auto Group, which has dealerships in Carlsbad, Artesia and Hobbs. It’s a great New Mexico bond, which also includes other ProRodeo greats: eight-time world champion tie-down roper Roy “Super Looper” Cooper and two of his sons, Clif and Clint; team ropers Jake and Jim Ross Cooper; and steer roper Marty Jones – all have ties to New Mexico.

“Tate is a big New Mexico rodeo fan, and that’s really neat,” Muncy said. “It’s an awesome team to be part of.”

He is “Riding for the Brand” proudly. As the No. 4 bronc rider in the world standings, he’s off to a hot start to the 2015 season. His goal, as always, is to win his third world championship. In order to do that, though, he needs to finish the regular season among the top 15 to secure his eighth NFR qualification.

In Las Vegas, though, cowboys and cowgirls will battle for an unprecedented purse, with more than $26,000 paying out to go-round winners all 10 nights.

“The season’s going pretty danged good,” said Muncy, who has earned more than $30,000 so far this season. “I haven’t set the world on fire, but it seems like I’ve been real consistent. I’ve been placing and winning checks. As long as I’m making money, I’m happy.”

Money is vital. In addition to paying bills and covering rodeo expenses, money also equals championship points. The contestants in each event who earn the most money at season’s end are crowned world champions.

“I’m tickled,” he said. “My goal every year is to win the world (title), but if I stay in the top five all year, I’m really happy. I’d like a fighting chance when I get to the finals.”

That’s the benefit of having great sponsorship agreements. In his association with Tate Branch Auto Group, Muncy has more than a relationship with a New Mexico business. He has a true partnership and, like anyone who uses the southeastern New Mexico auto group, can take advantage of all the incentives available.

“Taos is a great champion and a great representative for New Mexico, and we’re excited to have him among our ‘Riding for the Brand’ team,” said Joby Houghtaling, the director of operations of the Tate Branch Auto Group. “He can utilize Warranty Forever, a Tate Branch Auto Group exclusive warranty that covers the drive train of any vehicle purchased at one of our dealerships that has less than 75,000 miles.

“We are happy to be involved in rodeo, and we offer discounts to members of all the rodeo associations, whether they’re in the PRCA, the WPRA, college or whatever. We’re committed to rodeo and the cowboys and cowgirls in the sport.”

That works great for any rodeo contestant, like Muncy. He’s spending time at home taking care of duties on the ranch that must be done. He returns to action Friday, May 1, at his ol’ college stomping grounds in Guymon, Okla. He attended Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, just 10 miles from the Guymon rodeo arena.

In fact, he claimed the 2007 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association saddle bronc riding championship while part of the Panhandle State rodeo team. Later that year, he won his first PRCA world championship, becoming just the third cowboy in the history of the game to win a college title and the gold buckle in the same discipline in the same season, joining bull rider Matt Austin and all-around cowboy Ty Murray.

“Guymon is pretty much a hometown rodeo for me, because Corona doesn’t have a ProRodeo and the closest ProRodeo to my hometown is two hours away,” Muncy said. “I still get nervous when I ride there, because I know they’re all watching me … all those great cowboys I looked up to and wanted to be like.”

The Oklahoma Panhandle has a grand history in the game, with 12 world championships earned by cowboys who have ties to the region once known as “No Man’s Land.”

“All those guys helped me quite a bit,” he said. “I could ride broncs, but I wasn’t good enough to do it at this level until I got there and worked with those guys.”

When he’s done with the Guymon rodeo, he’ll return to Corona and handle the tasks around the ranch before committing to the big summer run. Now 27 years old, he understands the importance of taking care of business every time he prepares to ride.

“I don’t do a lot of extra stuff to stay in shape, but I try to stay active,” Muncy said. “I stay plenty active when I’m around the place, because I’m usually running around here pretty good. If there’s stuff on my riding that I need to work on, I’ll dang sure get on my spur board or get on practice horses to keep tuned up.

“When we get to the summer run, especially over the Fourth of July, it helps me a lot when you’re getting on broncs every day. That’s when you feel the best. When you’re riding broncs, you’re using muscles you don’t ever use any other time.”

It all adds up to him living a lifetime of dreams.

“I’ve wanted to be a cowboy as long as I can remember, since I was probably 2 or 3,” he said. “I figured out you could ride animals and get paid. I always thought it would be cool to get on broncs or bulls or calves or sheep. I played football and basketball and other stuff, but all I’ve ever wanted to do was be a cowboy.”

He’s pretty good at it.

Tate Branch-logo

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Rodeo strives to be one of the best

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 10:54am

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – This community is tucked in north Texas is less than an hour’s drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

It’s home to about 6,100 people and one of the fastest growing events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Hundreds of the greatest cowboys and cowgirls make their way to this small Wise County city each May for the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

ButterfieldStageDaysRodeo-LOGO“Our rodeo is special because we get more than 450 cowboys and cowgirls from all over the world who attend our rodeo,” said Susan Miller, an eight-year member of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We get world champions and National Finals Rodeo qualifiers that are part of our show, and they come back every single year.”

That’s a tremendous benefit to the Bridgeport community. Contestants, their families and fans will flock to town for the two-day rodeo, eating at local restaurants, staying in hotels and utilizing fuel stops. In addition, it allows for an easy commute for a few elite cowboys and cowgirls.

“It’s good for our local rodeo contestants, too,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the rodeo committee, referring to numerous NFR qualifiers that live in Wise County, including three-time and reigning world champion tie-down roper Tuf Cooper; his father, eight-time titlist Roy Cooper; and Trevor Brazile, the 21-time gold buckle winner.

“Trevor is just 20 minutes from his house. Besides that, we’re getting a lot of the other big-name contestants. It’s fun for the community to see that, too.”

It’s just one ingredient that makes the perfect stew for the local rodeo. There are many, including a work force of volunteers that strive to make each performance the best it can be.

“We work all year long,” Miller said. “I believe the rodeo gets better every year. We are super proud of the rodeo, but we always know there is room for improvement. Each year after the rodeo ends, we have a meeting to discuss what we could do to make it better.

“That is our goal.”

It’s showing. The Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo is a hot commodity, both for contestants and fans. From an amazing competition to a true family friendly entertainment package, there has been plenty of talk about the Bridgeport rodeo.

“I believe it will be the most talked-about, successful PRCA rodeo for our size of community,” Miller said. “I believe that one weekend per year will continue to be scheduled in many date books across the nation.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Franks named Clarendon College coach

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 5:16pm

CLARENDON, Texas – Bret Franks is a cowboy.

For the past two years, the Guymon, Okla.-born man has served as the Livestock and Equine Center director and ranch horse coach at Clarendon College, a community college in the Donley County seat. Now he’s adding rodeo coach to his list of duties, recently hired to take over the 30-year-old program.

“I feel like the Good Lord led me here,” said Franks, a graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell and a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in saddle bronc riding. “When the rodeo coaching job came up, it was the perfect fit. It was almost like it was meant to be.”

Bret Franks

Bret Franks

He was raised two and a half hours north in the Oklahoma Panhandle in an agriculture family. He participated in ag-based programs and attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M on a livestock judging scholarship. He transferred to Panhandle State on a rodeo scholarship and won the Central Plains Region bronc riding championship while there.

He began a 10-year career in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1993, qualifying for the NFR as one of the top 15 bronc riders in world standings in 1997, ’98 and 2000. He won the Prairie Circuit saddle bronc riding title twice and was the 2002 National Circuit Finals Rodeo champion.

From 1995-99, Franks served as rodeo coach at his alma mater, guiding the men’s team to the national championship in 1997 and 1998. He did that while also juggling a prolific rodeo career.

“I think the biggest thing I can bring to the kids on the rodeo team is my ability to coach the mental aspect of the game,” said Franks, who lives in Clarendon with his wife, Darla, and their sons, Clint and Cole. “With my 20/20 vision of the past, I can look at the mistakes and struggles I had in the sport, and I can help them deter those problems and challenges before they ever get there.

“I can help them mentally prepare to win.”

Though he slowed down his rodeo career considerably after the 2002 season, he always was close to the game. He was the livestock supervisor and rodeo coordinator for Carr Pro Rodeo from 2005-09, then took a job as assistant manager at Cattlemen’s II Feedlot in Hedley, Texas, just a short drive from his Clarendon home. He worked there for four years until the business closed, then began his duties at Clarendon College.

The institution is the first Texas junior college to have a ranch horse team, which promotes the college and agriculture in ranches and stock horse events. As the Livestock and Equine Center director, he is in charge of all events at the facility, including ropings, barrel racing competitions, bull ridings, clinics and practices, just to name a few. Now he’ll add to that list.

“It’s a big undertaking and a huge responsibility, but I’m really looking forward to everything,” he said

Bret Franks has a powerful career of rodeo experiences to use in order to help teach the young rodeo stars at Clarendon College.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Guymon rodeo to be inducted into hall

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 11:27am
Crowds pack Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena for the annual Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, which will be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame this summer.

Crowds pack Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena for the annual Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, which will be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame this summer.

GUYMON, Okla. – Oklahoma’s richest rodeo in Guymon has long been considered one of the best by the cowboys and cowgirls who play the game.

The rodeo world has taken notice.

The Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo will be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame during a special ceremony Aug. 8 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The honor is recognition for the work by the local volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo.

Ken Stonecipher

Ken Stonecipher

“This is a huge honor for Guymon, for Texas County and for all the people that have put in so much hard work over the years,” said Ken Stonecipher, the production coordinator for the rodeo and a longtime member of the committee. “I got the call (Thursday) telling me we were going to be inducted, and I couldn’t believe the timing.”

Rodeo action will begin Monday morning and last seven straight days, culminating in the four performances set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“Being inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame is an incredible honor for us,” said Jim Quimby, the committee chairman, noting that the committee is part of the Guymon Chamber of Commerce. “We are very proud of our rodeo. We have a core group of people who work all year to put this on, but this is a community event. We wouldn’t have the kind of rodeo we have without our community.”

That community includes all of Texas County and most of the Oklahoma Panhandle. The rugged terrain is home to some of the greatest cowboys in the history of the sport, many of whom still make their homes on the soil not far from the storied arena. It’s the perfect place to test a cowboy’s mettle and talents.

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

Texas County also is home to Oklahoma Panhandle State University, which has a strong rodeo tradition. In fact, a number Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champions have ties to the area, including team roping heeler Jhett Johnson and saddle bronc riders Billy Etbauer, Robert Etbauer, Tom Reeves, Jeffrey Willert and Taos Muncy; together they own 12 gold buckles.

“We call OPSU Bronc Riding U. because there are so many great bronc riders who went to school there,” Stonecipher said. “The reality is there just a lot of great cowboys who have gone to school in Goodwell, but there are a lot of outstanding cowboys and cowgirls who grew up around here, too.”

Each year, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo features a who’s who of top contestants with ties to the Oklahoma Panhandle. This past December, two of those returned home with the reserve world championships: saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer, a two-time runner-up to the world champion, and Joe Frost, a senior at Panhandle State who is riding this weekend at the Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo, the final event of the 2014-15 regular season.

They all return to Guymon for Pioneer Days Rodeo. This year’s event features more than 950 entries, which bodes quite well for a rodeo of this stature. Not many other professional rodeos have a contestant field that large.

Pete Carr

Pete Carr

“We pride ourselves in being a rodeo for the cowboys,” Quimby said. “We want to have the best hospitality, and we want them to know they’re welcome here. It all comes back to be a huge benefit on our community.”

The induction also says a lot about the labor produced by the hard-working committee.

“Everyone looks forward to coming to Guymon for Pioneer Days every spring, and it’s an honor for our company to be a part of that event,” said Pete Carr, owner of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, one of the top five livestock firms in the PRCA each of the past two years. “Guymon’s rodeo and its surrounding communities have some of the richest history of any place that we have the privilege of working with.

“The fans there are some of the most knowledgeable in the rodeo industry, and they have come to expect an NFR-caliber show during each and every performance.”

So have the cowboys. In August, the rest of the rodeo world will know, too.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

County is Home of World Champs

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 12:37pm

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – Wise County, Texas, is quickly becoming the Home of World Champions.

In this 932-square-mile pocket of north Texas are 32 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association gold buckles. This beautiful landscape is quickly turning into rodeo central and has become the perfect home for ProRodeo’s elite.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

That’s an awfully effective drawing card for the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

This is the hometown rodeo for the greatest names in the game.

Take Trevor Brazile, the reigning all-around champion in Bridgeport. In 2014, he moved his gold buckle earnings to 21, adding his record 12th all-around world title and fifth steer roping championship. He is expected to return for this year’s competition, as are members of his family and his extended family.

Enter Tuf Cooper, Brazile’s brother-in-law – Cooper’s sister, Shada, also competes and qualified for the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in barrel racing. Cooper earned his third tie-down roping crown in four seasons last year. He is the youngest of three sons to Roy Cooper; the “Super Looper” is an eight-time world champ that also lives in Wise County.

Tuf Cooper

Tuf Cooper

In all, this expansive community of 61,000 residents boasts of 103 NFR qualifications, led, of course, by Brazile. Between the NFR and the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, he has 45 qualifications. He is followed by Roy Cooper’s 32, then a tie between Tuf Cooper and steer wrestler K.C. Jones with eight.

The oldest Cooper son, Clint, is a five-time qualifier in tie-down roping, and middle son, Clif, is a four-time qualifier.

“I think getting those big-name contestants is big for our rodeo,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the volunteer rodeo committee that produces the rodeo. “We’ve got some of the greatest cowboys in the world that are just 20 minutes from our arena. It’s fun for our community to see that.”

This is the perfect place to watch talent blossom. It’s one of the reasons members of the Bridgeport community volunteer their time to produce a world-class rodeo in Wise County.

“We want to put on the best rodeo possible, for the fans, for the contestants and for the sponsors,” Turnbow said. “This is truly a community event, and we’re building it for our community.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Rangers women wear region crown

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 3:24pm

ALVA, Okla. – It’s been a long time coming for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team.

For the first time in seven years, the Rangers have won the Central Plains Region’s women’s team title, clinching the championship this past weekend by winning the Fort Hays (Kan.) State University rodeo.

Through nine of 10 events – the final rodeo of the 2014-15 season will be this coming weekend at Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo in Guymon, Okla. – the Northwestern women have won five titles.

Stockton Graves

Stockton Graves

“I’m very proud of our women’s team this year,” said Stockton Graves, the Rangers rodeo coach. “We set our goal at the first of the year to win the region, and we’ve accomplished that. We have one more rodeo this season, and we’d like to close that one out with a win.”

That’s highly possible. Northwestern is 849 points ahead of the second-place team, rival Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and nearly 1,100 better than No. 3 Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Winning at least half the events in a 10-rodeo season is a major statement.

“Our team has really worked together, and we try to build each other up,” said Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D., who won goat tying in Hays to clinch the region title. “I’m pretty sure we all had that (team title) on our mind.”

Shayna Miller

Shayna Miller

In Hays, Miller won the first round with a 7.7-second run, then finished second in the final round to win the title with a two-run cumulative time of 15.9 seconds – half a second faster than the field, which included three other Rangers: Lauren Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz.; Elli Price of Leady, Okla.; and Tearnee Nelson of Faith, S.D. Barnes finished tied for third, while Price was sixth.

For the third time this season, Miller led the way for the Rangers.

“She’s had a huge impact on our women’s team,” Graves said of Miller. “She’s scored over 1,000 points in goat-tying. She’s a real hard worker and gives those girls something to look up to. She’s had a big influence on our team.”

That makes a difference, especially on a team that has seen some success in recent years. The last two seasons, the Northwestern women also qualified as a team to the College National Finals Rodeo by finishing second in the region.

“Even though I’m leading it, Karley (Kile) and Lauren have put a lot of points in there,” Miller said. “We wouldn’t be winning the region if it wasn’t for all of us together.”

That’s a great building block for the team’s future. Any time a group sees success, it helps each individual in the group see how the work pays off.

“It gives them some sort of pride and gives us something to look forward to and proves that we can do it,” Graves said. “They take pride in being one of the top two teams in the region and hopefully one of the top two teams in the nation.”

Other short-round qualifiers for the women were breakaway roper Samantha McGuire of Backus, Minn. and barrel racer Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla. The Northwestern men were led by Laine Herl of Goodland, Kan., who placed in both heading and steer wrestling.

Herl won the short round in steer wrestling with a 5.4-second run and finished second in the two-run aggregate. He and heeler Chase Lako of Hunter, N.D., finished third in team roping. Another two-event star, Tyler Batie of Black Hawk, S.D., placed fifth in bulldogging and team roping, competing with heading teammate Edgar Fierro of Kingfisher, Okla. Another steer wrestler, Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah, finished sixth.

The top Ranger in team roping was header Dalton Richards of Hawkinsville, Ga., who placed second with heeler Ben Whiddon of Southeastern. They finished in a tie for second place in the first round with Herl/Lako, then posted an 11.8-second run to finish second in the short round. Richards sits second in the region heading into the final event of the season.

“I’ve been this close before, so I’m not really trying to think about it too much,” said Richards, who will, “just keep roping my game and see how it goes.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Rodeo queen among elite in Guymon

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:10am

GUYMON, Okla. – Lauren Heaton is quite proud to represent the state of Oklahoma as she travels the rodeo circuit in 2015.

Lauren Heaton

Lauren Heaton

She is the first Miss Rodeo Oklahoma to win the Miss Rodeo America title, and she will be in the Oklahoma Panhandle for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“I was raised in Oklahoma rodeo,” said Heaton, a 2013 Oklahoma State University graduate from Alva, Okla. “It gave me so much. It created so much of who I am today. I want to take so much of what Oklahomans are. There’s such a spirit to Oklahomans.

“I really hope to take that across the country and showcase that to the rest of the rodeo industry.”

Heaton was crowned last December during the pageant that took place in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. She’s spent the last five months as the sport’s primary ambassador.

Now she’s adding a home state rodeo to her list of events this season.

“We’re very excited to have Lauren coming back to Guymon this year,” said Becky Robinson, a longtime member of the Pioneer Days Rodeo committee. “It was important to us to have the first Oklahoman Miss Rodeo America in Guymon.”

Heaton is one of many rodeo queens who will be part of the festivities. It’s just part of the overall package that is Pioneer Days Rodeo, which will feature seven straight days of competition with “slack” beginning at 8 a.m. through the weekdays – steer roping will take place Monday, April 27, and Tuesday, April 28; team roping, steer wrestling and tie-down roping will be Wednesday, April 29, and Thursday, April 30; and barrel racing will be Friday, May 1.

In all, nearly 1,000 cowboys and cowgirls will be battling through the week for Oklahoma Panhandle cash. Guymon is a major stop on the ProRodeo tour.

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

“We take a lot of pride in being a rodeo that the cowboys want to come to,” said Jim Quimby, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We have a great history of more than 80 years, and the contestants know that we’re going to cater to them.”

It makes sense. After all, cowboys with ties to the Oklahoma Panhandle have earned 12 gold buckles: saddle bronc riders Billy Etbauer (5), Robert Etbauer (2), Taos Muncy (2), Tom Reeves and Jeffery Willert join heeler Jhett Johnson as world champions. All six cowboys were part of the rodeo team at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in nearby Goodwell, Okla.

But there are many more contestants with ties to Texas County that are or have been NFR regulars, including two-time reserve world champion saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer, another Panhandle State rodeo team alumnus.

“We’re very proud of the cowboys and cowgirls that are from here and look forward to seeing them every year when they come back for our rodeo,” Quimby said. “To me, it shows everyone that we have some of the best cowboys in the world from right here.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Bridgeport benefits from rodeo

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:57am

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – Commitment to the community is the key reason several locals are part of the volunteers who orchestrate the Bridgeport rodeo.

“With Butterfield Stage Days, we try to draw some people from all walks of life to come and see what all we have to offer,” said Katherine Hudson, now in her 20th year as one of the volunteers for the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

“With the rodeo and the festival, we want to have enough to do to attract not just those who are in the rodeo, but the people who follow the rodeo. We have something for them to do during the day time.”

David Turnbow

David Turnbow

The rodeo will feature a brilliant mix of true athleticism and family entertainment, showcased by the brightest stars in professional rodeo. That includes the likelihood of Wise County world champions like Trevor Brazile and his brother-in-law, Tuf Cooper, both of whom brought more gold buckles home to north Texas in 2014.

But there’s so much more to the rodeo than the incredible competition; for the first time in the event’s history, highly decorated entertainer Troy “The Wild Child” Lerwill will showcase his talents and brand of comedy for the Bridgeport crowd.

“You learn something new every year, and you learn things you can do to make it better,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the volunteer committee. “We want to bring in things that will interest the crowd and try to get the whole community out there.”

When competition and entertainment are combined, it makes for quite an entertaining two days.

“I enjoy putting on something in a small city that brings out a wide variety of people that like to watch but don’t go anywhere else to watch,” Hudson said. “They have a chance at watching a professional cowboy that they might not have seen.”

The local rodeo typically features regular qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Take the 2014 event, for example: Three-time world champion Will Lowe won the bareback riding title in Bridgeport, while Brazile – who owns a ProRodeo record 21 world titles – won the all-around crown. Other winners included National Finals qualifiers like saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley and steer roper Chet Herren.

“Our rodeo and the festival downtown are pretty darn huge for the community,” Turnbow said. “Just the tax dollars that this thing brings in is incredible, with people staying in hotels, eating in the local restaurants and stopping at our fuel stations.

“I think the rodeo and the festival goes hand in hand very well and does some great things for our community.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Miller’s mind is on the community

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 11:16am

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – Like everyone else who volunteers each year to help produce the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo, Susan Miller’s focus is on the community and not for any rewards that might come her way.

She has received one anyway. In 2014, Miller was named the rodeo’s committee person of the year, an honor chosen by her peers as recognition for the time and talents she’s shared as a volunteer.

Susan Miller is one of numerous volunteers who help produce the annual Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days PRCA Rodeo, set for May 8-9 in Bridgeport, Texas. (PERSONAL PHOTO)

Susan Miller is one of numerous volunteers who help produce the annual Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days PRCA Rodeo, set for May 8-9 in Bridgeport, Texas. (PERSONAL PHOTO)

“I have spent seven years working on this rodeo, not for my own personal gain or to win an award, but for this community to have something special as this successful professional rodeo,” said Miller, whose full-time post is as the marketing director for James Woods Motors in the neighboring Texas communities of Denton and Decatur. “To be recognized for what I would have done to contribute to the success is absolutely awesome.”

The work continues as the committee prepares for this year’s rodeo, the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

“Susan has the mentality of getting after it,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the rodeo committee. “I can call her and ask her for help, and she’s all over it. She’ll do anything at any time, and she never complains. The key is she does it with a smile on her face every time.

“It’s good to have people who enjoy volunteering and doing this.”

That’s Miller.

“I’ve always been a community-minded person,” she said. “I’m raising my kids in this community, and I want it to thrive, be prosperous and be a place they can be proud of. The rodeo is just one small part of the overall, picture, but when that event is successful, many other factors in the community during that weekend are also successful.

“I have a son that rodeos, so being involved specifically in this rodeo helps me better understand everything he participates in.”

She also has realized how much work goes into producing the Bridgeport rodeo. The planning began shortly after last year’s event concluded, and the labor has intensified over the last few months. The core group of volunteers handles everything necessary to make the one weekend a year a success. That means a lot of man-hours for each person on the committee.

“We don’t just show up out there on Friday and Saturday night of the rodeo weekend,” Turnbow said. “There are so many little things that take place, from having the right relationships with sponsors to making sure the promotion is done to setting up the arena.

“Everything that seems so flawless during the weekend of the rodeo has taken months to prepare. We wanted to go back to having the concert like we used to have, so having Phil Hamilton come in has been a big change. Somebody had to make sure it all happened.”

The work is a vital part of making sure the community benefits.

“Bridgeport may be a small town, but it is made up of people who have big ideas for our community,” Miller said. “Those ideas are not just talked about; they are considered to be done. We welcome growth, and we welcome new ideas. I think we prosper at the thought of innovation.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Phil Hamilton takes music to Bridgeport

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 1:04pm

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – If music is deep in Phil Hamilton’s heart, Texas music is his soul.

He will put it all on the line Saturday, May 9, during a special concert as part of the annual Butterfield Stage Days celebration. The two-day gathering also features the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

Phil Hamilton will perform Saturday, May 9, after the second performance of the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days PRCA Rodeo.

Phil Hamilton will perform Saturday, May 9, after the second performance of the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days PRCA Rodeo. (PUBLICITY PHOTO)

Hamilton originally is from Burleson, Texas, about an hour southeast of Bridgeport. His style of music is the perfect fit for the Butterfield Stage Days celebration, and it’s why event organizers made plans for the Texas native to be part of the show.

“We’re very excited to have Phil Hamilton being the entertainment Saturday night,” said Susan Miller, a key member of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “It’s generated a great deal of excitement for us, and I think the community feels the same way.”

Hamilton has loved music since childhood, growing up in a musical family. His grandmother sang opera, and his aunt sang country. As a young adult, he discovered Texas acts like Robert Earl Keen, Charlie Robison and Pat Green, and Hamilton found his niche.

“I started writing some originals, but it didn’t come natural to me at first,” Hamilton said in his biography. “Back then I hadn’t had enough experiences with love and loss and all that stuff to make great songs.”

He continued to practice his writing skills and focusing on it.

“That’s when things started to take off,” he said. “The next thing I knew I was being offered a deal with Winding Road Music to record a full record.”

Nothing To Lose was released in 2009 and featured two singles that reached the top 15 on the Texas charts. His second album, Renegade Rock N Roll, featured three No. 1 songs: “Bad,” “Running” and “Back of a ’73.” He followed that with a third album from a legendary Fort Worth, Texas, club, Live At The Whiskey Girl Saloon.

“I was excited to show what we do live,” Hamilton said. “My only rule was that it had to be real authentic and 100 percent live, not re-cut or re-tracked, and we did it that way and it worked. It was just a phenomenal experience, and we captured the music just the way I wanted.”

When he’s not on the road playing before raucous audiences, Hamilton enjoys his time at home in Grandbury, Texas, where he combines his passion for music with the outdoors. It’s a great place for him to unwind and open the possibilities for his songwriting.

“I live on the road, but I don’t write on the road,” he said. “There are too many things going on, and it’s too tough for me to put my thoughts down out there. Hunting and the outdoors are my main things. When I’m home, half of the week I’m always out in the woods hunting or fishing.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Rangers women dominate rodeo

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 4:56pm

ALVA, Okla. – The Northwestern Oklahoma State University women’s rodeo team has inched closer to a major goal for this season.

With a dominating performance this past weekend, the Rangers are well within reach of clinching the Central Plains Region title. Northwestern posted 355 points to win the Southwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo title and push its lead in the circuit standings to more than 700 points with just two events remaining on the 2014-15 season.

Karley Kile

Karley Kile

“I was proud of everybody,” said Stockton Graves, the Rangers coach. “We competed well. The women did well. The men actually did well, even though it didn’t show up in the points.”

Senior Karley Kile of Overbrook, Kan., led the way with Northwestern, winning both the all-around and breakaway roping titles in Weatherford. But she wasn’t alone. In fact, Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D., was second in the all-around and, like Kile, qualified for the championship round in breakaway roping and goat tying.

Kile is third in the region in breakaway and is tied for eighth in goat tying. She has a chance to move to the top of the standings in the all-around heading into the Fort Hays (Kan.) State University rodeo this coming weekend and the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Doc Gardner Memorial rodeo the final weekend of April.

“This really doesn’t change anything,” said Kyle, a two-time goat-tying qualifier for the College National Finals Rodeo. “I’m still going to go for every rodeo.

Shayna Miller

Shayna Miller

“It’s pretty exciting, since I’ve never done any good in the breakaway.”

Miller leads the region standings in goat tying, followed by teammate Lauren Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz. In Weatherford, the Rangers women held eight spots in the short go-round: four in breakaway and two each in goat tying and barrel racing. In addition to Kile winning the breakaway title, Elli Price of Leady, Okla., finished in a three-way tie for third place in the average. They were joined in the final round by Sage Allen of Pawhuska, Okla.

Kile won the opening round with a 2.7-second run, then finished second in the short round with a 3.4. Her 6.1-second cumulative time on two runs was four-tenths of a second better than the field. Miller, meanwhile, placed second in the goat-tying aggregate with a two-run time of 16.2 seconds.

“It was just a matter of time,” Graves said of Kile’s top finish. “We needed her to do well, and I was plenty excited for her.”

In barrel racing, Kelsey Cloud of Elk City, Okla., finished third with a two-run time of 35.33 seconds, while Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., also made the final round. Every move helped pave the way for the team to return to the college finals, set for June 14-20 in Casper, Wyo.

Dustin Searcy

Dustin Searcy

“Shayna has obviously helped a lot, and Lauren has (too),” Kile said. “All the rest of the girls have stepped up their game this year. If we can take a team out there, it definitely helps out the school at the college finals.”

The Northwestern men finished fifth at Southwestern but had seven cowboys qualify for the short round – five were in team roping, led by senior heeler Dustin Searcy of Mooreland, Okla., who won both rounds and the average while roping with header Hunter Munsell of Western Oklahoma State College.

“I’ve known (Hunter) since I was a little kid,” Searcy said. “We practiced a lot when we were kids. “We’ve always had a natural partnership where we roped good together and have always had a lot of success.”

Searcy was joined in the short round by Northwestern teammates Jonathan Nixon of Paradise, Texas and Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah,who together finished fifth in the average, and Mike McGinn of Haines, Ore., and Stephen Culling of Fort St. John, British Columbia. Tie-down roper Maverick Harper finished sixth with a two-run cumulative time of 21.0 seconds, while Allred finished fifth in steer wrestling with a two-run time of 15.2.

The Northwestern men sit fifth in the team standings but have several cowboys who are in position to qualify for the college finals by the time the season concludes in a week and a half.

“We’ll just keep them focused on their goals and the plan, and hopefully we’ll succeed,” Graves said.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Locals battle for Guymon titles

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 10:51am

GUYMON, Okla. – There’s something in the water in Texas County, Okla.

This place is the breeding ground for great cowboys, whether they’re raised here or have transplanted to the Oklahoma Panhandle. There are plenty of great ones.

The proving ground has always been the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo. It will be again during this year’s championship, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

Trell Etbauer

Trell Etbauer

“It’s an important one for me, for sure,” said Trell Etbauer, a four-time Linderman Award winner from Goodwell, Okla., just 10 miles southwest of Guymon. “It’s my hometown rodeo and the closest big rodeo I go to all year.”

The son of two-time world champion Robert Etbauer and his wife, Sue, Trell grew up in this neck of the woods. He was a star athlete at Goodwell High School and a champion cowboy from youth rodeo through college at Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

But he’s one of many elite rodeo cowboys with ties to the Oklahoma Panhandle who have made their name on the ProRodeo trail. A list of world champions from the area is a good indication of that.

Jhett Johnson

Jhett Johnson

In addition to Robert Etbauer, there are 10 other gold buckles that have been earned by cowboys from the area once known as No Man’s Land: Billy Etbauer has the most with five saddle bronc riding world titles, followed by Taos Muncy, who has two; fellow bronc riders Tom Reeves and Jeff Willert join heeler Jhett Johnson with one apiece.

They are just a few of the elite contestants who make their living in ProRodeo who have ties to the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Atop the list, though, is Trevor Brazile, a 21-time world champion who grew up in nearby Gruver, Texas. He is a 45-time qualifier to the National Finals that also owns a record 12 all-around gold buckles.

He isn’t the only north Texas Panhandle cowboy to make the NFR; he was joined by Bray Armes, who also grew up near Gruver. This past December, they were joined in Las Vegas by Muncy and fellow bronc riders Cort Scheer, a Panhandle State alumnus and two-time Reserve World Champion, and Tyler Corrington, who lives near Gruver; and Joe Frost, a senior at Panhandle State who finished the 2014 season as the Reserve World Champion.

Joe Frost

Joe Frost

This is the perfect proving ground, but Pioneer Days Rodeo is a tough place to win. Nearly 1,000 contestants sign up to be part of the week long competition that concludes the first weekend in May each season.

“A lot of times, Guymon falls after the California run, so a lot of the guys heading back to Texas can hit it,” Trell Etbauer said. “It’s also one of the bigger rodeos, and all the guys go to those.”

Those are the attractive features for the sport’s greatest stars, but there are many more. The prize money is a key ingredient, but so is the competition. All steer ropers participate in four go-rounds, with the top 32 times returning for a fifth round. In tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling, each contestant is afforded two runs, with the top 40 teams returning for a third round.

Barrel racers all compete in the first round on Friday morning, then the top 40 times are brought back during the performances for the second round. When it’s all mixed together, it allows for a cut-throat approach to the big purse.

“I’ve placed in some rounds and placed in the average in calf roping and steer wrestling, but I’d really like to win it at least once,” Etbauer said. “You always want to win your hometown rodeo, and it’s usually the toughest to win. Guymon is especially tough, because so many great cowboys are there.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Western Days full of activities

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 11:00am

TOP ARTISTS, WESTERN EVENTS MAKES FOR FUN 4 DAYS AT SYCAMORE SPRINGS RANCH

LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – A beautiful spring leads to incredible nighttime views in picturesque eastern Oklahoma.

There’s no better setting for star gazing than in the rolling hills near this historic community. The stars get a little brighter during Cord McCoy’s Western Days, set for Thursday, April 16-Sunday, April 19, at Sycamore Springs Ranch just south of Locust Grove.

CordAd-250“When I came up with the idea for Western Days, I wanted to attract people to the lifestyle we live every day and show everyone all the things that go into a true Western festival,” said McCoy, a champion rodeo cowboy who, with brother Jet, was a three-time fan favorite on “The Amazing Race,” a CBS-TV reality series. “What we’ve come up with is so much more.

“We’re going to have great country Western artists the first three nights, including legendary Red Stegall, David Frizzell and the Jason Roberts Band. I’m excited about that, because it’s a great way to conclude a full day.”

Western Days is loaded with plenty of opportunities for festival-goers. In addition to the plethora of events going on at the various arenas on the sprawling Sycamore Springs Ranch, a nightly rodeo will be part of each day’s festivities. In fact, the event will conclude at 6 p.m. Sunday with the Cord McCoy Bull Riding Challenge, which will feature a $10,000 bounty bull and Frank Newsome Freestyle Bullfights.

“We want to make every day exciting,” McCoy said. “That’s why we’re having the concerts and why we want to feature rodeo every evening.”

This is the perfect venue for cowboys of all types – from those who have lived their lives horseback to those who have just dreamed about it. That’s why there are numerous festivities taking place throughout each day: Western events and competitions, chuck wagon feasts and a daily exotic trail ride across the beautiful Sycamore Springs Ranch.

A Western trade show will be a major part of each day’s activities. The opening day will feature a Western showdown, ranch sorting practice, the Ultimate Western Challenge and Dick Pieper Horsemanship, appealing to all levels of cowboys.

Friday’s festivities will include those and a cattle dog demonstration, the ranch sorting competition, a team roping championship, a steer roping contest and a miniature rodeo tour. Added on Saturday will be the Silver Select Horse Sale and a barrel racing challenge, while Sunday will include the Western Worship Service and a ranch rodeo.

“I was raised around all this and love it, but I wanted it to be more,” McCoy said. “I’ve traveled around the world three times, and I wanted to appeal to every person that has ever watched a Western or ever thought about being a cowboy.

“I want the guy who wears a suit every day to come and enjoy and trade out his business shoes for cowboy boots for a few days. I think this is something he’ll enjoy, too.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Champion horse continues winning

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 9:52am
Three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Matt Bright rides the famed Dirty Jacket to win the title at the 2011 Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo. Four times over the last seven years, cowboys have won the Guymon title on the back of Dirty Jacket, the 2014 Bareback Horse of the Year.

Three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Matt Bright rides the famed Dirty Jacket to win the title at the 2011 Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo. Four times over the last seven years, cowboys have won the Guymon title on the back of Dirty Jacket, the 2014 Bareback Horse of the Year.

GUYMON, Okla. – Dirty Jacket is one of the most decorated bucking horses in ProRodeo.

The 11-year-old bay gelding from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo is the reigning Bareback Horse of the Year as voted on by members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He also has been one of the top three horses in the year-end voting each of the past three seasons.

At the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December, the athletic horse proved the accolades, guiding cowboys to go-round victories both times he bucked inside the Thomas & Mack Center: Richmond Champion of The Woodlands, Texas, won the fifth round, while Caleb Bennett of Tremonton, Utah, claimed the 10th-round title.

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

“There’s not another horse like him,” said Champion, who also won the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days title after a 91-point ride in July. “Dirty Jacket might’ve even looked better than he did that day in Cheyenne.”

The fifth and 10th rounds featured the greatest bucking horses in rodeo, an elite list of phenomenal athletes. Even then, Dirty Jacket stood out. Now he will have a chance to stand out again at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. It’s a place where he’s guided cowboys to the prestigious Guymon title four times in the last seven years.

“There wasn’t a bad horse in the pen, but to have Dirty Jacket again at the NFR and to win the round was awesome,” said Champion, who shared the Guymon title last year on Fancy Free, another great Carr bucking horse. “There’s not another night that you get to walk down the alley with that caliber of horse standing all next to each other.

“That same feeling runs in all of us to see that kind of horse lined up for us, just standing outside the Thomas & Mack. That’s what dreams are made of in this sport.”

Caleb Bennett

Caleb Bennett

It’s the same feeling Bennett had when he prepared for the final night of the competition. It had been a rough week for the Utah cowboy, who had placed in just one round prior to the 10th night.

“I couldn’t have been more blessed and ask for anything more than to end it the way I did on Dirty Jacket,” he said. “It’s a phenomenal horse and definitely one of the ones you want to have in this round.”

The powerful gelding is one of four Pete Carr horses that have received the top honor in bareback riding, joining pasture-mates like Real Deal, Big Tex and MGM Deuces Night. In 2013, when Dirty Jacket was named Reserve World Champion Bareback Horse, he helped cowboys to at least a share of the title 12 of 13 times he performed during the regular season. In 2014, his wins were just as miraculous.

Champion’s 91 in Cheyenne was one of two of the highest marked rides of the campaign. The other was by Steven Dent, who rode Dirty Jacket for a matching 91 on the final weekend of the regular season at the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo in Stephenville, Texas, in September.

“Any time you can draw one that everybody wants, you’re happy with it whether you’re in that situation or it’s a regular-season rodeo,” said Dent, a seven-time NFR qualifier from Mullen, Neb. “You don’t have the opportunity to get on a horse that you can be that many points on and that’s that fun to get on very often in your life, much less the last week of the year when you’re trying to make the NFR.

“That is a really great horse. There are not very many of them like him that do it every time, that are that electric, jump that high in the air and that you can be that many points on.”

The horse has been selected to buck at the NFR each of the past seven seasons. Earlier this year, Jessy Davis scored 93 points during the Cinch Shootout at the San Angelo Stock Show Rodeo.

“He has a huge frame, but he’s so athletic from nose to tail. He just looks like an athlete. If you could pick a horse out of a herd that could jump nine feet in the air, he’s that horse,” Champion said. “If you’re going to win a big rodeo, that’s the horse you want.”

Dirty Jacket is powerful, athletic and consistent, but what makes him a proven winner year after year is in the effort he puts forward every trip. He has the heart of a champion.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

American Royal is still giving

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 5:07pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Over the course of the last century, the American Royal has been one of the top giving organizations in the Midwest.

In 2014, the American Royal issued more than $1 million to its mission of supporting youth, education and agriculture.

AmericanRoyal“By any measure, we are one of the top giving organizations in the city,” said John Mitchell Jr., chairman of the Royal.

Its charity is going to increase starting in 2015.

The examples are plenty, from increasing the scholarships for various programs to providing more opportunities for youth to learn more about agriculture’s place in today’s society. The purpose of the American Royal continues to hold tight those beliefs that helped establish Kansas City so many years ago.

For instance, the Royal will increase by $10,000 the amount of scholarship funds awarded to the University of Missouri and Kansas State University through the Veterinary Scholars Program. Through the end of 2014, the organization provided $7,500 to each vet school; that increases to $12,500 this year.

“Our education committee will also develop additional opportunities for the vet scholars to interact with other American Royal programs,” Mitchell said. “We believe the American Royal is a great teaching opportunity for vet scholars, and we want to develop other ways to improve those relationships and build our future leaders.”

The association also will increase the number of scholarships for the Royal Scholars Program from six to 10 while also increasing the scholarship by twice the amount to $5,000. The Royal also expects to increase the number of Calf Scramble invitees while continuing its commitment to funding the program.

“Every step we take is to provide greater opportunities and hopefully build on the agrarian values we deem so important,” Mitchell said.

The association also is partnering with the Agriculture Future of America organization, which, like the Royal, supports education, scholarship and leadership development for students interested in pursuing careers in agriculture. The American Royal will team with the AFA with a $10,000 scholarship.

“We believe in the Agriculture Future of America’s mission, and we want to show our support for another organization that has the same values with the American Royal,” Mitchell said. “This partnership will enable us to keep building for future agriculture leaders.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo
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