STARKVILLE, Miss. â€“ Rodeo is much more than a sport.
Itâ€™s a true showcase, the perfect piece of family entertainment. That is the mindset taken by the staff involved with Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeo, which is bringing its show to the Rotary Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, and Saturday, Feb. 15, at MS Horse Park in Starkville.
â€śWe try to have the theatrical portion of our show not interfere with the competition side,â€ť said Cody Whitney, a production supervisor for the Dallas-based livestock firm. â€śWe try to run a good, fast, clean performance without interfering with the competition.
â€śThatâ€™s where weâ€™re different from other rodeo companies. If weâ€™re not ready, the cowboy has to wait. When it comes time for that cowboy to compete, weâ€™ve done everything we can to make that animal ready for that cowboy, so all he has to do is nod his head.â€ť
Thatâ€™s very attractive for everyone involved. Fans love it, which makes the experience perfect for local organizers.
â€śI know Iâ€™m going to have a top performance and that weâ€™re going to have top stock thatâ€™s been at the National Finals Rodeo,â€ť said Bricklee Miller, an organizer with the Rotary Rodeo. â€śThatâ€™s going to give the contestants the best opportunity to have high-marked rides in the riding events and fast times in the timed events.
â€śThat helps make it a fun event for the fans.â€ť
The overall package is set up for everyone involved. The Carr team works hard to make it a fair competition for the cowboys and cowgirls, then puts in a concerted effort to put together a production that will have fans talking long after the final bull is bucked.
â€śWe micromanage our program ahead of time,â€ť Carr said. â€śWe canâ€™t be perfect, but we can dang sure get as close as we can. Weâ€™re always striving to be better, identifying the weaknesses and taking constructive criticism. Itâ€™s an everyday challenge, but I think trying to be better is just trying to take it to the next level.
â€śIâ€™m proud of what we do, but I know we can always find ways to improve things. I like that the people I work with have that same mindset, too.â€ť
The proof is in what happens at each rodeo performance.
â€śI think the key to the success of a Carr rodeo is a combination of good animals and good production,â€ť Miller said. â€śI think itâ€™s really important to keep the fans engaged in what theyâ€™re watching and be very conscience of the time frame so we can have them enjoy a great show.
â€śThe one thing Iâ€™ve found with Pete Carr and his crew is that theyâ€™re very attentive to the overall production. They know what it takes to keep the fans engaged.â€ť
Itâ€™s a start-to-finish project for the entire Carr staff.
â€śWhat starts the production is our version of Americana,â€ť Whitney said. â€śWeâ€™re looking to get peoplesâ€™ emotions up, get them on the edge of their seats so when that first animal bucks, the height of the excitement is already up.â€ť
WEST MONROE, La. â€“ Over the years, Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeo has been recognized as one of the premier stock contracting firms in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
The backbone of any strong company is its people, and the Carr staff is strong and steady.
â€śWe have the best crew in rodeo,â€ť said Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock company. â€śI believe if you want to be successful, you have to surround yourself with good people. Everything weâ€™ve ever accomplished is because of the team that we have.â€ť
The staff is made up of rodeo veterans, who will be on site for the West Monroe ProRodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, and Saturday, Feb. 14, at Ike Hamilton Expo Center. From the behind-the-scenes labor to making sure the arena is in perfect condition, they take their jobs seriously.
â€śWeâ€™ve got a terrific group of people I get to work with all year long,â€ť said John L. Wagley of Alexandria, La., who has been selected to work as the timed-event chute boss at the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo for several years. â€śWe all know what it takes to get everything done, and we work good together.
â€śWhen you haul across the country, itâ€™s good to know youâ€™ve got a good crew thatâ€™s got your back. If any of us needs any help, we donâ€™t have to look too far for it.â€ť
That type of work ethic has paid off. For the past two years, Carr has been nominated for the PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year Award. In 2014, the firm received the Womenâ€™s Professional Rodeo Associationâ€™s Stock Contractor of the Year.
â€śThe awards say a lot about the work our staff puts in together,â€ť Carr said. â€śItâ€™s more than the great bucking stock. These awards show that the hours everybody puts in has a reward.â€ť
The crew received numerous awards in the 2014 ProRodeo season. While Wagley worked the Prairie Circuit Finals, bullfighter Clay Heger was selected to work the Ram Southeastern Circuit Finals Rodeo. Pickup man Jeremy Willis was honored for the Ram Texas Circuit Finals and also will be one of the pickup men at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2015.
The husband-wife team of John and Sandy Gwatney were honored at the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping; John was the eventâ€™s chute boss, while Sandy was the secretary.
Each selection was a tribute to ability but also was a tip of the hat to the hard work that each member of the Carr crew puts in at every rodeo they work.
â€śEach one of us does this because we love it,â€ť Wagley said. â€śWeâ€™ve got a great outfit, and that makes it even better when we get to the rodeo.â€ť
AMERICAN ROYAL HAS THE RIGHT FACILITIES FOR ORGANIZERS OF MANY ANNUAL EVENTS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. â€“ Nothing quite beats the comforts of home, from familiarity to flexibility to having all the amenities one needs.
The American Royal is just that place for event organizers who need that perfect complex.
â€śWe are quite pleased that weâ€™re able to have the American Royal facility to host our show,â€ť said Ken Dean with the Western Farm Show, an exhibition operated by the Kansas City-based Western Equipment Dealer Association that is scheduled for Feb. 20-22 at the American Royal complex.
The association also leans on the benefits of home, not only having its show in Kansas City, but also having it at one of the best known complexes related to farming and ranching activities. Thereâ€™s a common comfort that comes with the relationship between the dealer association and the American Royal.
â€śWe have exhibitors that have exhibited in the same spot for over 40 years,â€ť Dean said. â€śNot only is there longevity in our show, but the continuity is really important to us. It makes it easy for our attendees; once they know the date each year, theyâ€™re able to come to the same location.
â€śThey have convenient parking, the same exhibition in the same building. I think thatâ€™s good for all of us.â€ť
From fans to competing cowboys and cowgirls, the New Yearâ€™s Rodeo Stampede is a wintertime stop in Kansas City. It takes place late each December inside Hale Arena at the American Royal complex.
â€śWe do several events with the American Royal in conjunction with all their events throughout the year,â€ť said Regan McKellips with Raymore, Mo.-based McKellips Rodeo. â€śFor us, having Hale Arena and the other buildings attached really helps, because itâ€™s all under one roof. You can flow from one building to another.
â€śWe can unload our livestock inside, which is a big help that time of year because the weather can be bad. Itâ€™s very accessible for trailers and livestock.â€ť
It also is accessible for fans and contestants, many whom travel from surrounding states in order to be part of the festivities.
â€śThe location is good for us, with ample parking for the trailers and ample place for stalls and livestock pens,â€ť McKellips said. â€śWe had over 500 contestants, and most of them were competing every day throughout the four days. Thatâ€™s a long period of time that everybody is in one place, and the facility works well for us.
â€śItâ€™s a pretty convenient setup. Weâ€™ve had other facilities wanting us to move our event, but those facilities arenâ€™t as user friendly, especially when itâ€™s cold outside. Those things make it extra nice.â€ť
That is a similar reflection shared by Dean and others at the Western Equipment Dealer Association, which has been part of the Kansas City fabric since 1889.
â€śThe last few years we utilize the entire facility,â€ť Dean said. â€śWe rent exhibit space available to us on both levels. If thereâ€™s a nook or cranny, we probably have somebody showing in there.
â€śThe American Royal facility is the perfect fit for the Western Farm Show. The fact that weâ€™ve held the show there for so many years, we like the continuity of the show. As we plan for each yearâ€™s event, that is certainly a luxury to us to have that continuity already in place.â€ť