LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ Over the years, the men and women who organize the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo work tirelessly to make it one of the best events to hit southeastern New Mexico every summer.
Their work is being recognized at a national level.
In 2013, the members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association nominated the rodeo as one of the top five large outdoor events in the country. With most of the PRCA membership being competing cowboys, it says something about the things being done every year.
â€śWhen I found out weâ€™d been nominated, it took my breath away,â€ť said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. â€śIt was such an honor considering who we were competing with, rodeos like Cheyenne (Wyo.) and Pendleton (Ore.) that have such a long history.
â€śTo be nominated in that group is such an honor. I was proud to be part of the fair board.â€ť
There are lots of reasons for that pride. In addition to the rodeo committee being nominated in 2013, Pete Carr was nominated as PRCA stock contractor of the year; Pete Carr Pro Rodeo produces the Lovington rodeo and has for a number of years.
â€śI think we have such a good relationship with Pete, and that makes a difference in our fair and rodeo,â€ť said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. â€śIt was very special to me that we were nominated for rodeo of the year the same time Pete was nominated for stock contractor of the year.
â€śWeâ€™ve said for a long time that Pete Carr is one of the best contractors in rodeo, and now everybody in the PRCA agrees.â€ť
Massey has been on the rodeo committee a number of years, and heâ€™s seen the rodeo grow over the years. Now itâ€™s a major part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour and hosts the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Combined with one of the greatest expositions in the region, it is a major stop for ProRodeoâ€™s biggest stars.
â€śIâ€™m also on the rodeo committee, and we work hard,â€ť Helton said. â€śWe go to Las Vegas during the convention and go to the meetings so that we can do things to make our rodeo better and better every year. It takes a lot of work, and every person on the committee is dedicated to making it the best it can be.
â€śBeing nominated is the biggest thing to happen to this fair and rodeo in a long time.â€ť
WINNSBORO, La. â€“ The sport of rodeo has a great history in this eastern Louisiana berg.
The tradition continues during the 57th annual Deep South PRCA Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 2, at Deep South Rodeo Arena in Winnsboro.
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€śItâ€™s very community oriented. Itâ€™s a grassroots, downhome-type rodeo that has a great history.â€ť
That history is mixed with a top-notch production from the crew at Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeo, the livestock contractor for the event. Together, it makes for a phenomenal experience for contestants and fans.
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
Thatâ€™s something folks in Winnsboro have come to expect.
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 five 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
It shows in the product. Last year, some of the top names in the game came away from Winnsboro with Louisiana cash. Texan Jake Brown scored 85 points to win bareback riding on Carrâ€™s Ragin Angel, a horse that has bucked at the NFR each of the past two years. Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La., won the saddle bronc riding crown on Carrâ€™s Miss Rodeo.
Those are just a few of the big names who make the Deep South Rodeo so strong.
â€śWhen the DeMoss boys come, it really boosted the whole crowd because they like to see our guys ride,â€ť Stinson said. â€śThey bring a lot of their friends to ride with them.â€ť
That says a lot about the Winnsboro rodeo, the community and the great animal athletes that are part of the mix.
â€śThis is just a great little rodeo,â€ť Stewart said. â€śOne thing that Winnsboro does is they have one of the largest kids rodeos in the South the weekend before the ProRodeo, and some of the kids get to ride during the actual rodeo. Thatâ€™s pretty cool.â€ť
It all adds up to a great show for rodeo fans.