2020 James Sutton Memorial Bronze Winner: Shorty Garrett
A born and bred South Dakotan took home the James Sutton Sr. Memorial honor at the 2020 Rodeo Rapid City.
Shorty Garrett, Eagle Butte, S.D., rode Sutton Rodeo’s South Point for 90.5 points and a pocketful of cash.
The nearly $5,000 he won was nice padding for a trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, where he finished the 2020 season tenth in the world and won over $18,000.
The 28-year-old cowboy comes from a rich rodeo heritage.
The son of Juan and Johnilyn Garrett, his uncles are Mark and Marvin Garrett, who have a combined five world titles. His half-brother, J.D. Garrett, made the Finals in the bareback riding, and an uncle on his mom’s side, T.C. Holloway, qualified for the NFR in the saddle bronc riding in 2000. His brother-in-law, Chason Floyd, steer wrestled at the Finals in 2018, and another uncle, Chuck Holloway, served as pickup man there.
Garrett didn’t start his rodeo career as a saddle bronc rider.
His granddad, Johnny Holloway, had a strict rule: no bronc riding till his kids and grandkids weighed 100 lbs. And for Shorty, that took until his senior year of high school. “I graduated high school at 103 lbs. and I was five foot two,” he said. By the time he finished his first semester of college, he had grown six inches and added ten pounds.
In high school rodeo, he focused on bull riding and team roping, and it was the bull riding that paid his way in the South Dakota Rodeo Association and other regional rodeos.
He competed collegiately at Casper (Wyo.) College, but never made the College National Finals Rodeo. On the last bull that would have qualified him for the College Finals, he bucked off, and that’s when he decided to quit riding bulls. “The bronc riding was just starting to click, and I was having way more fun with it. The bull riding was just there. And if you don’t crave riding bulls, it’s not going to be a good outcome.”
Garrett got his PRCA permit in 2013 and his card a year later. Last year he had his best pro rodeo season ever, qualifying for his first Wrangler NFR.
His 2020 winter went well. Not only did he win Rodeo Rapid City, but he won or split the win in the three rounds of his bracket in San Antonio and tied for second in the short round. He did well at Ft. Worth and Houston as well.
And the summer rolled along, too. “I was having so much fun I didn’t worry about what rodeo we were at,” he said. “It was clicking.”
He lives and ranches on his granddad Johnny’s place, where he lived as a youngster.
Shorty is the second-born, with an older sister, Jesika Floyd, and younger sisters Juan’L and Shamra. Growing up with three sisters was “tough,” he said. “I have three of the best sisters a guy could have,” he said, “but it wasn’t that way when we were little. I got ganged up on all the time.”
He’s engaged to Alex Bush, from Belle Fourche, with a wedding day planned for May of this year. They’ve known each other since they were kids, and she’s a no-fuss, low-drama kind of woman. “She’s pretty easy to please,” Garrett said.
The James Sutton, Sr. Memorial Bronze came into being in 1992, to honor Sutton, Sr., who passed away in January of 1991, and in honor of the many outstanding saddle bronc riders from South Dakota.
A bronze is given to the saddle bronc winner of Rodeo Rapid City if he was born in or lives in South Dakota.
The first year it was given, it went to the three Etbauer brothers: Robert, Dan and Billy, for their overall contributions to the sport of rodeo. Past recipients include Jesse Bail (2002); Jeffrey Willert (2003); Jake Costello (2005); JJ Elshere (2007); Ty Kennedy (2009); Cole Elshere (2012); Jeremy Meeks (2013); Garrett in 2017, and Ty Manke (2019). The award can be won multiple times, but the bronze is only awarded once. Garrett loves his. “I’ve never won a bronze before,” he said, “and I’ve always wanted that bronze. Anytime you can win a prize like that, it’s pretty neat.”
The piece was sculpted by Spearfish, S.D. artist Tony Chytka and it depicts John McBeth, a long-time friend of Sutton, Sr. and a world champion saddle bronc rider, on the horse Half Velvet, who bucked at the Finals. Half Velvet, who only had one eye, was a money horse, said Steve Sutton, James Sr.’s grandson. “You won the money if you had his number for the draw,” he said. “You couldn’t hardly mess him up.” He bucked under several other names, including Indian Sign, Coors Lite, and One-Eyed Skoal.
The memorial has a matching piece that is half-life-sized. For years, the statue stood outside of the host hotel for the Rapid City rodeo, and during the rodeo and stock show, Steve Sutton would move it to the building. It took four men to lift it, and after many years, he decided it belonged in front of his and Kim’s house, where it sits now.
Rodeo Rapid City will take place Jan. 29-Feb. 6 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. For more information on the rodeo, visit http://www.suttonrodeo.com.
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