News & Notes from the rodeo trail
After a nationwide search, four performers have been selected by fans to sing the National Anthem at the Dec. 3-12 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Sierra Black, representing the open category; Nikki Scheer, representing the rodeo committees (Aksarben Stock Show & Rodeo in Omaha, Neb.); Emma Walker, representing the youth category; and Morgan Kirby, the wild card winner, will perform before a capacity crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center.
James Delmar “Jim” Baker of Inez, Wyo., a four-time qualifier for the National Finals Steer Roping, passed away Oct. 25. He was 80. Baker qualified for the NFSR in 1967-68, 1974 and 1977. He finished a career-best seventh in the world standings in 1968. Baker was part of the first rodeo team at Casper (Wyo.) College, and was director for the Rocky Mountain Region in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
The future of the Canadian Finals Rodeo is up in the air, with discussions that the event, which has taken place in Edmonton for the past 42 years, may move to a different Canadian city when the contract expires in 2017. “All I can say is that there are a lot of other places in the country that would like to see a Canadian Finals,” said CPRA General Manager Dan Eddy. It’s estimated that the CFR and Farmfair International – Canada’s top agricultural show – which runs in tandem with the rodeo at the Edmonton EXPO Centre, inject approximately $50 million into Edmonton and the surrounding area annually. Last year, a combined 181,565 people attended the CFR and Farmfair.
After 11 years on the Ellensburg (Wash.) Rodeo Board of Directors, Dr. Myron Linder has decided to leave his post. “I enjoyed working with Myron for the 11 years that he volunteered for the Ellensburg Rodeo,” President Jeff Faltus said. “It’s difficult when a friend retires and you’ve got to fill that vacancy, I will miss working with him.” Linder’s contributions to the Ellensburg Rodeo were numerous. He was responsible for several essential functions of rodeo such as royal court, contestant relations, cowboy bistro and posse liaison.
Man in the Can, a rodeo documentary by independent filmmaker Noessa Higa, has been selected to screen at Lone Star Film Festival, the largest film festival in Fort Worth, Texas. The 38-minute film follows the personal journey of aspiring rodeo clown and barrelman Ronald Burton as he seeks to reach the major leagues of the PRCA. It also features PRCA announcer T.C. Long and PRCA Director of Rodeo Administration and Chief Operating Office Aaron Enget. The film has garnered multiple awards on the film festival circuit, including the Audience Award when it was screened at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood as part of Dances With Films, Best Documentary at the Snake Alley Festival in Iowa and Best Texas Film at the Hill Country Film Festival. Man in the Can will be playing at Four Day Weekend Theater in Fort Worth Nov. 7 at 1:45 p.m. For more information about the film and upcoming screenings, visit http://www.maninthecanmovie.com.
Fred Thomas, who has served as the president of the Williams Lake (British Columbia) Stampede Association for more than 20 years, recently declined his nomination to remain in that role. “It’s time for me to step back. It’s been a riot, I’ve enjoyed it and I’ll still be a part of it,” said Thomas, who has one more year to serve as director, as well as his duties as past president. Stepping up as the new Stampede president is Tim Rolph, who has been the rodeo director for the past several years.
Alvin Nelson, the 1957 saddle bronc riding world champion and a ProRodeo Hall of Famer, was featured in a recent episode of NBC-TV’s show “Special Cowboy Moments.” Nelson, who died last December, was the 1961-62 National Finals Rodeo saddle bronc riding average champion, and is credited for revolutionizing the event’s riding style. The episode featured interviews with his wife, Kaye, a former Miss Rodeo North Dakota, his brother-in-law, Vic Van Dyke, and his son, Louis.
The Horse Heaven Round Up Rodeo in Kennewick, Wash., donated $7,292 to cancer prevention efforts in the community as part of its Tough Enough to Wear Pink program from this year’s event. The money will be shared among area hospital foundations to assist those in need in the battle against breast cancer. Over the past nine years, the rodeo and fair in Kennewick have donated more than $142,000 to local programs to help the uninsured, which has enabled 1,500 women in the community to receive free mammograms and cancer screenings, follow-up care and other forms of assistance.
Brad Pierce, the 2007 PRCA Resistol Bull Riding Rookie of the Year, won the Australian Professional Rodeo Association saddle bronc riding championship Oct. 25 in Warwick, Queensland. Shane Kenny – a past PRCA member who earned $43,616 in steer wrestling and tie-down roping before heading back to his hometown of Emerald, Queensland, in 2008 – also found success at the APRA Finals. Kenny won four titles – the all-around, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping (header).
The Dickinson State University (N.D.) rodeo team will be relocating to a new facility after the city chose the current rodeo grounds as the place to build a proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. Lee Ann Karsky, chair of the Stark County Fair Board, said the DSU rodeo team and the Roughrider Days Rodeo will be moved to the Stark County Fairgrounds being constructed just beyond the city’s southern limits, with the upcoming summer season being the last at DSU.
Dugan Kelly, a six-time WNFR team roping heeler, was one of four people inducted into the Paso Robles (Calif.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame Oct. 30 during halftime of the varsity football game. Kelly (class of 1996) was the 1996 National High School Rodeo Team Roping Champion. As a freshman at Cal Poly, he qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo.
Harley Gilbert, a PRCA gold card member and former RCA bull rider, was one of six people inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City. In addition to bull riding, Gilbert also worked as a pickup man and rodeo judge for several years.