Faster at the Fizz Bomb
In its 38th year, new fast times are still being clocked at the Fizz Bomb Classic September 9-13 at the Cam-Plex Event Center in Gillette, Wyoming. Dacota Monk on Famous Lemon Drop ran a 14.591 for first in the ACBRA BBR Jackpot in the Cowgirl Tuff Open 4D, earning him $1202 for just that run.
The event has been hosted in Gillette since its inception in 1982. Fizz Bomb Classic got its name, with permission, from a cartoon in Western Horseman years ago in which a girl’s horse was named Fizz Bomb.
Zane and Stacey Thar of Thar Ranch Productions have produced the Fizz Bomb for the past four years. They also put on a large youth rodeo, ranch sortings, ropings, and other events. The Fizz Bomb hosts a futurity and derby as well as open and youth categories.
“We had record numbers this year,” Stacey said. “We had 177 in the futurity and 91 in the derby, so the numbers were really, really up.”
She attributed the boom in contestants to events getting cancelled due to COVID-19 in the springs, as well as several years of rebuilding and rebranding.
“This is how those trainers make their money. The spring was really slow for a lot of them not getting to go,” she said.
Thar Productions had to turn in variances this year stating they would have hand sanitizer and masks available. They used separate entrances and exits and reminded contestants to social distance.
“We always try to limit the number of contestants in the barn at one time for safety of the contestants, but this year, we did it for COVID too,” she said.
When she stepped into the production position, Stacey said there were about 50 to 60 horses running in the futurity and about a dozen in the derby. Now, the Fizz Bomb Classic pulls athletes from around the country and typically Canada to compete in Wyoming. Due to the border closure, only the Canadians stuck within the states were able to attend this year.
“There are a lot of top-caliber, high-end, competitive horses that start out in futurities and come here,” Stacey said. “It’s really fun to follow them and follow their stories and the trainers.”
Eight of the 15 horses that competed at National Finals Rodeo last year ran at the Fizz Bomb in their futurity year.
Calley Worth, of Pierre, South Dakota, has competed at the Fizz Bomb since 2014. Part of the appeal for her is competing side-by-side with some of the top athletes in the industry.
“The atmosphere is pretty laid back but you get to see and compete with some incredible horses and riders,” Worth said. “Even if you are not entered in the futurity or maturity, you need to watch some of the amazing horses that come through the alleyway.”
An event of the size and caliber of the Fizz Bomb Classic requires ample help, support, and sponsorship in order to offer prizes and added money.
“In my second year, I started doing these leather fast-time clocks, so it’s tooled leather on the background for futurity, derby, and open,” she said. “Goven’s Farm and Ranch Supply has always been a huge part in making the event successful. The community helps a lot.”
Classic Equine and Rodeo Riggs have always sponsored the Fizz Bomb throughout the years, and they have received extensive support and accommodations from the Cam-Plex.
“For the horse’s in their futurity years, these barrel races are planned out and established on the calendar, and the Cam-Plex makes sure we have those dates,” Stacey said. “Jason at the Cam-Plex does an amazing job making sure the ground stays good, and it’s safe for those young horses to be running hard.”
Worth agrees that in her six years of competing at the Fizz Bomb at all levels from futurity to open, the facilities are exceptional in offerings.
“The Fizz Bomb has a history of being on a weekend with cold, wintery weather, but there is a heated back we can warm up in,” Worth said. “The ground in the building is fantastic. I don’t remember a time running there for any event that I have had to worry about the ground being unsafe for my horses. There is also a great tradeshow, concession stand, and, most importantly, a fabulous coffee stand that I appreciate so much during those long events.”
The handful of people working in the office and around the grounds ensure that the Fizz Bomb is run as smoothly as can be. Most of those who help the Thars at the Fizz Bomb also lend a hand at their other events.
“It’s like a family for sure,” Stacey said. “I think that’s what makes it so good and they add so much to it, for us and for the contestants.”
The hard work of Stacey and Zane and their crew doesn’t go unnoticed by contestants.
“They go above and beyond for every contestant and try their hardest for you whether they know you or not,” Worth said. “They bring in a load of incentives and sidepots that give you more chances at winning money, and they always have an awesome team. All of them are so helpful.”
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