News & Notes from the Rodeo Trail
• Kaycee Feild made history last December when he pulled off a double three-peat with his third consecutive wins in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average and the world standings – something that no other cowboy in any event has accomplished. Now he’s looking to become the first rodeo cowboy to earn recognition as Utah’s Pro Athlete of the Year. When the nominees are formally announced on March 16 fans can visit http://www.stateofsportawards.com and vote for their favorites daily through midnight on April 16. The winners will be unveiled April 22 at the 3rd annual Governor’s State of Sport Awards at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, with golf greats Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Billy Casper on the dais.
• Nancy Lou (Bragg) Witmer, a PRCA rodeo trick rider who was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 1992 and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth in 1997, died on Feb. 24 at the age of 87. Witmer began her trick riding career on a borrowed horse at the Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford, Texas. She trained in tap and acrobatic dancing and was educated in drama at Brenau College. Witmer worked rodeos as a child trick roper, and then discovered trick riding. Witmer invented a signature stunt known as the “Falling Tower,” which was a standing backbend from the back of a galloping horse. Her companion in trick riding was her beloved palomino, Texas Clipper. Witmer became the featured attraction in major rodeos by age 17, performing at rodeo competitions in Madison Square Garden. From trick riding, Witmer went on to compete in barrel racing and tie-down roping. But the physical toll – she suffered a couple of serious leg fractures in the mid-1950s – ended her career by the time she was 30. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Bill Witmer and three children.
• The Reno (Nev.) Rodeo Committee has commissioned a statue of legendary stock contractor Cotton Rosser of Marysville, Calif., that will be dedicated on the grounds June 22, during the 95th edition of the “Wildest, Richest Rodeo of the West.” A Legacy Dinner honoring Rosser on April 16 at the Livestock Events Center in Reno will help raise money for the statue and a planned Western Museum to house Reno Rodeo memorabilia.
• Robert Boyt “Bob” Evans, a 50-year PRCA Gold Card member, and the late Wayne Hankamer were honored March 1 by the Trinity Valley Exposition in Liberty, Texas, with their Western Heritage Awards. Evans, 80, served on the TVE rodeo committee for 26 years.
• A memorial service for longtime rodeo figure Bob Eidson has been set for 9:30 a.m. April 14 at the Oakdale (Calif.) Country Club, with a lunch to follow the services. There is also a Memorial Golf Tournament being planned bearing his name, with niece Gina Kraut working out the details; she is hoping to have one PRCA cowboy in each foursome. Eidson, a three-time qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo as a bareback rider, a three-time NFR judge and a longtime administrator for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, died Oct. 25 at his home in Folsom, Calif.
• The Columbia Basin Rodeo Association is looking for a way to pay for new bleachers for the Moses Lake (Wash.) Round-Up arena. After fixing three sets of bleachers and eliminating one last year, county officials were given three years to decide if they wanted to keep repairing them or replace them. In June, the county will have two years left to figure out how to fund and replace the bleachers for the August rodeo, said Grant County Fairgrounds manager Jerry Gingrich. He says the estimated cost for replacing and installing the bleachers is $514,000. After meeting with state Rep. Judy Warnick, Gingrich said there’s a possibility for state funds. F