Roping, Riding, Remembering
September 20, 2018
The inaugural Logan Van Eaton Memorial Ranch Rodeo and Roping went off without a hitch over Labor Day weekend at the Fall River County Fairgrounds in Edgemont, South Dakota. The event, coordinated by his parents Wyatt and Jessica Van Eaton, is in memory of Logan, who passed away after a ranch-related accident two years ago.
"Logan loved everything about horses, cattle, and ranching," said Blue Borton, a friend of the Van Eaton family since 2004. "I think that is pretty rare in boys. He could not get enough of roping and doctoring cattle. At a young age, he was a very valuable member of any doctoring situation."
The event raises funds for the Logan Van Eaton Memorial scholarship, given to a senior at Edgemont School District each year, and will help pay for a new crow's nest at the Fall River County Fairgrounds.
The youngest participant in the stray gathering, which took place Friday, was the same age Logan was upon passing. Eleven-year-old Jordy Laucomer traveled from FX Bar Ranch in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to rope in the stray gathering, his first ever, with his dad Chris. The pair tied in the first round with the team they were competing against, and had to re-rope and tie a heifer, but didn't quite go quick enough in the tie-breaker to make it to the next round.
"Just before the event started, Jordy pointed at the pictures of Logan on the program and said, 'This is so sad, it makes me want to cry,'" Jordy's mom Cary Laucomer said. "At that time, two girls came by selling the 'A legend we'll never forget' bracelets. I bought one for me and one for him. He put it on and said, 'Maybe this will bring me good luck,' and walked away to mount up. Riding in honor of Logan genuinely made this first-time experience all the more special for Jordy."
Nolan Brott and Rusty Martin took the 2018 stray gathering buckles back to Lusk, Wyoming, after dominating the 28-team bracket and roping with the fastest time of the top four finalist teams. Brott donated part of his earnings back to the event's fund. "It's pretty humbling. I was hoping someone from around there would win it, but I'm pretty proud," Brott said. "These things are always fun to go to, but it wasn't an average, ordinary stray gathering; it had meaning to it, it was special."
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Brott also placed second with another teammate Brandon Stewart.
Making the drive all the way from Nashville, Tennessee, Paul Bogart and his band fired up the stage playing their hit "George Jonesin'" and a multitude of originals and covers. Unexpectedly, Bogart's videographer shot footage of the band playing and the crowd singing and dancing for a music video that they intend to submit to CMT.
"I have never listened to live music that felt as if you could dance to every song they played," Borton said. "He has a real country sound that you do not hear on the radio nowadays. I have become a fan."
Four Three Land and Cattle and FX Bar Ranch, claimed the four buckles and prize money for their performance at the ranch rodeo. The team, comprised of JD Williams, Chris Laucomer, Boe Simmons, and Bradley Lang, won three of the four events: stray gathering, doctoring, and wild cow milking, and placed eighth in branding.
A mere point behind the leading team, Broken Arrow Ranch—JV Boldon, Travis Krein, Rusty Martin, and Brandon Moody—placed second overall at the ranch rodeo by placing second in both team doctoring and stray gathering behind Four Three. Bootheel 7–Andrew Wasserburger, Eric Wasserburger, Lane Hageman, and Hugh Hageman—and Logan's Legacy—Wyatt, Cory Borton, Boe Kottwitz, and Josh Barker—placed fourth.
Two members from another Four Three Land and Cattle team took home honors as well. Eighteen-year-old Wade Printz, who graduated this spring from Edgemont School District with Logan's older sister Avery, was awarded top hand from seven judges within the crowd. This was his first honor of this kind. Clay Ashurst received, from the same judges, the top horse honor and a cinch made by Skye Ogilvie of Cielo Cinches.
"I would say this weekend was more than overwhelming. We had an amazing turnout for our inaugural event," Jessica said. "We raised a good amount of money for an amazing cause. Logan would have been so honored by so many people showing up in his honor. Our family cannot thank everyone enough. We expect the event to be bigger and better next year, with new events coming."
While so many in the community miss Logan greatly, the first event of many was a chance to stop and remember a young cowboy who will always be a legacy in Edgemont, South Dakota.
"When Logan and Avery started coming to brandings, I sat horseback many hours with them. We would watch the gate while everyone else sorted cattle," Borton said. "We were always the first through the food line. I still have to stop myself from looking for Logan at brandings so I can put him before me in line so I am not the first one through."
"It's very hard to believe we hosted a memorial event in his honor, but we all know he is smiling down upon us," Jessica said. "We couldn't think of a better way to honor him by hosting two events he loved so dearly."