By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
The 37th annual Pioneer Days PRCA Rodeo in Clovis, which begins Thursday, is hardly the only rodeo in the country going on this weekend. But it’s the only one that matters to the Curry County Mounted Patrol, and organizers are pleased with the quality of contestants competing over the three days of the event.
“We’ve got some world champions, ex-world champions and everything else coming,” said Mounted Patrol treasurer Bob Lacy, who is also excited about the non-human participants as well.
“We’ve got a good set of cowboys coming and the bucking stock was all bucked out at Houston at the biggest rodeo in the country (in March). It’s the same livestock,” he added.
Last year’s all-around PRCA champ, Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, is entered in the Pioneer Day’s Rodeo for calf (tiedown) roping and team roping. Brazile, in fact, has won the all-around title in four of the last five years and the only man to unseat him, Ryan Jarrett of Summerville, Georgia, is also competing in calf-roping in Clovis. Jarrett was all-around champ in 2005.
Bullriding world champ Cody Hancock, from Taylor, Ariz., will also be at the competition, which includes over 300 contestants.
“There’s always several rodeos. This particular weekend, there’s probably 21 or 22 rodeos going on, so those competitors will work like a Thursday night and then they’ll go down the road,” Mounted Patrol captain Rusty Barnes said. “They’re trying to hit as many of them as they can.
“I’m pleased. You’d always like to have the top 15 in each event, but that just doesn’t happen,” Barnes added.
Top area cowboys and cowgirls are also part of the Pioneer Days rodeo picture as Hereford’s Monty Lewis, the ’05 calf-roping champ, will compete on Thursday night. Portales’ J.D. Kibbe, originally from Des Moines, is currently ranked 19th in calf-roping and fellow Portales entrant Stetson Herrera is 21st in bareback by the PRCA.
In barrel racing, Brittany Bennett of Portales will compete. Recently, Bennett won the Southwest Region intercollegiate title while competing for Texas Tech.
Other popular rodeo activities, including three-man wild cow milking, will be part of the festivities.
“(Rodeo clown) Leon Coffey’s supposed to be here, but I heard through the grapevine just today that he may be sick, so I don’t know,” Lacy said. “We’ll find out, but he’s supposed to be here as the barrel man.”
While the area has gotten regular nightly rain showers, Barnes says that the rodeo will go on whatever the weather conditions. He adds, however, that the dirt floor at the Mounted Patrol Arena is in good shape for those actually out competing on it.
“It’s got the type of soil that it can rain a half-inch or so in the next day, but if the sun comes out it dries real quick,” Barnes said.
The rodeo begins at 8 p.m. each evening with tickets ranging from $10 to $12 per person. Prior to the opening performance on Thursday, the so-called “Rodeo Encounter” — giving children the chance to learn rodeo techniques from the professionals — will begin at 5:30 p.m.