By Paul Cooley
Four of the top bronc riders in the World Rankings will be among the record setting number of 192 pro cowboys and cowgirls who will be competing for more than $45,000 in prize money when the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department opens the gates for the first night of five performances at the 70th annual PRCA rodeo on Wednesday, July 28.
Texan Jacobs Crawley will compete in the saddle bronc event at the Gerry Rodeo after winning nearly $80,000 in 2013 and placing fourth in the World Rankings.
The contestants, who hail from 26 states and Quebec, include brothers from Texas, saddle bronc riders Jacobs and Sterling Crawley, who are currently at seventh and eleventh in the World Rankings, as well as nine-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and 2012 World Champion, Cody DeMoss.
Last year's NFR Rookie of the Year, Tim O'Connell, who is at number eight in the bareback rankings, will test his skills in that event. Competing in the ladies' barrel racing is Taylor Jacobs, who holds the arena record at the nationally televised NFR in Las Vegas.
After opening night, the Gerry rodeo will have performances at 8:00 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as well as a 2:00 matinee on Saturday afternoon featuring the seven traditional rodeo events: saddle bronc and bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, cowgirls barrel racing, and the ever dangerous bull riding.
This year's specialty act features Hollywood Harris as the clown and barrel man. He is a veteran of 30 years of entertaining fans in rodeo arenas across the country with his unique brand of humor. Announcer Greg Simas, fresh off his first appearance ever at the National Finals Rodeo, is returning to emcee the performances from horseback.
Another highlight of the week is the famous barbeque beef dinner with the beef roasted over outdoor wood fires and served with all the trimmings beginning at 5:00 in the modern air-conditioned dining room. The lighted midway, featuring more than 20 vendors with everything from cotton candy, fried dough, taffy, and western wear, is open before and after each show.
Kids are not forgotten as those from three to eight years of age are invited to a free Kids' Rodeo at 11:00 Saturday morning with registration beginning at 10:00. Participants will receive a rodeo back tag, a bandana, and a certificate with silver belt buckles awarded to the best dressed cowboy and cowgirl. In addition each show will feature a calf scramble with kids chasing calves, hoping to capture ribbons tied to the calves' tails. Eight and six-year old Gabby and Lexi Graham, daughters of the Painted Pony Pro Rodeo contractors, Shawn and Shana Graham, will sing the National Anthem to open each performance.
All proceeds benefit the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department in their efforts as they respond to approximately 350 rescue and fire calls annually. Additional rodeo information is available by phone at 1-888-985-4847 or 716-985-4847 or on line at www.gerryrodeo.org