For 76 years the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department has been bringing the exciting entertainment of professional rodeo action to the area, but the past 24-hours have again emphasized the importance of the funds raised by the rodeo as the volunteers have responded to five calls – three EMS, a car fire, and a mutual aid structure fire. Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell adds that the support from the rodeo fans helps the department’s volunteers to help them in their time of need.
Despite those emergency calls, the Thursday night edition of this 76th annual event opened with clear skies in front of a second consecutive near capacity crowd and featured a patriotic ceremony where military members and first responders were honored with a special tribute by announcer Greg Simas, followed by the swearing in of nine young recruits into the United States Army. Simas then led the fans in a prayer, with the fans joining Katie Meadows in the singing of the National Anthem.
The bareback bronc riding event, which led off the action, saw a nasty “wreck” as Grant Worthington, had his bronc fall and land on top of him. A number of his fellow competitors rushed to lift the horse off him, only to see him slowly get back onto his feet. Fortunately, the horse trotted away unhurt, and Worthington, given a re-ride by the judges, got on another bronc to score 52 points. Tim Kent, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, won the go-round, scoring 72 points on a bronc named Diablo.
The steer wrestlers had a tough time as the steers brought to the competition were very big and fast. The result was that only two of the 12 competitors were able to throw their steer, with J.C. Duncan, Hazel, Kentucky, taking first on the night at 10.5 seconds, followed Chad Stoltzfus, Conowingo, Maryland posting a time of 15.6.
The 14 pairs of team ropers had some very close competition with the two top teams separated by only six-tenths of a second. Kevin Daniel, Franklin, Tennessee, a four-time qualifier to the National Finals Rodeo, and his partner, Adam Plyler, Pageland, South Carolina, roped the horns and hind legs of their steer in the fastest time of the week at 6.0 seconds. They were followed at 6.6 seconds by two Pennsylvania cowboys, Waylon Cameron from Oxford, and Scott Brown, from Mount Joy.
The cowgirls seem to be having problems “learning the ropes” in their new event as only Carol Ann Nieratko, Allentown, New Jersey, was successful in roping her calf with a time of 5.1 seconds, placing her second behind the 3.7 time by Sierra Ellsworth, Hudson Falls, New York, on opening night.
Only two tie-down ropers were successful with veteran roper J.R. Myers, Felton, Pennsylvania, who is the #1 ranked roper in the First Frontier Circuit, roping and tying his calf in 11.7, only to see a late entry, Scott Brown from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, post the same time.
The cowgirls’ barrel facing was again very closely contested with ten of the 12 ladies posting times under 16 seconds, led by Ronda Casey, Plymouth, Indiana, the defending champion from 2019 here in Gerry, with a time of 14.98, with Christina Mulford, Franklinville, New Jersey, just one hundredth of a second behind at 14.99
Due to three injuries to cowboys on opening night, the number of bull riders was depleted, and the bulls continued their dominance by dumping all seven competitors to the area floor in quick fashion, resulting in no qualified rides for the first two nights. This means that any bull rider who is successful during the next two nights can take home a lot of cash and a Montana Silversmith’s belt buckle.
Chef Bruce Gustafson and his several dozen volunteers report that they had one of their busiest nights ever with the barbeque beef dinners, serving a possible rodeo record of over 900 dinners. The dinners will be served both Friday and Saturday evenings from 5-8. The Midway will also be open at the same time.
A recent addition to the festivities comes from Dave Warren Chrysler-Jeep-Ram of Jamestown, one of the rodeo’s major sponsors, who is offering a chance for any adult fan who brings at least two non-perishable food items to the gate to win $500 each night. The food will be distributed to food banks in the County.
Saturday will feature a kids’ rodeo for ages 3-8 at 4pm in the rodeo arena where the youngsters will play rodeo related games supervised by pro cowboys and cowgirls. Prizes will be given to the best dressed little cowboy and cowgirl. Registration is at 3pm in the rodeo office. Kids must be accompanied by an adult.
The rodeo continues at 8pm both Friday and Saturday with more than 240 pro cowboys and cowgirls competing in eight rodeo events for $50,000 in prize money – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, and ever dangerous bull riding. Also featured is funnyman Keith Isley, one of the most award wining performers in rodeo history. Rodeo competitors and performers will be available for a photo and autograph session near the ticket gates following each performance.
Additional information is available on the rodeo website at www.gerryrodeo or by phone at (716) 985-4847 or 1-888-985-4847.