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  • Paul Cooley


It happens almost like magic! Anyone driving through this small town on Route 60 a couple of days ago might wonder that this tiny town is called "Rodeo City”. All they would see is 40 deserted acres of grass, several red and white buildings, an empty arena and bleachers, and a big barn sporting the letters “Gerry Rodeo” on the front.

This morning the entire scene has been transformed in a matter of a few short hours. The dirt of the arena has been groomed, banners are hung, more than 100 head of rodeo stock are grazing in the pastures, the bucking chutes have been assembled at both ends of the arena, while several dozen RV’s, horse trailers, and pick-up trucks fill the adjacent fields.

Nearby, more than twenty tents offering vendors’ wares of all sorts, as well as attractions for the kids, line the midway while the delicious smell of beef being cooked over open wood fire floats across the entire scene.

It all means only one thing – Gerry is living up to its name as the Rodeo Capital of the East as the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department kicks off the opening night of their 75thconsecutive PRCA rodeo, featuring 224 pro cowboys and cowgirls from more than 30 states competing for $50,000 in prize money in the seven traditional rodeo events.

Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell promises this to be “the biggest and best ever” with ideal

weather predicted and outstanding competitors and performers appearing for the four nightly performances beginning tonight at 8:00 and continuing through Saturday at their site 15 miles north of Jamestown, New York. Each show will end with fireworks to help celebrate this historic event.

Heading the contestants is three-time World Champion and the current reigning champion bareback bronc rider Tim O’Connell from Zwingle, Iowa. In that same event is Shane O’Connell (no relation) from Rapid City, South Dakota, who is currently ranked in the top 25 in the world standings.

The bull riding event features two nationally known cowboys, Jake Brown of Cleveland, Texas, who is a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and Garrett Tribble from Slick, Oklahoma, currently in the top 15 in the world.

The ladies are not to be outdone as Sherlyn Johnson, Henrietta, Oklahoma, has qualified four times for the NFR in barrel racing and Tiany Schuster, Crumb, Texas, has qualified for that Las Vegas event on three occasions.

Veteran Greg Simas returns for the seventh year to emcee the event from horseback, fresh off an appearance at the Million Dollar Tour Event in Spanish Fork, Utah, one of his more than 50 rodeos this year. Keith Isley, one of rodeo’s most highly decorated performers, brings his outstanding comedy and his specialty acts featuring three trained horses, as well as serving as the barrel man during the bull riding

The traditional barbeque beef dinners cooked outdoors over wood fires will be served with all the trimmings beginning at 5:00 each evening in the air-conditioned dining hall. About 3000 dinners will be served. The lighted midway will open at the same time. A free kids’ rodeo will be held in the arena at 4:00 on Saturday for ages 3-8

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