The opening performance of the 75thannual Gerry Rodeo began with special proclamations honoring this historic event from the New York State Assembly and the United States House of Representatives. Veteran announcer Greg Simas then honored all veterans in the audience, followed by prayer and the national anthem, and the Grand Entry with more than 100 cowboys and cowgirls circling the arena on horseback.
The bareback bronc event kicked off the night’s competition with five cowboys posting scores, led by an 82.5 score by Eli Hershberger of Pifford, New York. Three-time world champion Tim O’Connell, recovering from reconstructive shoulder surgery, traveled from Iowa to take second with 81 points. Bad luck followed Jesse Pope, from Marshall, Missouri, who flew into Pittsburgh today and arrived in Gerry shortly before the start of the rodeo, only to get bucked from his horse. However, his love for his sport takes him back to Pittsburgh tonight to fly to Montana for a rodeo tomorrow, his fifth rodeo in a week.
The saddle bronc cowboys all had successful rides with Will Stites, Jonestown, Pennsylvania, posting the high score of 76 points, while Trey Watts, Fairhope, Alabama, was second at 74. Jace Allen Angus, Falon, Nevada, a military member who is awaiting his orders for sniper school, was close behind at 73 points.
An 18-year-old, Colton Swearingen from Pifford, New York, claimed first place in the steer wrestling, throwing his steer to the arena dirt in 7.4 seconds. There was a tie for second place between Matt Fisher, Edwards, Ontario, and Noel Strahan, Bonfield, Illinois, at 8.3 seconds.
Only two teams had qualified times in the team roping with two Western New York ropers, Ty Bargar and Drew Carnes from Hornell posting the very fast time of 5.5 seconds, The other successful time was posted by another New York team, the father and son duo of Carmine Nastri and Cooper Nastri from Ballston Spa.
The tie-down ropers had a tough time on the night as only one roper was able to successfully lasso and tie his calf with Zmann Zamora, Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, a Florida state high school champion, having a quick time of 10.3 seconds.
Competition was fast and close in the cowgirls’ barrel racing as five of the ten competitors broke the 16 second barrier, but Wendy Chesnut left the others far behind as she posted a time of 14.65 seconds to win the event easily.
In the final event of the night, the Painted Pony bulls failed to post a shutout as three cowboys held on for the required eight seconds. Mike Adams, Union Bridge, Maryland scored 79 points on his bull while two Missouri cowboys, Quentin Vaught from Crane and Cole Fischer, Jefferson City had scores of 78 and 73 respectively.
Rodeo clown and specialty act performer Keith Isley put on a spectacular performance as he went into the stands to interact with the fans and kept them laughing with his family-oriented humor. His palomino horse named Easy put on one of the best animal acts ever seen here as the horse refused to obey Isley’s commands and would do just the opposite. Isley promises a different act each night.
The evening’s festivities culminated with a brilliant fireworks display which will follow the shows for each of the remaining three nights of rodeo. Tonight’s rodeo performance will offer reduced prices for military and first responders with proper identification.
Head chef Bruce Gustafson and his wife Paul and their staff report that they served approximately 700 traditional beef dinners on this opening night. The dinners will be served each evening through Saturday beginning at 5:00 in their air-conditioned dining hall.
The rodeo action continues tonight with additional performances on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 in the arena five miles north of Jamestown on Route 60 with more than 200 pro cowboys and cowgirls from 32 states across the nation competing for more than $50,000 in prize money. Fans will thrill to action in the seven traditional rodeo events – bareback and saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie -down roping, team roping, cowgirls’ barrel racing, and the ever-dangerous bull riding.
This rodeo is now the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi with all proceeds benefitting the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department in their efforts to provide fire and emergency responses for the area.