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  • Paul Cooley


Four cowboys who have competed in the Gerry Fire Department’s annual pro rodeo had outstanding performances at the recent National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas where total prize money was $10 million.

Highlighting the bareback event was Tim O’Connell, who won this event in Gerry two years ago, as he rode all ten of his broncs during the nationally televised event and earned his second consecutive World Championship. O’Connell, who hails from Zwingle, Iowa, totaled $371,000 in prize money for the year.

The saddle back event had three former Gerry competitors place in the top ten. Jacobs Crawley placed fifth with season earnings of $233,000, barely edging out his brother Sterling Crawley, who was sixth with $215,000. The Crawley brothers make their home in Stephenville, Texas. Heflin, Louisiana’s, Cody DeMoss, who also has won in Gerry, placed tenth with his season’s earnings totaling $155,000.

The National Finals Rodeo consists of the seven traditional rodeo events and runs for ten consecutive nights. To qualify, a cowboy or cowgirl (barrel racing) must be in the top 15 money winners in each event in rodeos across the nation during the year. Money won at the NFR is then added to the year’s total to determine the World Champion, each of whom receives a handmade saddle and a gold belt buckle in addition to his or her earnings.

Other highlights of the NFR included the performance of Sage Kimsey, from Strong City, Texas, who won his fourth consecutive gold buckle in the bull riding and, combined with his NFR winnings, took home $436,000 for the season. The crowd favorite for the event was 19-year-old Ryder Wright, who rode all ten of his saddle broncs and went home to Milford, Utah, with his first gold buckle and a total of $284,000 for the season.

The 74th annual Gerry Rodeo is set for four performances, August 1-4, with more than 200 professional cowboys and cowgirls competing for more than $45,000 in prize money. This is now the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi, and all proceeds benefit the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. Additional information is available at the website

Photo: Bareback bronc rider Tim O’Connell, who has competed in the annual Gerry Rodeo, won his second World Championship last week at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

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