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  • Paul Cooley


GERRY – A record 251 professional cowboys and cowgirls from 34 states have registered with the PRCA headquarters to compete in next week’s 73rd annual Gerry Fire Department’s rodeo, scheduled for four performances, Wednesday through Saturday, August 2-5, at 8:00 PM.

Included in the competitors are a number of nationally ranked cowboys. Headlining that group is saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss, Crowville, La., who has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas twelve times and whose career earnings top $2 million. Bull rider Eli Vastbinder from Statesville, N.C., is quickly making a name for himself in his event and is currently ranked in the top 25 in the world. He comes to Gerry having ridden an outstanding 67% of the bulls he has been on this season.

The team roping event will feature some of the world’s best with the team of Brad Culpepper, Tifton, Ga., who is a seven-time NFR qualifier and has exceeded $1 million in winnings, and Kevin Daniel, Franklin, Tenn., who has been to the NFR four times. Also, competing in that event Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., who has qualified for the NFR on nine occasions.

A young Texas cowboy, Jace Melvin, comes into Gerry on a hot streak, competing in two events, steer wrestling and tie-down roping, as he has won the “All-around” title in six rodeos this summer. This award goes to the cowboy who wins the most money while competing in at least two events.

The total entries for each event are as follows: bareback bronc 22; saddle bronc eight; bull riding  24: team roping 39 teams; steer wrestling 41; tie-down roping 23; and barrel racing 68.

These cowboys and cowgirls will be competing for more than $45,000 in prize money with $5,000 guaranteed for each event. This prize money comes from the fire department, rodeo sponsors, and from entry fees paid by each entrant. The entry fees range from $80 for the saddle and bareback events to $225 for the team roping. In addition to those entry fees, the cowboys and cowgirls pay their own expenses and leave empty-handed if they do not place in their event.

This rodeo is now the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi with proceeds going to the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department, which answers more than 300 fire and rescue calls each year. The event also features the traditional beef barbeque dinners served each day at 5:00, a lighted midway with more than 20 vendors offering everything from Western wear to cotton candy, and a free kids’ rodeo on Saturday at 4:00. The rodeo, like football, goes on rain or shine.

Additional information is available at the rodeo website or by phone at (716) 985-4847 or 1-888-985-4847.

Photo: Twelve-time National Finals Rodeo saddle bronc qualifier Cody DeMoss is among the 251 competitors registered for next week’s Gerry PRCA rodeo.

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