Gerry- As the Gerry rodeo moves into its 71st consecutive year of competition August 5-8, the rodeo committee is continuing its relationship with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell says this sanctioning under guidelines and rules of the PRCA gives the best chance for fans to enjoy a truly professional rodeo while protecting both the contestants and the animals involved. All contestants must be members of the PRCA to compete in Gerry.
The PRCA, headquartered in Colorado Springs oversees more than 600 rodeos each year in 37 states and three Canadian provinces and culminates with the televised national Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December. Their membership includes over 7000 cowboys and performers, with 5300 of those still active in competition. Membership is open to anyone 18 or older who applies for a temporary permit at a cost of $300. The cowboy then is eligible for a permanent membership after winning at least $1000 in competition and paying $500 per year in dues which includes insurance in case of injury.
The PRCA is the largest rodeo sanctioning body in the world and sets high standards for the contestants and the animals involved. For instance, their rules for care of the animals is spelled out in a 237 page book, which requires a veterinarian to be on site at all rodeos and does not permit any animal to be used in competition on consecutive days. The care of the stock is of primary importance as the scoring for a cowboy in the bronc and bull riding events is based 50% on the performance of the animal. For this reason, top ranked horses and bulls can cost $20,000 or more. For instance, Painted Pony Pro Rodeo, the stock contractor for the Gerry rodeo, recently paid $25,000 for one bull named “Million Dollar Man”.
Rodeo is now seventh highest in attendance in spectator sports, ahead of golf and tennis, with more than 30 million fans in the arenas last year, with the total money paid out to contestants last year exceeding $40 million. PRCA reports that in their history they have seen more than 80 cowboys surpass the one million dollar mark in lifetime winnings in spite of the fact that each competitor must pay his own expenses and pay an entry fee for each rodeo.
Not only is pro rodeo growing, but there are now 137 colleges sponsoring rodeo teams with 3600 student participants. On a high school level, there are teams in 41 states and Canada with more than 12,000 students competing in 1100 rodeos each year.
The Gerry rodeo runs for four nights, August 5 through 8 with more than 200 pro cowboys and cowgirls competing for $45,000 in prize money in the seven rodeo events. In addition the event features the famous beef barbeque dinners daily beginning at 5:00 PM. Complete information is available at the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org and by phone at (716) 985-4847 or toll free at 1-888-985-4847.
Photo: These four-legged rodeo stars await their eight seconds of work at the Gerry rodeo and then will head for the pasture for the PRCA’s mandated two days of rest.