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  • Paul Cooley


GERRY - For Shawn and Shana Graham, owners of Painted Pony Championship Rodeo and contractors for the Gerry Fire Department’s 74th annual rodeo, Wednesday through Saturday this week, rodeo has been a passion for their entire lives.

Shana was raised on a thoroughbred horse farm near Warrensburg, NY, where she was active in 4H. Following high school she began competing in barrel racing and break away roping. This led her to a job in the office at Painted Pony Rodeo in Lake Lucerne. Meantime, Shawn was attending rodeos at Painted Pony, where his father was one of the original rodeo clowns in the 70’s. Shawn also competed as a bull rider and saddle bronc rider.

In 2001 Jack McCue, the owner of Painted Pony Rodeo, decided to sell, and Shawn, who was buying and leasing bulls to various rodeos, took a “big step” and became the new owner. Although Shana and Shawn had attended the same high school, they were not well acquainted, but a romance developed at Painted Pony, and they were married in 2004.

Together they have made great strides in developing their rodeo business. They currently have their home site in Lake Lucerne, where they hold three rodeo performances a week from July 4th through Labor Day and serve a Texas style barbeque as a part of each performance. In addition, they have branched out to produce more than 40 rodeos each year with their travels taking them from Maine to Florida to Las Vegas. They now own more than 100 horses, 50 bulls, as well as calves and steers, bringing their total to nearly 300 head of stock.

Their love for rodeo has carried over to their three children, who travel with them and will be here in Gerry for the week. Gabby, 12 years old, has been named Lil’ Miss Rodeo First Frontier and is already seriously training as a barrel racer. Lexi is 10 and served as Lil’ Miss Painted Pony Rodeo this past year. She is also involved in barrel racing. The youngest, Trevor, is nine and has his sights set on being a bull rider as he recently has ridden his first calves in events for young cowboys.

The Graham family and their stock will roll into Gerry for the ninth year with four performances scheduled for this week, Wednesday through Saturday, August 1- 4 at 8:00 PM in the arena six miles north of Jamestown on Route 60. Approximately 225 pro cowboys and cowgirls are expected to vie for more than $45,000 in prize money.

The traditional beef barbeque dinners will be served each evening beginning at 5:00 in the air-conditioned dining hall. The midway with more than 20 vendors featuring everything from cotton candy to Western wear also opens at 5:00.

This is now the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi with all proceeds benefitting the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. Additional information is available at the rodeo website or by phone at (716) 985 4847 or 1-888-985-4947.

Photo: The Graham family will again be the stock contractors for the 74th annual Gerry Rodeo this week. Clockwise from top left: Shana, Shawn, Lexi, Gabby, and Trevor.

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