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  • Paul Cooley


Updated: Mar 18, 2019

GERRY - Head judge Wayde Ellsworth’s report said, “This rodeo is a quality rodeo to represent the PRCA”. He added that the rodeo committee and the fire department do an excellent job in coordinating all aspects of the event, the arena conditions were excellent, and the specialty act, bull fighters, and announcer were all very good.

Ellsworth, who works as a judge in approximately 80 rodeo performances each year, has been coming to Gerry for more than 30 years, first as a competitor in tie-down roping and steer wrestling, and now as a judge. He rates Gerry as one of his favorite stops, adding that the Gerry rodeo is “as good as any in the country”.

He and fellow judges, Roger Walter and Raul Rodriguez, are among 150 certified judges nationwide and are assigned by the PRCA after undergoing extensive training which must be updated every two years. Their job is similar to that of a referee in any professional sport as they determine scores in the rough stock events – bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riding where half of the score is determined by the performance of the cowboy and half by the animal’s performance. They do the timing in each of the other events as well as determining whether any of the rules developed by the PRCA for each event are broken.

Their duties also include arriving several hours before each performance to inspect the arena, check on the welfare of the animals, and insure that a veterinarian is on duty. They have the authority to disqualify any competitor who mistreats an animal.

Ellsworth says he loves what he does and plans to continue as long as it is fun. Even though he is in the middle of the action, he has avoided serious injuries although he was once run over by a bronc and has had to climb the arena fence on a number of occasions. He says cowboys sometimes question the judges’ scores and decisions, but he calls that “just a part of the job”.

Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell says that the positive report by the judges confirms the excellent year-long efforts of the rodeo committee and the nearly 200 volunteers. He rates this past rodeo “one of the best in recent years” as nearly 8000 fans saw more than 200 cowboys and cowgirls from 32 states take home more than $50,000 in prize money. In addition, nearly 3000 barbeque beef dinners were sold.

The rodeo committee is already making plans for next summer to celebrate the 75th consecutive annual rodeo in Gerry, scheduled for four performances, July 31 through August 3, with special events for what is the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi. All proceeds benefit the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. Additional information is available at the website

Photo: Veteran rodeo judge Wayde Ellsworth takes a quick break from his official duties at the Gerry Rodeo. Photo by Sharon Atwell.

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