GERRY – A capacity crowd filled the stands on the opening performance of the 77th annual Gerry Fire Department’s PRCA rodeo to watch a record number of cowboys and cowgirls whom announcer Greg Simas called the world’s most dedicated athletes as they pay their own expenses, pay an entry fee to compete, and leave with nothing unless they win.
Rodeo has always placed an emphasis on patriotism and faith, and Simas began the evening’s festivities with prayer followed by the National Anthem, and the Grand Entry with all the competitors circling the arena on horseback prior to the start of the competition.
The very physically demanding bareback bronc riding event kicked off the action with three cowboys making successful rides. Kade Sonnier from Carencro, Louisiana, scored 82 points aboard a bronc named Spots and Dots for the top spot with Carl Bernier, Lake Luzerne, New York, placed second with 74 points.
The ten steer wrestlers, who each paid a $100 entry fee had little success in throwing their steers to the arena dirt as the steers seemed unusually fast. Only Terrek Keller of Fredonia, Pennsylvania, was able to leap from his speeding horse, grab his steer by the horns, and wrestle it to the ground in a very fast 5.5 seconds.
Terry Shetron, Newville, Pennsylvania, and his partner, Michael Tash, Dinwiddie, Virginia, teamed up to take first place in the team roping with a time of 13.1 seconds. They were followed closely by Jimmy Healy, Jr. and Casey Cox. both from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, with a time of 13.67. Unfortunately, six teams, who each paid a $300 entry fee, failed in their attempts to win money.
Six of the ten cowgirl breakaway ropers posted times by roping their calves, with Shawnee Sherwood, who traveled across the country from San Tan Valley, Arizona, posting the fastest at 3.1 seconds. She was followed closely by Tori Roberto, Swedesboro, New Jersey, at 4.9 seconds.
Five saddle bronc riders made successful rides with Isaac Richard traveling from Eunice, Louisiana, to take the top spot with a 74.5 point ride on Painted Pony’s Coy Boy. Will Stiles, Jonestown, Pennsylvania, took second with 72 points.
The tie-down ropers were at the top of their game as eight ropers successfully roped and tied their calves with Jerry Easler of Jennings, Florida, leading the way with an 8.9 second time. Second place went to a Texas cowboy, Trent Turner at 10.6.
The cowgirls barrel racing saw three girls post times under 16 seconds. Dawn Powell, Dansville, New York, had the fastest time around the cloverleaf pattern barrels at 15.55 seconds, followed closely by Bobbie Jo Barber, Lake Luzerne, New York, at 15.88.
Bullfighters Phil Hussmann and Jesse Griswold were kept exceptionally busy protecting the cowboys as the hot weather seemed to make the Painted Pony bulls angry as they tossed all 12 cowboys to the dirt, several of them in quick and dangerous fashion. Fortunately, all the riders will be back to ride again.
The rodeo continues tonight, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. with all eight traditional rodeo events. The kitchen crew reports serving about 700 barbecue dinners on opening night and will continue to offer the dinners in the air-conditioned dining room from 5-8 each day through Saturday. The midway with about 20 vendors will be opening at 5 each day.
Rodeo fans are reminded of the special tonight for military and first responders who will be admitted for $10 with a valid ID Tickets must be purchased at the rodeo office.
Additional information is available on the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org or by phone at 716-985-4847 0r 1-888-985-4847.