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  • Paul Cooley


GERRY – A standing room only crowd witnessed some of the most competitive action of the week as the Gerry Fire Department closed out the 73rd consecutive year of bringing professional rodeo to Western New York.

Highlighting the action was the performance of 18-year-old rookie Daylon Swearingen, Pifford, New York, who scored the third best bull ride of the week on Thursday night and tonight entered the bareback event and rode a bronc named Hell’s Canyon to a win in that event with a score of 83 points. Swearingen turned pro just three weeks ago and already has won three events on the rodeo circuit. Jesse Pope, Otley, Iowa was a very close second at 81 points.

The bull riders thrilled the crowd with outstanding performances with three cowboys posting scores over 80 points. Russell Jones, Ballston Spa, New York, won the event, staying atop a bull called Holly Holy for 84.5 points. Just one point behind was Eli Vastbinder, Athens, Texas at 83.5, followed by Jimmy Marten, Donahue, Iowa at 81.

The girls’ barrel racing found the going a bit slow in the damp arena dirt and no rider was able to top the 14.63 seconds mark set by Jodi Colton, Manchester, Tennessee, on opening night. The competition in this final performance, however, was extremely close as nine of the ten riders broke the 16 seconds mark with Kassie Green, Shakopee, Minnesota being the fastest at 15.13 seconds. Those nine girls were separated by only 83-hundredths of a second.

Following that competition, the fans were treated to an exhibition barrel race by Lexi Graham, age nine, and Gabby Graham, age 11, daughters of rodeo contractors Shawn and Shana Graham, who both completed the cloverleaf course in less than 18 seconds.

Painted Pony Rodeo’s steers gave most of the cowboys a rough time in the steer wrestling with only three cowboys able to throw their steers in less than 10 seconds. Donnie Endres, Elkville, Illinois, tied the best time of the week, throwing his steer in 4.5 seconds. The second-best time on the night and the third best for the week went to Jesse McPike, Bedford, Indiana at 5.3 seconds.

Houston Herbert, College Grove, Tennessee, claimed the best score for the night in the saddle bronc competition as he scored 73.5 points on his bronc, but failed to top the 78 point ride set on opening night.

A bit of light rain did not deter the tie-down ropers as three cowboys tied their calves in less than 10 seconds and were only four-tenths of a second apart. Kadin Boardman, Jackson, Missouri, was fastest at 9.3 seconds, followed by Roy Lee, Benton, Arkansas, at 9.7.

The team of Micah Eveland and Lucas Falconer, both from Backus, Minnesota, came within two-tenths of a second of tying the best mark of the week as they roped the horns and hind legs of their steer in 5.3 seconds. Keith Hanna, Henryville, Indiana, and Corey Barnett, Scottsville, Indiana, were second on the night at 6.2.

Bruce and Paul Gustafson report that they and their outstanding staff of volunteers served a record 997 of the traditional beef barbeque dinners on this closing evening. They express their thanks to Maplevale Farms for their assistance during the week.

The final contestants to win the truck sponsored by the Dave Warren Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Auto Group were unable to win the truck, but Carlene Pawlak of Fredonia won the consolation prizes - $1000 in cash, a Dave Warren cornhole game, and an original painting by local artist David Miller of Gerry. The contest raised $3200 to be split between Roswell Park Institute to be used for breast cancer research and Kallie’s Krusade for pediatric cancer research.

Because of the length of this final performance, information regarding the overall winners and the individual payouts, as well as the title of All-Around Cowboy, and other summary information for this year’s rodeo will be delayed until Monday.

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