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News and Notes from the Rodeo Trail, Nov.24

Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days announced that Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Hirsig has accepted the rodeo’s position of President and Chief Executive Officer, effective Jan. 1, 2015. Hirsig attended the University of Wyoming on a rodeo scholarship, where he qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo three times. A member of the PRCA, Hirsig is a three-time Mountain States Circuit champion steer roper. He finished sixth in the world standings in 1987, and was the 1987 Pendleton Round-Up steer roping champion. He won the CFD steer roping championship in 2002.

A group from Prineville, Ore., led by Cliff McDonald, has put together a collection of championship rodeo buckles which will be auctioned off at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, with the proceeds going to fight cancer. Among the big-name rodeo competitors who have already donated buckles to the collection, named “Champions Against Cancer,” are Trevor Brazile, Bobby Mote, Joe Beaver, Larry Mahan, Luke Branquinho, Sherry Cervi, Clint Corey, Judy Robinson, J.D. Yates, Kelly Yates, Brian Bain, Steven Peebles, Russell Cardoza, Cody Jessee, Ned Londo, Blake Knowles and Trevor Knowles.

The buckle plaque will be on display and open for bidding at the RES Equine Products booth at the South Point Casino throughout the WNFR. Proceeds from the auction will go to the St. Charles Foundation in Bend, Ore. Anyone who wishes to donate a buckle to the collection, or place a bid on it, can e-mail Denny Peckham at redrockdenny@aol.com or call 541.447.1829.

Major Holly, a Big Bend Rodeo Company horse who was selected to compete at the 1996 and 1998 National Finals Rodeo, died Nov. 17 of natural causes at the age of 27. Major Holly took Craig Latham to a share of second place in Round 3 of the 1996 NFR with an 84-point score, and then carried Jess Martin to a share of the win in Round 10 with an 83. Ironically, Flying Five Rodeo’s Major Owyhee, the latest of many colts sired by Major Holly to be selected for the WNFR – he was to make his debut at 9 years old next month – died of an intestinal malady at the company’s Ritzville, Wash., ranch earlier that same day. Major Owyhee’s last out was at the Nov. 7-8 RAM Columbia River Circuit Finals Rodeo in Yakima, Wash., where Steven Peebles rode him for 81 points and a second-place finish in the first round.

Miss Rodeo America Anniversary

On Nov. 21, the Wrangler Network debuted “Miss Rodeo America, 60 Years of Rodeo Royalty,” an in-depth documentary about the organization’s rich history that’s rooted in the sport of professional rodeo. To commemorate the 60th anniversary, former Miss Rodeo California Kadee Coffman and Miss Rodeo America 1973 Pam Minick created this exclusive program to share an inside look at the prestigious organization and explore the changes in women’s Western fashion over the past 60 years. It is available for viewing at wranglernetwork.com.

After a three-month promotion, four performers have been selected by fans to sing the national anthem at the Dec. 4-13 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Shelly Cargill, representing the open category; Caitlyn Ochsner, representing the rodeo committees (Greeley Stampede); Sheyenne Weaver, representing the youth category; and Samantha Dawn Schoenthaler, the wild card winner affiliated with Cheyenne Frontier Days, will perform before a capacity crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center. Other anthem performers include Mark Wills, Terry Fator, Lee Greenwood, Travis Tritt, Casey Jamerson and the 3rd Division Marine Aircraft Wing Band.

The Seminole Tribe PRCA Pro Rodeo Series is being launched this January with stops on three consecutive weekends in Florida through the Mason Pro Rodeo Productions company based in River Ranch, Fla. The series kicks off with the Lakeland ProRodeo Classic at the Lakeland Center (indoor) Jan. 16-17, then moves on to the Peace River Pro Rodeo Classic at the Hardee County Cattlemen’s Arena (covered) in Wauchula on Jan. 23-24 and wraps up with the Immokalee Firefighters Pro Rodeo Classic at the Seminole Youth Ranch Arena (outdoor) on Jan. 30-31. In addition to the prize money being offered at each event, the contestants who compete at all three rodeos will be eligible for trophy saddles and buckles awarded to the high-money winners after the completion of the series finale, which is a fundraiser to benefit the Immokalee Volunteer Firefighters.

The Cheyenne Frontier Days General Committee has announced that musical acts Big & Rich, Aerosmith, Alabama and Toby Keith will join the 2015 Frontier Nights lineup, to go along with Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban – whose performances were announced on July 26. Tickets are currently on sale for all performances.

The RAM Columbia River Circuit announced its year-end awards, which included the Coulee City (Wash.) Last Stand Rodeo winning Small Rodeo of the Year, and the Canby (Ore.) Rodeo being named Large Rodeo of the Year. The top stock awards for the circuit season included Flying 5/Big Bend Rodeo’s bareback horse Cajun Queen and saddle bronc horse Spring Planting. The top bull was Corey & Lange/Flying Diamond Rodeo’s Mr. Buddy.

Three students were awarded Pursuit of Excellence scholarship funds in 2014 by Montana Silversmiths. Pursuit of Excellence Scholarships are awarded for efforts in self-improvement, setting and achieving goals, being involved in a Western way of life, possessing strong sportsmanship skills and being involved in the community. The recipients were Benjamin Reed of Joliet, Mont., Samantha Hurst of Lenexa, Kan., and Ben Michael Butt of Maquoketa, Iowa. “This scholarship is unique in that, along with educational improvements and community support, it celebrates the student that desires to become the best that they can be,” said Judy Wagner, Vice President of Marketing at Montana Silversmiths.

Mike Southwick, a former president of the Lehi (Utah) Rodeo, died Nov. 20. He was 82. Southwick was very much involved with the Lehi Civic Improvement Association (Lehi Rodeo), serving as a member for more than 50 years. Recently, Mike and his wife, Shirley, were inducted into the Lehi City Walk of Fame for their contributions to the community. Funeral services will be held Nov. 25 at 11 a.m. at the Lehi Stake Center, 200 North Center.

Raymond D. Souder, a former committeeman for the Tiffin (Ohio) Rodeo, died Nov. 23. He was 90. Funeral services are pending.

Courtesy of PRCA