News and Notes from the Rodeo Trail, Sept.26

by | Sep 26, 2016

Les Johnson, who qualified for the inaugural National Finals Rodeo in saddle bronc riding, passed away Aug. 31, at his home Visalia, Calif. He was 84. Johnson finished second in the NFR average in 1959 with a score of 1,768 points on 10 head. He placed 11th in the world standings with $9,755. Johnson also was a three-time saddle bronc riding champion at the St. Paul (Ore.) Rodeo (1956, 1958 and 1960). He was inducted into the St. Paul Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2011.

Edgar (Buster) Franklin Berry, a PRCA Gold Card member and father of ProRodeo Hall of Fame steer wrestler Ote Berry and PRCA steer wrestler Wade Berry, passed away Sept. 21. He was 83. Berry was living in Gordon, Neb., and was formerly of Scenic, S.D.

Mal Wessel, a rodeo advocate and the Barstow, Calif., mayor who coined the phrase the “Little city with a big heart,” died Sept. 16 at the age of 83. “I think he did more for Barstow than anybody I know,” longtime friend Leonard Purdy said. Wessel served on the city council from 1986 to 1991, and as mayor 1991-96. But he and wife Connie were also well-known for their big hearts. The Wessels were part of the group that initially started the Barstow Rodeo almost 30 years ago, and was PRCA-sanctioned for 22 years.

Bull rider Steve Woolsey, a six-time qualifier for the Wrangler NFR, suffered a nasal fracture and lacerations while competing at the Amarillo (Texas) Tri-State Fair and Rodeo Sept. 22. As a result of the injury, Woolsey took a 30-day doctor release.

A new initiative was implemented at the American Royal Rodeo Sept. 23-24 in Kansas City, Mo., as attendees were asked to bring nonperishable food. The food drive benefitted Harvesters – the Community Food Network to help people in the Kansas City area. Bayer, a major corporate sponsor of the rodeo, added its own employee collection campaign in Shawnee (Okla.) to the effort.

The Garfield County (Colo.) commissioners recently reappointed three members of the county fair board to new three-year terms. Commissioners reappointed Levy Burris, Rick Shaffer and Eileen Sheets, all current members of the nine-member board, which works with county staff to promote and produce the Garfield County Fair and Rodeo in Rifle each year, according to the fair board’s mission statement.

Dr. Larry Frugoli, DMD of Cosmetic & Restoration Dentistry, has been named 2016-17 president of the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo Foundation’s board of trustees. Other officers elected to the board were: Jeff Turnipseed, vice president; Laura Tadman, treasurer; Sharon Smith, secretary; and Clara Andriola, executive director. Also elected to the board were: John Breternitz, Ray Callahan, Pete Ernaut, Debra Herman, Michael Lee, Hon. Ron Parraguirre, Nevada Supreme Court Justice; Scott Peterson, 2016 Reno Rodeo Association president; Hon. Jack Schroeder, senior judge; Brad Sidener, 2017 Reno Rodeo Association president; Mike Torvinen and Howard Weiss.

The Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo returns Oct. 6-15 in Waco, Texas. The fair runs from Oct. 6-15, and there will be “plenty of variety,” according to Charva Ingram, marketing director for the HOT Fair & Rodeo, “In addition to all of the familiar attractions, there’s something new every night, from the first 500 promotional giveaways to the local talent on the Hometown Stage,” she said. “The 2016 fair is packed full.” The All American ProRodeo Finals take place Oct. 8-9, 11-15.

The Days of ’76 Museum and Historic Adams House, in Deadwood, S.D., opened their doors in recognition of Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live! On Sept. 24. Visitors at the Days of ’76 Museum got to see the new carriage collection, showcasing more than 30 horse-drawn carriages from the 1800’s to early 1900’s. Meanwhile, the Adams House and Museum tells the tale of Deadwood’s founders. Rose Speirs, the communications director at Deadwood History Inc., said, “It really focuses on the story of Deadwood and the Black Hills. Especially the Adams Museum. It tells an encompassing story. The Days of ’76 Museum really honors the Days of ’76 celebration and rodeo.”

I’m kind of from the country. I’m not really big on being in the city for 14 days. I’m just going there and focusing on trying to win the gold buckle.

– Jeff Askey, who grew up in Pennsylvania and now lives in Athens, Texas, talking about his upcoming first trip to the Wrangler National Finals presented by Polaris RANGER in Las Vegas.

Courtesy of PRCA