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News & Notes from the Rodeo Trail, Feb. 17

The Wrangler Network will be air live webcasts of the final two performances of the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, Miss., Feb. 17-18, at 7:30 p.m. (CT) each night. The 50th annual Dixie National is the largest professional rodeo east of the Mississippi River, and features some of the best cowboys in the world. It has been nominated by the PRCA’s membership as one of the top five “Large Indoor Rodeo Committees of The Year” for the past five years.

Comedian Eddie Murphy is working on an animated film called “Bodacious,” which is based (loosely) on Andrews Rodeo’s two-time PRCA Bull of the Year, telling the story of a champion rodeo bull whose son is the heir apparent, “His father is like the greatest rodeo bull in the history and like broke everybody’s face and neck,” Murphy said in an interview with Playboy magazine. “He’s the king of the rodeo and it’s a story about an overachieving dad who wants his son to be just like him, and (the son) who wants to do his own thing. It’s from the animal’s perspective.” Murphy is producing the film and will be the voice of Bodacious; he’s projecting that it will be ready for release in two or three years.

Rapid City, S.D., voters will decide on March 10 whether to green light a proposed $180 million expansion of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, the single biggest expenditure in city history. The project would nearly double the size of the facility, which is home each year to the Black Hills Stock Show Rodeo and a PRCA Xtreme Bulls Tour event. “This building was designed back in the ’70s,” Jeff Bailie, Civic Center board chairman, told KOTA-TV. “It was predominantly designed with one thing in mind: to get the state high school basketball (tournament) to Rapid City. We didn’t design it for the Black Hills Stock Show Rodeo. We have a 40-year-old facility that needs some major attention, and it’s going to come at a cost.”

The Rotary Rodeo, which just wrapped up its 11th annual event over the weekend, is the Starkville, Miss., Rotary Club’s largest fundraiser, bringing in nearly $20,000 a year to fund its numerous local philanthropies. In recent years, the proceeds have been used to support the Tuition Guarantee Program that helps high school graduates from Oktibbeha County attend East Mississippi Community College tuition free. Rotary Club board member Trey Breckenridge said it will take about another week for the club to know the amount of money raised this year. According to Breckenridge, money made this year will likely go into supporting a variety of the Rotary Club’s programs as opposed to a single effort such as the Tuition Guarantee Program. “This is by no means a complete list, but the funds will support things like Boy Scouts and Habitat for Humanity,” Breckenridge said.

Two new photo exhibits are opening at the Arizona History Museum, just in time for the 90th annual La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson – “Textured Portraits: Ken Blackbird’s Rodeo Photography,” from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and “The Eight Second Ride-Live it, Love it! – Tucson Rodeo and More!” The majority of the Tucson Rodeo photos were taken by the late Louise Serpa, an internationally acclaimed photographer and resident of Tucson who received the PRCA Excellence in Rodeo Photography award in 2005.

Two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo bull rider Phillip Elkins was inducted into the inaugural class of the Hill College Sports Hall of Fame Feb. 6 during ceremonies at the Vara Martin Daniel Performing Arts Center in Hillsboro, Texas. Elkins arrived at Hill College in 1992 after winning the North Texas High School Rodeo Association bull riding title. He competed for Hill College his freshman year, helping the school finish ninth in the national team standings. A year later, Elkins was crowned the NIRA National Champion Bull Rider – the first national title in Hill College rodeo history. After leaving Hillsboro, Elkins continued riding professionally and qualified for the WNFR in 2000 and 2001. He won the average crown at the WNFR in 2000 and was reserve world champion, finishing just $4,474 behind Cody Hancock; he finished fifth in the world the following year.

Neal Reid, former editor of the ProRodeo Sports News, has been hired as the Media Relations Manager for Las Vegas Motor Speedway and will start work there March 16. Reid joined the PSN staff as a writer in the fall of 2004 and was elevated to the position of Managing Editor the following August, a position he held with great distinction through 2010 when he left to start his own free-lance reporting business. He was part of the Olympic and Paralympic News Service teams for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The Crosby (Texas) Fair & Rodeo Association held its fourth annual Bras for the Cause event Feb. 7 at the David H. McNerney American Legion Hall and raised more than $151,000 to benefit families fighting cancer by paying qualifying patients’ third-party bills. Proceeds benefit the Pink Heals Endowment and the American Cancer Society. The Pink Heals Patient Assistance Fund was established at Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital Cancer Center in January 2011 after hosting the inaugural Baytown Pink Heals event on Oct. 8, 2010, which reported proceeds of more than $18,000. Each year since then, the event has continued to grow in success.

The second annual Chicks N Chaps event at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson is scheduled Feb. 22, allowing women who want an opportunity to learn more about the Cowboy Sport to get a day-long primer while also benefiting cancer research. “Chicks N Chaps is an insider’s look at rodeo, so if you’ve never rodeoed and you don’t know anything country, it is a great way to experience something you are not going to experience anywhere else,” event participant Samantha Bivens told the Arizona Daily Star. “I am a big supporter of local traditions. Tie that in with fighting breast cancer and you have two things that are too good to pass up.”

The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame is hosting its annual meeting and western expo in Dickinson, Feb. 20-21, at the Ramada Grand Dakota Hotel. More than 200 delegates are expected to attend. A banquet and fundraising auction will be held Feb. 21, with the Outlaw Sippin’ Band performing after the auction. The hall’s mission is to preserve the history and promote the culture of North Dakota’s Native American, ranching and rodeo communities by educating people about the state’s western heritage.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The bull riders come out here and they get on one bull and I’ve got 20 of them to play with.”

– PRCA bullfighter Scott Spencer telling the Killeen Daily Herald why he prefers his current job to competing as a bull rider.

Courtesy of PRCA