News & Notes from the Rodeo Trail, June 30

by | Jun 30, 2014
The total money up for grabs during the Cowboy Christmas run over the Fourth of July weekend increased by $296,274 between 2012 and 2013 to $3.5 million. The average amount of money per rodeo at the 32 rodeos also rose from $103,049 in 2012 to $112,307 in 2013.

PRCA trick roper Loop Rawlins of Tucson, Ariz., will appear on NBC’s America’s Got Talent on July 1, hoping to sufficiently impress judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B to reach the Judgment Week round. “This was the last week of auditions,” Rawlins said, “so apparently they wanted to save the best for last.” The show’s producers contacted Rawlins after they saw him performing for Cirque du Soleil (2009-12), where he did a Western show, but were unable to work something out until this ninth season of the show. After joining the PRCA last year, Rawlins was recruited by clown/barrelman John Harrison to work the Oklahoma State Fair Rodeo and he has also appeared at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Rawlins is the second PRCA trick roper to be a contestant on America’s Got Talent, following Anthony Lucia, who reached The Vegas Round in 2010. Rawlins’ Facebook page can be found at

Benny Binion’s Bucking Horse & Bull Sale is already one of the premier events in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas each December, and it’s making some changes to lift its profile even more. The sale will happen over two days, Dec. 4 and 6, at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa, which includes a special sale set for Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. which will feature 2- and 3-year-old colts and yearlings and 2-year-old bulls. “To be realistic, we were a good bucking horse and bull sale, but we weren’t where we wanted to be,” said Hal Burns, a PRCA director and member of the association’s stock contractor executive council. “We wanted to turn it into an elite sale. We wanted to see if we could sell the top stock in the country.” The Dec. 4 program will also include the 2014 PRCA Permit Holders of the Year Challenge, which will feature the top five permit-holders from the 2014 season in all six events. For the roughstock cowboys, there will be 10 broncs, 10 bareback horses and 10 bulls, all of which will be sold after the Permit Challenge concludes.

Cory Wall, the 2009 PRCA Bullfighter of the Year, has successfully ventured into politics. The 45-year-old won the primary election for Kit Carson County (Colo.) Commissioner, defeating fellow Republican Doug Anderson by 896 votes. Wall will be the new commissioner for the second district, and will be replacing County Commissioner Dave Gwyn.

The family of the late Wrangler National Finals Rodeo tie-down roper Stan Harter has created a scholarship fund in his name to assist college rodeo contestants. Harter was a college national champion while attending Arizona State University and was one of the first National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni Presidents. He served on the NIRAA Board for 15 years, until the time of his death on June 9. Donations may be sent to the NIRA-Stan Harter Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Amarillo National Bank, Account #669644, P.O. Box 1, Amarillo, TX 79105.

Jo Ann Gee of Stanford, Mont., the mother of John Gee, the 1975 Montana Circuit steer wrestling champion and grandmother to steer wrestler/bull rider Luke Gee, died on June 14. She was 80. Gee’s husband of 50 years, John W. Gee, is a PRCA gold card member. She served 12 years on the Stanford School Board and she was the director for the Montana State High School Rodeo Association for eight years.

Visitors to the Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo in Kennewick, Wash., this August will find a major upgrade to the grounds – new energy-efficient bathrooms. The $636,000 project, which was unveiled June 26, is a 2,400-square-foot, air-conditioned building in the middle of the fairgrounds, near the old facility. It has 40 stalls and is equipped with sinks that conserve water and hand blow-dryers, said Dean Docken, Benton County facilities manager. Other projects planned in coming months include landscaping in the main parking lot, Wi-Fi availability and a new digital reader board at the fairgrounds entrance.

Trade publication Venues Today has named Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla., as one of the top facilities in the state with seating capacity between 10,001 and 15,000. Silver Spurs took in $2.1 million in revenue for the year-long period ending May 31, placing it third behind only Jacksonville Veterans Memorial and the USF Sun Dome in Tampa. Starting next March, Silver Spurs Arena will be home to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo.

Two St. Paul (Ore.) High School students have been awarded the annual St. Paul Rodeo scholarships. Kennedy Smith and Jessica Wilmes are the 2014 recipients. Both Smith and Wilmes have volunteered at the St. Paul Rodeo, and will each receive $3,000 scholarships.

Courtesy of PRCA