HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The word is out, and the contestants are responding.
Some of the biggest names in rodeo will be in Hempstead this weekend for the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, with performances set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The rodeo has been a fixture of the community event for decades, but this year’s festivities will be part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
That’s a drawing card for the top cowboys and cowgirls in the game, because they know their dollars earned in Waller County will count toward qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and, potentially, a world championship. That’s why the list of entries includes world champions like Fred Whitfield, Joe Beaver, Brittany Pozzi and Kappy Allen and dozens of NFR qualifications.
Another factor in bringing the top contestants and talented rising stars to Hempstead are the outstanding animal athletes from Carr Pro Rodeo, one of the elite stock contractors in ProRodeo with bucking horses and bulls featured at the NFR, the Justin Boots Championships and some of the biggest PRCA rodeos across the country.
Owner Pete Carr takes great pride in putting on a great rodeo from start to finish, and the volunteer committee that helps produce the annual event in Waller County is excited about that.
“Fans want to have a good time and see a great show, and that’s what we’re going to work hard to do each night,” said Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm.
Carr has a pasture full of the best bucking animals in the game, from bareback horses like Real Deal, the 2005 Bareback Horse of the Year, to River Boat Annie, the 2007 Reserve World Champion Bareback horse, to any number of other animals that regularly have been featured at the NFR.
“It takes somebody who knows the game and understands it, and that’s what you’ve got in Pete Carr,” said bareback rider Chris Harris, a six-time NFR qualifier from Itasca, Texas. “It takes passion to put that back into the animals, to take care of them, to feed them the right grain, the right nutrients.
“That guy got his hands on River Boat Annie, and that horse, to me, is still one of the greatest horses to get on. That takes heart, passion and try.”
That’s what the Carr crew brings at each rodeo, and the top contestants in the world see it. There will be plenty of regular NFR qualifiers in the field this weekend, like tie-down ropers Tyson Durfey, Houston Hutto and Scott Kormos; team ropers Kenny Herrill, Tyler Mangus, Martin Lucero and Luke Brown; steer wrestlers Matt Reeves and Sean Mulligan; barrel racers Mattie Little-Jackson, Cassie Moseley and Tammy Fischer; bull riders D.J. Domangue, Howdy Cloud, Trent Cormier, Tate Stratton, Logan Knibbe and Chance Smart; bareback riders Harris, Matt Bright and Heath Ford; and saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley.
Add that to the Carr animals, and you can see tremendous match-ups that are in the mix for fans, like bull riders Domangue vs. Synergy or Kenny Westrope vs. Ryan’s Express; and bareback riders like Harris vs. Island Girl or Ford vs. Hylo Hills.
“Those are just some of the great match-ups we’ve got in Hempstead, but there are going to be a bunch of them,” Carr said. “With live bucking stock, there is no way to predict or predetermine the outcome of any rodeo event, that’s why the cowboys show up and rope and ride. And that’s why the fans buy a ticket to watch, because it’s always live, unscripted and exciting entertainment, and oftentimes record breaking when spectacular things happen.”