BRIDGEPORT, Texas – Rodeo excellence and Texas cowboys seem to go hand-in-hand.
That bodes quite well for the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.
Many of the sport’s greatest stars live within a 45-mile radius of Bridgeport, so it is the perfect destination for amazing competition. Just a few miles east sits Decatur, home to 21 world championships between brothers-in-law Trevor Brazile (19) and Tuf Cooper (2).
“We hear that it’s like a hometown rodeo for a lot of these guys,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “Trevor can be here competing, and 20 minutes later, he can be home.”
A season ago, Brazile’s achievements inside Sunset Retreat Arena echoed his 2013 season accomplishments: He won the Bridgeport rodeo’s all-around and steer roping championships to match his 11th all-around world championship and his fourth steer roping gold buckle. He also owns three tie-down roping titles and a heading crown.
Tuf Cooper earned tie-down roping gold in 2011-12. His father, Roy Cooper, is a rodeo legend who owns eight world championships and also lives in Decatur, as do Clif Cooper and Clint Cooper, both of whom are veterans at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
How much talent resides in Wise County? Last December, five Wise County residents competed at the NFR: Trevor Brazile, Clif Cooper, Tuf Cooper, steer wrestler K.C. Jones and barrel racer Shada Brazile, Trevor’s wife and the sister of Tuf and Clif. Three Weatherford residents also competed in ProRodeo’s grand finale: team roper Ryan Motes, tie-down roper Tyson Durfey and saddle bronc rider Bradley Harter.
“You get all those guys coming, and it’s great,” Turnbow said. “You also get some of the younger guys that are coming up, and they want to be part of it, too. It means a lot for our rodeo to have them all here.”
The local competitors are just a small taste of what fans can expect with Bridgeport’s rodeo, which draws many of the sport’s brightest stars. Last year alone, Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo winners included Justin McDaniel, the 2008 world champion bareback rider from Porum, Okla.; Allen Bach, a four-time world champion heeler from Boyd, Texas, roping with his son, Joel.
They were joined in the winner’s circle by several NFR qualifiers, like team ropers Kaleb Driggers of Albany, Ga., and Travis Graves of Jay, Okla.; barrel racer Benette Little of Ardmore, Okla.; and bull rider Trevor Kastner, also of Ardmore.
“Part of what attracts the top cowboys is Pete Carr,” Turnbow said of the rodeo’s stock contractor, which had 27 animals selected to perform at the 2013 NFR. “Without the stock, you’re not going to get the cowboys. The stock makes a lot of difference. Having a good stock contractor is very key to making this thing successful.”
The success will continue this coming May.