BRIDGEPORT, Texas – Wise County, Texas, is quickly becoming the Home of World Champions.
In this 932-square-mile pocket of north Texas are 32 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association gold buckles. This beautiful landscape is quickly turning into rodeo central and has become the perfect home for ProRodeo’s elite.
That’s an awfully effective drawing card for the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.
This is the hometown rodeo for the greatest names in the game.
Take Trevor Brazile, the reigning all-around champion in Bridgeport. In 2014, he moved his gold buckle earnings to 21, adding his record 12th all-around world title and fifth steer roping championship. He is expected to return for this year’s competition, as are members of his family and his extended family.
Enter Tuf Cooper, Brazile’s brother-in-law – Cooper’s sister, Shada, also competes and qualified for the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in barrel racing. Cooper earned his third tie-down roping crown in four seasons last year. He is the youngest of three sons to Roy Cooper; the “Super Looper” is an eight-time world champ that also lives in Wise County.
In all, this expansive community of 61,000 residents boasts of 103 NFR qualifications, led, of course, by Brazile. Between the NFR and the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, he has 45 qualifications. He is followed by Roy Cooper’s 32, then a tie between Tuf Cooper and steer wrestler K.C. Jones with eight.
The oldest Cooper son, Clint, is a five-time qualifier in tie-down roping, and middle son, Clif, is a four-time qualifier.
“I think getting those big-name contestants is big for our rodeo,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the volunteer rodeo committee that produces the rodeo. “We’ve got some of the greatest cowboys in the world that are just 20 minutes from our arena. It’s fun for our community to see that.”
This is the perfect place to watch talent blossom. It’s one of the reasons members of the Bridgeport community volunteer their time to produce a world-class rodeo in Wise County.
“We want to put on the best rodeo possible, for the fans, for the contestants and for the sponsors,” Turnbow said. “This is truly a community event, and we’re building it for our community.”