PECOS, Texas – ProRodeo’s best have made a statement: The West of the Pecos Rodeo is an important part of the schedule.
More than 630 contestants have signed up to compete in the annual rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 27-Saturday, June 30, at Buck Jackson Arena. That’s up nearly 10 percent from a year ago and a strong showing for one of the biggest events to hit west Texas each summer. What cowboys and cowgirls will find in Pecos is a town ready for the hottest rodeo action in the area.
“We have a lot of old rodeo fans that don’t cut me a bit of slack,” said Joe Keese, president of the committee that organizes the annual event, which is celebrating its 129 year this June. “After the 2009 rodeo, I had a lot of people tell me that it was one of the best rodeos they’d ever watched, start to finish. Last year, I had even more people tell me that.
“That’s a true testament to the great livestock Pete Carr brings to our rodeo every year and the kind of production Carr Pro Rodeo puts on.”
Another commentary is how the fans return each June.
“We had a great show last year,” Keese said. “Everybody was very pleased. The crowds were excellent. Year to year, we’ve had our attendance increase four or five straight years. A lot of the people around here really know rodeo, and they’ve come to know that we’re putting on a great rodeo.”
It helps to have the greatest athletes in the sport performing in Buck Jackson Arena. A year ago, 16-time world champion Trevor Brazile won the all-around title in Pecos; he’s the odds-on favorite to do so again this season. Other winners included Wrangler National Finals Rodeo stalwarts like team ropers Derrick Begay and Cesar de la Cruz, barrel racer Cassie Moseley, bull rider Tate Stratton and bareback rider Chris Harris.
“We’re tickled to have rodeos that have that much history in the sport,” said Carr, the owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm.
The West of the Pecos Rodeo is still making history, whether it’s having Boyd Polhamus – the voice of ProRodeo – announcing the action or sought-after funnyman Gizmo McCracken or the best soundman in the business, Benje Bendele, adding a delicate touch to the proceedings or having the event produced by the staff of Carr Pro Rodeo, one of the fastest-growing stock contractors in the game.
“One of the things Pete has helped us with tremendously is because he’s got such a good livestock lineup, he’s got the quality of animals that brings the top cowboys,” Keese said. “The good news for the fans that follow the sport of rodeo is that no matter what night they come to our rodeo, they’ll get to see their favorite guys go.”
The committee and Carr Pro Rodeo have set up a same-day format also allows for the top timed-event contestants to work the Pecos rodeo while also keeping busy on the rodeo trail all across North America. Each steer wrestler, team roper and tie-down roper will compete in the first round, which will take place during “slack” competition each morning. Cowboys with the top 12 times will return that night to compete in the second round during the paid performance; the others will make their second runs that morning.
“It s something that’s arranged for the cowboys’ benefit, so they can work this rodeo in a day, then go on to the next one,” Keese said. “That’s worked out real well for us, and most of the timed-event guys really appreciate it.”
They also appreciate the fact that Carr has agreed for whatever trades to happen to accommodate all the competitors. It’s one of many steps to ensure a great competition.
Another aspect a great production is making sure the shows are run in a timely fashion. The arena is large, and Carr brings in three pickup men to help corral animals much faster after each ride; it will be up to Shawn Calhoun, Jason Bottoms and Josh Edwards to tackle that task.
“We’ve been pretty blessed to have the best pickup men work the Pecos arena,” Carr said. “It takes guys who know what they’re doing, and the three we have working it this year do.”
When it all comes together, the expectations are for fans to see a flawless show. For rodeo fans and those who are just out for a great bit of fun, the entertainment value is the best part.
“Even people who don’t know rodeo – and I’d say 70 to 80 percent of the people who come don’t know rodeo – they come for the entertainment,” Keese said. “We’ve been fortunate to have the team in place that we have. With Pete and his crew running things, there really aren’t any dead times.
“To have Boyd as the announcer and Benje on the sound, even when there are dead times, the fans never know it. That’s just another reason it looks so good.”
The West of the Pecos Rodeo provides many outstanding features, from a large arena that will test the greatest timed-event cowboys in the game to a 12 foot-by-17 foot video board from Real Screen Video to help fans enjoy the experience on site.
“For the cowboys, we have a really long timed-event box and a 20-plus-foot score line,” Keese said. “When you have a huge arena and a long box like that, as I’ve been told by many guys, you’ve got to know what you’re doing. If you’re not well-mounted and not good at what you do, you’re not going to win in Pecos.
“We’re going to have great timed-event cattle, too. Pete spends the money to bring in a good string of steers and a good string of calves.”