Event’s atmosphere and fan base are a hit among the sport’s elite cowboys
GOODING, Idaho – Cowboys know one thing about their rodeo season before it even begins.
“Gooding is one rodeo you don’t want to miss,” said steer wrestler Riley Duvall, a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Checotah, Oklahoma.
There are thousands of contestants that compete in the PRCA, and most of them know they want to return to this southern Idaho community every summer for the Gooding Pro Rodeo, set for Thursday, Aug. 18-Saturday, Aug. 20, with a special “Beauty and the Beast” performance set for Wednesday, Aug. 17. All performances take place at 8 p.m. at Andy James Arena.
“It’s great, and it’s always a good atmosphere,” said bareback rider Tanner Aus, a six-time NFR qualifier from Granite Falls, Minnesota. “The crowd’s always into it. They’re famous for giving cowboys beers if they do well in the arena. It’s pretty unique and a pretty fun spot to be.”
That’s why he and so many others return every year. Gooding Pro Rodeo’s popularity is well known among the contestants who make a living competing in the sport they love. Winning is always important, but performing well is a key to that.
What makes Gooding so special is that effort and ability are recognized by the fans that pack into Andy James Arena night after night. If they see a good ride or a fast run, the fans will let the cowboy know their effort is “Beer Worthy.”
“I want to be beer worthy,” Aus said. “I’ve been going there quite a few years, and I haven’t been beer worth yet, but this could be my year.”
A year ago, the rodeo paid out more than $160,000. The payout has increased virtually every year, nearly doubling from 2018. That’s a fair amount of attention paid to the contestants by the volunteer committee and the rodeo’s sponsors that make it happen.
The “Beauty and the Beast” performance set for Wednesday, Aug. 17, will feature bull riding, bareback riding, bronc riding and breakaway roping, opening the door for wild rides and fast times; it’s a night of explosive action that sets the tone for the four days of rodeo action.
“There’s no other rodeo like it,” said saddle bronc rider CoBurn Bradshaw, a four-time NFR qualifier from Beaver, Utah. “It’s awesome to just go there. It’s a different environment in Gooding, and it’s worth the trip just to be beer worthy.”
Championship buckles are sought-after in rodeo; they signify excellence in the arena, but there’s something different and something just as special when a fan reaches over the fence after a ride or a run and handing over a beer. It’s what makes the Gooding Pro Rodeo so memorable among the cowboys.
“Gooding’s a really good rodeo toward the end of the rodeo season that gets you ready for the fall rodeos,” said bronc rider Wyatt Casper, a two-time NFR qualifier from Miami, Texas. “Coming back to Gooding is always good, and this year means there’s another chance to be beer worthy.”
The most beer worthy of all competitors are the champions each season. The 2021 titlists reads like a who’s who among ProRodeo’s brightest stars, from world champions like steer wrestler Tyler Waguespack to perennial NFR standouts like all-around cowboy Rhen Richard, saddle bronc rider Rusty Wright or bull rider Trey Benton III.
“I’ve never been beer worthy, but I’ve always wanted to,” said Duvall, the fifth member of his highly decorated family to compete at the elite level of ProRodeo. “I always make it a point to go to Gooding. I love that rodeo and that committee.”