Lucia brings smooth to rodeo

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BIG SPRING, Texas – When Anthony Lucia rides into the Rodeo Bowl, his mind is transformed to life in west Texas nearly a century ago.

He can feel the heat and the wind. Mostly, though, he can feel the presence of rodeo’s history, the place where Toots Mansfield shined and where Quail Dobbs played. There’s a comfort, one that far surpasses his three-plus decades on this Earth and is realized in the faces he sees in the crowd.

He returns for the third year as the emcee of the Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20-Saturday, June 22, at the Rodeo Bowl, which was built in time for the 1950 event and has been upgraded in the years since.

“No matter what side you go to, I can ride up to people and look them in their eyes and know that I’m in this with them,” said Lucia, the reigning PRCA Announcer of the Year from Weatherford, Texas. “It’s a very unique setting, and it’s just got that old-school, fun, summer-rodeo feel. Hopefully I can do it justice.

“It’s a great rodeo, and that, coupled with the history, just makes it all very, very special.”

The event is celebrating its 90th anniversary. While acknowledging its past, the rodeo is still vibrant. Organizers have continued to increase the local dollars that are added to the purse, which is attracting more contestants.

“The Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo has a flavor all its own,” Lucia said. “The audience is a really diverse mix of rodeo faithfuls – people who watch The Cowboy Channel every time something’s on – and people that have never seen a rodeo before. It’s really a little bit of a challenge as an announcer to find the right mix of education, entertainment and announcing.

“To be honest, that makes it pretty dang fun.”

His approach to job is what makes Lucia so valuable to the organizers, the sponsors and the fans. Lucia’s assignment is to provide the details of the rodeo and all its characteristics in an entertaining fashion. He comes by it naturally, having spent his formative years as either an assistant to a specialty act performer or as an entertainer himself.

He is the son of Tommy Lucia, who has been inducted into the National Rodeo, ProRodeo and Texas Rodeo Cowboy halls of fame and gained mainstream success with his act involving Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey. Anthony Lucia became a trick roper who was part of several National Finals Rodeos; he also was a competitor.

Though he didn’t grow up working the rodeo in Big Spring, he found his way to Howard County when the opportunities allowed.

“I don’t remember if I went there with my dad, but I know I entered it every time I could,” he said. “I’ve competed in the slack and in the performance, and it was just always a ton of fun. It was always that arena that was a little challenging as a team roper; if anything steps left, that wall can be somewhat intimidating to your horse. It was still a lot of fun to be part of that rodeo.”

What he does in the arena has changed as he’s aged. Lucia has a naturally smooth voice with an equally fluid style. His understanding of the sport from so many levels allows him a distinct advantage as an announcer. He can relate to the competitors and to the entertainers.

“When we hired Anthony a few years ago, we took it very seriously,” said Dane Driver, chairman of the volunteer committee. “Anthony has a different sound on the mic. He brings engrained rodeo history, knowledge and understanding of personnel that are similar to a lot of our board members. We feel like he’s up and coming in his career, and his understanding of the legacy of rodeo is perfect for us.”

It’s also the mark of a good committee to have someone with Lucia’s pedigree and the most recent Announcer of the Year award.

“We’d like to think we helped with that,” Driver said with a laugh. “Anthony is very dynamic, and we’re glad to see other people see what we saw. We’re tickled for him and proud to have him part of our rodeo.”


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