NEBRASKAland DAYS Rodeo Guide 2020




FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020

Nebraskaland Days takes over August Rodeo, new concert lineup highlight postponed event

“Music is an essen- tial component of our heritage, and if at all possible we wanted to give fans the oppor- tunity to see a show while being responsible about how we go about it,” Executive Director David Fudge said. The reopening plan for the Wild West Arena calls for capaci- ties capped at 75%. But organizers have com- mitted to operating well below that limit. “This isn’t the year to push the envelope,” Fudge said. “Our shows will have a special seating plan utilizing picnic tables on the are- na floor, each spaced out and limited to six people per table.” The concerts will be closer to 25% capacity for the two shows. Although the ro- deo is the focus, Fudge said many of the oth- er usual events will also be a part of the scaled-down version of Nebraskaland Days. “We’ll do some of the other things,” Fudge said. “Some of our af- filiated ag producers wanted to get some things in, too — prime rib feed, flapjack feed, barbecue pork sand- wich feed, the art show at the Prairie Arts Center.” He said because kickball is not that dis- similar from baseball or softball, there will be a tournament as usual. “We’re going to do a cornhole event out here, which can be out- doors and fun,” Fudge said. “We’re just trying to provide some things in a way that jibes with the guidelines we have to work with.” Fudge said he

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association “wanted to see if there were some of us in certain parts of the country that could shove (the schedule) back and get it. We were able to fit that bill and got a new date.” The popular Viaero Summer Jam Concerts that bring big-name artists to the Nebraskaland Days celebration each year have been added to the 2020 version of the event, though in a smaller fashion. The legendary band 38 Special will kick off the concert series on Aug. 14. On Aug. 15, country music star Granger Smith will close the series.

thought there was de- mand for the outdoor activities. “I think people are ready to do some things,” Fudge said. “We’re going to do ev- erything we can do to make sure that we’re doing what is being asked of us from a safe- ty standpoint.” The plan is to follow the guidance of West Central District Health Department, which Fudge said has ap- proved the event. “Our plan basical- ly says we will not exit Phase 3 in terms of seating capacity re- gardless of whether or not the governor moves us into Phase 4,” Fudge said. “We’ve gone a step further to basically say we don’t anticipate tick- eting the grandstand any more than 50%.” Part of the reason for the conservative ap- proach, Fudge said, is the responsibility Nebraskaland Days has to its corporate spon- sors. “We’re being so care- ful about that because we have a really large corporate sponsorship family that we need to be responsible to,” Fudge said. “But more than that, we want to make sure people feel comfortable coming out here and being assured they’re going to have some room around them this year.” The ticketing will reflect the care for protecting fans and workers as well. “We’re the largest outdoor venue on this end of the state and not by a little bit, but by a long shot,” Fudge said. “There’s a little extra attention on us in how we do things, and our

position is that it is bet- ter to be conservative this year than to push the envelope. That’s the way we’re going to do it.” The grandstand holds 4,350 seats, and for rodeo, typically an- other 700 tickets are available on both sides of the Wild West Arena. “About 5,000 people is a typical sold-out ro- deo crowd,” Fudge said. “Half capacity is in that 2,500 range.” Fudge said the grandstands have been carved into 14 zones. “What we’re saying to our ticket holders is ‘here’s your zone, there’s no more than half the seats sold up there, go seat yourself how you feel comfort- ably inside that zone,’” Fudge said. “If they want a little more room around them, they can do that.” He said it is up to the individual family’s comfort level. “We’re trying to be as flexible as we can for those folks who want to come out and see the show,” Fudge said. Once the rodeo en- tries close the first week of August, Fudge said he will have a bet- ter idea of the number of competitors. “What we’re seeing is because there are so few events, a lot of the top guns in the PRCA are hitting as many of these as they can be- cause there just aren’t going to be a lot of them this year,” Fudge said. “We anticipate, from a quality standpoint, a really good show this year.” Another reason Fudge said they chose the August dates was

directors hope to reig- nite the excitement it brings to the area. “It’s nothing any of us planned on this year,” Fudge said. “We’ll circle back around and get done what we can get done the safest way we can do it.” The August dates were selected with the hopes of getting the ro- deo in sometime during the summer. “There were a bunch of rodeos around the country, PRCA events, that just folded for the year,” Fudge said. The

By JOB VIGIL The Buffalo Bill Rodeo captures the energy of its fans each year during Nebraskaland Days in North Platte. With this year’s adjusted sched- ule, the rodeo will be the centerpiece of the celebration scheduled for Aug. 5-8, said David Fudge, executive direc- tor of Nebraskaland Days. COVID-19 forced postponement of the state’s official annual celebration in June, but Fudge and the board of

Please see NLD, Page C4




FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020

Leaning into behind the scenes work

By RUTH NICOLAUS For The North Platte Telegraph It takes all hands on deck to put on a rodeo, and the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte has had some pretty good helping hands. Last year, Jerry Woodruff was honored with the Trail Boss Award, given annual- ly to a person who has shown dedication and faithfulness to the sport of rodeo in Nebraska. Woodruff began his volunteer “career” at the rodeo in 1991, after being bitten by the ro- deo bug. After graduating from Colorado State University in June 1976 with a doctorate of vet- erinary medicine, he moved to North Platte and attended the rodeo. “It got into my blood pretty quickly,” he said. “I saw firsthand how big a deal it was for peo- ple in this area.” He was a regular at- tendee for 15 years, till he became a rodeo board member. That was in 1991, and since then, he’s helped out in nearly every ca- pacity at the rodeo, both in preparing for it, and during its four day run, this year Aug. 5-8. He’s helped build ex- terior fences, the crow’s nest and the rodeo shack, and every proj- ect that is part of the facilities surrounding the rodeo arena, said Jack Morris, chair- man of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo committee. “The chutes, the are- na, Jerry was there, Jerry Woodruff received 2019 Trail Boss award

ing of the Trail Boss Award. “There have been some marvelous in- dividuals that have received this award. I could have come up with a whole bunch of names that should have been chosen before mine,” he said. “But I was so proud. I was just so excited because of the quality of individu- als chosen before me.” In 30 years and 120 nights of rodeo, he’s only missed two nights. That was three years ago, when he had lower back muscle spasms. “I decided I was go- ing to be in the way on crutches, so I stayed home and healed up a bit,” he said. He believes in rodeo, the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, and the sport in gen- eral. “I believe in the con- cept. I believe in the entertainment val- ue of it. I enjoy the fact that people in our community, in the surrounding commu- nities, and across the state get to come and en- joy the rodeo. It depicts the western way of life, which, I feel, has an aw- ful lot of benefit for our society.” This year’s Trail Boss Award will be awarded during the final night of rodeo, Aug. 8.

Ismael Rodriguez Jr. / The North Platte Telegraph Dr. Jerry Woodruff receives the Trail Boss Award from Jack Morris, surrounded by Woodruff’s family and members of the rodeo committee, including his wife, Peggy. Woodruff has volunteered with the Buffalo Bill Rodeo for more than 40 years. “This has to be one of the greatest honors one can receive” when you consider who has won it before, Woodruff said.

the day, in case an an- imal needs treatment. He loves the rodeo an- imals, especially the horses and the bulls and “the beauty of those animals.” “It’s something to be- hold as a veterinarian,” he said. He also believes that rodeo animals get won- derful treatment from their owners. “If people saw how well they were cared for, they’d trade with them in a heartbeat,”

Woodruff said. “They have the best of care, health wise, and they certainly enjoy what they do. They do their job well, they don’t have to work very many hours in a week, and they get fed and cared for very, very well.” Woodruff has also helped organize the annual Trail Boss win- ner, making sure the winner’s family is at the rodeo the night the award is given. It’s done in secrecy, so the win-

with the rest of us, helping build,” Morris said. “Every piece of iron above ground has Jerry’s handprints on it.” Woodruff has served as informal photogra- pher for the rodeo, and for a long time, was hos- pitality coordinator, making sure coffee and donuts were ready for slack competition, and the hospitality room was stocked with re- freshments. “He’s picked up do- nuts in the early morning,” Morris said, “making sure they were ready for people. He’s willing to lean in and do all the stuff behind the scenes.” Woodruff has also served as one of two of- ficial veterinarians for the rodeo, in a vol- unteer capacity. He, along with Dr. Jerry Thompson, are on hand during each night of ro- deo and slack during

ner doesn’t know they are receiving it. Last year, the committee had to involve Woodruff, but deceived him, so that the person he con- tacted as the Trail Boss “winner” wasn’t going to win it; Woodruff did. “Those dirty rotten scoundrels,” he joked of his fellow committee people. Woodruff is quick to point out that he’s not the only person on the board, and there are so many others deserv-




FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020

Breakaway roping comes to Buffalo Bill Rodeo

her freshman and senior years. Breakaway roping was added to many rodeos across the nation last year and this year as well. Mundorf said there’s an opportunity for women in pro rodeo to have a chance to make a living beyond the barrel racing. “For some women, this might be what they do. They train horses and rope. There’s the potential for this to be a career,” she said. It’s a job that Brown may ponder. She will gradu- ate from Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma, in December with a degree in business. “I considered roping and living the gypsy life for a while,” she said. Mundorf ranches with her husband, Joe, north of Mullen. The couple has two children: a daughter, Abbigail, 6, and a son, Tru, 4. If the breakaway roping had been part of pro rodeo when she went to college, she might not have played college basketball. “If this had been the cli- mate when I was 18, and there was a future for wom- en in rodeo other than the barrels, I don’t know if I’d have chosen basketball,” she said. Breakaway will be one of eight events each night of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo at the Wild West Arena in North Platte.

Breakaway contestants Michelle Alley, Madisonville, TX Sloan Anderson, Whitehorse, SD Anna Bahe, Grantsville, UT Cassie Bahe, Grantsville, UT Dara Belew, La Junta, CO Kaylee Billingsley, Phoenix, AZ Leigh Ann Billingsley, Phoenix, AZ Kayla Bland, Jerome, ID Cora Borman, Backus, MN Tayle Brink, Newell, SD Bailey Brown, North Platte, NE Misti Brown, Valentine, NE Morgan Busby, Scottsdale, AZ Jessica Chester, Glade, KS Syerra C.Y. Christensen, Kennebec, SD Amber Coleman, Orchard, NE Jill Eppert, Ashby, NE Kirby Eppert, Seneca, NE Macy Fuller, Wittmann, AZ Montanna-Graci Gambino, Lindale, TX Peggy Garman, Sundance, WY Brittany Gartner, Killdeer, ND Moriah Glaus, Chamberlain, SD Sydney Graff, Long Pine, NE Kaitlin Gustave, Fort Lupton, CO Kelley Haythorn, Arthur, NE Lacey Hewitt, Whitewood, SD Justene Hirsig, Cheyenne, WY Charity Hoar, Pine Bluff, WY Lacy Holeman, Carpenter, WY Brandi Hollenbeck, Mooreland, OK Randi Holliday, Chouteau, OK Cedar Jandreau, Kennebec, SD Caydee Johnson, Manhattan, MT Erin Johnson, Fowler, CO Samantha Jorgenson, Watford City, ND

By RUTH NICOLAUS For The North Platte Telegraph Two local women will be competing in the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in August. Bailey Brown of North Platte and Katie Dent Mundorf of Mullen will be in the breakaway roping, a new event to the North Platte rodeo. In the breakaway, the cowgirl is on horseback in the box at the south end of the arena. She nods her head when she’s ready, and the calf is re- leased from the chute. The cowgirl ropes the calf, stops her horse, and while the calf runs, the end of the rope, which is attached to the saddle horn, breaks away, sig- naling the end of the run. Good breakaway runs will be two or three sec- onds in length. Brown, 22, follows in the footsteps of her dad, Ray Brown, a long-time tie-down roper. She has been around the Buffalo Bill Rodeo since she was a youngster, hanging out in the crow’s nest as her grandma Dorothy Brown worked as a timer. Ray competed at the pro rodeo in North Platte for more than 20 years. Both women excelled in the breakaway rop- ing in high school rodeo. Mundorf — who was Katie Dent at the time — won the Nebraska High School

Kacey Kobza, Brighton, CO Georgie Lage, Arthur, NE Alyssa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD Shelby Massie, Kaycee, WY Mable McAbee, Ansley, NE Jessica McMaster, Madison, KS Jessie Miller, Fort Lupton, CO Katie Mundorf, Mullen, NE Caitlyn Olson, Buffalo, SD Sidney Peters, Smithwick, SD Jacque Peterson, Isabel, SD Tomie Peterson, Parade, SD Rylee Rich, Emerson, NE Lacinda Rose, Willard, MO Ginalee Sinner, Broken Bow, NE Jimmie Smith, McDade, TX Megan Steiger, Rapid City, SD Bailey Stuva, Willard, MO Ceri Ward, Wayne, OK Cindy Welling, Benson, AZ Brenda White, Oelrichs, SD Michelle Wilson, Osage City, KS Tanegai Zilverberg, Holabird, SD Hannah Zimmers, Hennessey, OK

Photo courtesy of Cathy Sandall North Platte’s Bailey Brown competes at the 2016 Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo, winning the year-end title that year and the previous year. The women’s event will be included, for the first time, at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte.

deo. Her thought was “you could rodeo forever but I have four years to see if basketball worked out.” For her, it did; Hastings College won national titles

breakaway championship in 2002; Brown won it in 2015-16. At Hastings College, Mundorf played basketball, forgoing collegiate ro-

NLD from Page C2

will take care of the sanitizing at the end of all the shows. “But also throughout the evenings they will be touching up the rest- room facilities,” Fudge said. The website at ne- contains information about ticketing and schedule.

is making changes to comply with health guidelines. “We won’t be us- ing reusable glasses at some of our events this year,” Fudge said. “Everything will be disposable. There will be hand sanitizing sta- tions around.” Cornhusker Commercial Cleaning

have to make those de- cisions.” Prize money will be the same as in the past for the rodeo competi- tors. “We did add a new event this year, which is women’s break- away roping,” Fudge said. “That’s new to the WPRCA.” Nebraskaland Days

that,” Fudge said. There are contin- gency plans in place should the direct- ed health measures change between now and the opening. “You just don’t know,” Fudge said. “As challenging a year as it has been for us, it’s been a challeng- ing year for those who

eo contractors are here and our sound contrac- tors.” There will be conces- sions, food vendors and the usual fare offered as well. “We’re watching di- rected health measures very closely because there are some rules about beer gardens, pa- rades and things like

because the main play- ers were available at that time. “We’ll have Beutler and Sons rodeo, Randy (Corley), we were able to get a good barrel man to do the show,” Fudge said. “Our vid-




FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020

Recent high school grads try hand at pro rodeo

Mason Ward, Gus Franzen, Gauge McBride set to compete

steer wrestler, practice at his arena. “He has a pretty good idea of what it takes to make it at the next lev- el,” Franzen said. “To have somebody like that in your back yard is pretty good. He’s put us under his wing and has taken care of us.” McBride gets guid- ance from Steven Dent, a 10-time NFR quali- fier fromMullen. The McBride and Dent fam- ilies have been friends for years, and McBride has spent plenty of time with Dent, on his ranch, practicing on his spur board (an instrument used to help cowboys practice their spur strokes), and with a ma- chine that simulates a bucking horse. Dent, a three-time reserve world champion, “has helped me so much, with everything I need to do, not only how to ride, but how to take care of (rodeo) busi- ness,” McBride said. “I don’t think I would be doing this without him. Steven is one of the greatest bareback rid- ers there is, and to have someone not only to tell me what I’m doing wrong, but what I’m do- ing right is great.” McBride hasn’t com- peted at any pro rodeos yet; Deadwood, South Dakota, July 22-25 will be his first, and the North Platte event will be his second. He loves everything there is about riding bucking horses. “Just the feeling it gives you, the adrena- line rush, the feeling when you make a great ride and step off (the horse.) There’s nothing else like it,” McBride said. One of the best parts, the cowboys agree, is

competing alongside world-class cowboys in their discipline. Some of the reigning world champions, plus multi- ple-time NFR qualifiers will be in North Platte. It could be unnerving, but the men don’t let it get to them. “It can be intimi- dating, but you know you’re on the right track when your idols become your competi- tion,” Ward said. McBride is working towards an associate degree in welding at Panola; Franzen is a fi- nance major, and Ward is studying business management. McBride will compete on Aug. 8; Franzen is up on Aug. 6, and Ward will ride on Aug. 5.

giately as well as at the pros at the same time. But a solid career in high school does not guarantee an easy pro- fessional career. “The talent gets a lit- tle steeper at the pro rodeos,” Franzen said. Last year, he compet- ed at three pro rodeos and this year, he’s been to a few in Georgia and Florida before COVID-19 suspended ro- deo competition. “It’s for sure a big jump,” to pro rodeos, Ward said. “It’d be like a high school pitcher pitching in the major leagues. There’s a select few that it happens to.” Ward is going to PBRs as well as PRCA rodeos and is pleased with his performance so far. Even though he’s bucked off the last three bulls at PBRs, he’s held on for seven and a half seconds. It’s not a qual- ified ride, earning him a score, but it’s a posi- tive note. “I didn’t ride them to eight seconds, but I rode some of the best bulls in the world to seven sec- onds, and heck, what’s one more second?” Ward said. Mentors have helped the men as they get start- ed in their pro careers. Franzen has gotten advice and help from a former Husker cowboy, Sean Mulligan, a steer wrestler who qualified for pro rodeo’s world championship — the National Finals Rodeo — four times. Mulligan lives close to Durant, and has had Franzen, as well as other Durant students, including Tyler Ravenscroft, an- other Nebraska college

By RUTH NICOLAUS For The North Platte Telegraph

It’s not always seam- less in making the transition from high school sports to col- lege, and to the pros, but several cowboys from central and western Nebraska are giving it their best shot. Gauge McBride, a 2020 Kearney High School graduate; Gus Franzen, a 2019 Kearney grad; and Mason Ward, a 2019 McPherson County High School grad, will compete at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte Aug. 5-8. All three men are in or headed to college on rodeo schol- arships. McBride will be a student at Panola College in Carthage, Texas. Franzen and Ward have finished their first years, both at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant. All three men also exceled in high school rodeo. McBride, a bare- back rider, saddle bronc rider, and bull rider, won the state bare- back riding title three out of four years. In the pros, he’s focus- ing on bareback riding, his strength. Franzen, a steer wrestler, was the 2019 state champ, and Ward was a three- time state high school champion bull rider, finishing the 2018 year seventeenth in the na- tion at the high school level. Rodeo athletes can compete professionally as soon as they turn 18, and often compete colle-

Photo courtesy of Jill Saults North Platte cowboy Mason Ward rides a bull at the Harrison high school rodeo in 2019. A stu- dent at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Ward is competing at PRCA and PBR rode- os and will ride at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte.

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FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020

Oconto cowboy receives scholarship from NLD board

ucation. “I had a really, really good teacher,” he said, “and I had the opportunity to help with a couple of classes while I was in high school. I decided I wanted to go into it.” He is also thankful for his art instructor at Mid-Plains, Rick Johnson. “He is just phenomenal,” Still said. “He has a very one-on-one approach, and he helps you find what you’re capable of.” For his thesis at Mid- Plains, Still painted five oil paintings, all of scenes from the ranch where he grew up and where his parents, Richard and Brenda, still live. He credits ranch life with his work ethic and at- tention to detail. “I focus on the processes I learned while growing up on the ranch, of having to do ev- erything to a T, not cutting

By RUTH NICOLAUS For The North Platte Telegraph A Nebraska youth has won a scholarship from the Nebraskaland Days board. Marshall Still of Oconto is the recipient of $1,600 to- wards his education at Mid-Plains Community College in McCook. Still, who graduated in May with three associates degrees, competed on the ro- deo team at Mid-Plains in the steer wrestling and team roping. An art major, Still has earned degrees in associ- ates of fine arts, associates of arts and associates of science. Someday he will further his education, with the goal of teaching K-12 art education. He credits his high school art teacher, Suzi Campbell from Callaway High School, for his interest in art and ed-

Courtesy photo Marshall Still, center, in vest, receives a scholarship from the Nebraskaland Days board. From right, MPCC rodeo team rough stock coach Dustin Elliott; NLD executive director David Fudge; Still; MPCC rodeo team timed event coach Garrett Nokes and MPCC rodeo team advi- sor Mike Janecek.

Money for the scholar- ship came from entry fees from the Nebraskaland Days Cowboy Kickball competi- tion. Still was the 2018 Nebraska State High School Rodeo steer wrestling cham- pion.

class of 12, I’m used to that and I want to help kids from that kind of community,” he said. “I don’t want a school to go without an art program, because personally it’s been very important to me, and I think it’s an important part of an education.”

corners, making sure ev- erything is right,” he said. “You can’t cut corners on the ranch or while you’re paint- ing.” Someday, he hopes to teach art at a rural school. “Being from Callaway, a town of 500 and a graduating

By RUTH NICOLAUS For The North Platte Telegraph The cattle at the erything we can to shave our expenses. We’re trying to save anywhere and every- where we can. But we committed ourselves, so we’re building them back.” Buffalo Bill Rodeo volunteers construct new pens for rodeo cattle Please see PENS, Page C8 Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte just got a little nicer “crib.” In other words, there are new pens being built for the steers and calves at the rodeo. The rodeo committee members, all volun- teers, are redoing the pens at the north end of the Wild West Arena, reconfiguring them, making them bigger, nicer and easier to work with. The original pens were built with ex- tra panels from when the old arena was re- placed, said Jack Morris, chairman of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo committee. “It was kind of make- shift,” he said, “and the gate swings weren’t ideal, but we made it work.” Last fall, the volun- teers tore out the old pens, planning on hav- ing new pens ready to go by the June rodeo dates. Then COVID-19 hit. “Had we known that COVID would change the plans, we wouldn’t have started,” Morris said. “We’re doing ev-


Find more information, register for events and buy tickets at nebraskalanddays. com. Aug. 1 Competitive Art Show, Prairie Arts Center. Exhibit of piec- es submitted for this year’s competition can be viewed all month. 4-10 p.m. Pals NLD Kickoff, Pals Brewing Company Aug. 4 4:30-7 p.m. Prime rib sandwich feed, downtown North Platte. Aug. 5

East E St. 8 a.m. Rodeo slack, Wild West Arena 4:30-7 p.m. BBQ pork sand- wich feed, Moose Lodge. Drive-thru only. 8 p.m. Buffalo Bill Rodeo, Great Plains Health Night, Wild West Arena Aug. 7 8 a.m. Junior tennis tourna- ment, Cody Park 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Lunch with the Wild Bunch, Wild West Arena 1 p.m. Raising a Red Barn auction, Wild West Arena 8 p.m. Buffalo Bill Rodeo, First

7 a.m. Sweet Saloon cinna- mon roll sales. Pre-orders only; order by Aug. 3 at mpcc. edu/sweetsaloon. Pick up at McDaid Activities Center, 1002 East E St. 8 a.m. Rodeo slack, Wild West Arena 8 p.m. Buffalo Bill Rodeo, Nebraskaland National Bank Night, Wild West Arena Aug. 6 7-10 a.m. Sweet Saloon cin- namon roll sales. Pre-orders only; order by Aug. 3 at mpcc. edu/sweetsaloon. Pick up at McDaid Activities Center, 1002

National Bank Night Aug. 8 8 a.m. Adult tennis tourna- ment, Cody Park 8 30-10:30 a.m. Flapjack feed, Platte River Mall. Drive-thru only. Purchase tickets online or by calling 308-532-7939. 1 p.m. Nebraskaland Days on Parade. Route starts at Fourth and Bryan streets westbound, then turns south on Dewey. Theme: Back in the Saddle. Aug. 9 8 a.m. Adult tennis tourna- ment, Cody Park. 3-5 p.m . Ranch Rodeo, Wild

West Arena

Aug. 12 5 p.m. Cowboy Kickball, Wild West Arena 5-10 p.m. Cowboy Cornhole Aug. 13 6-10 p.m. Taps and Tunes, Wild West Arena Aug. 14 8 p.m. 38 Special concert, Wild West Arena Aug. 15 8 p.m. Granger Smith concert, Wild West Arena Aug. 16 9 a.m. Junior Rodeo, Wild West Arena




FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020




FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020

Get to know the 2019 Buffalo Bill rodeo champs

Bareback riding champ: Austin Foss For the third consec- utive year, Austin Foss topped the scoreboard in the bareback rid- ing at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo. Foss, of Terrebonne, Oregon, scored 89 points on Beutler and Son Rodeo’s horse Foxy Lady, a chestnut mare that Foss said was “pretty strong and pret- ty quick. She made two moves and she was fac- ing the other way.” Not only did he win the rodeo for the third year in a row, he also broke the arena record by one point, which his dad made him aware of. “My dad likes to check on that stuff,” he said. “He was pretty pumped about it.” The old re- cord was 88 points, set several times by Steven Peebles (2013); Tom McFarland (2012); Kelly Timberman (2004); and Ken Lensegrav (1997). Foss, who owns some cattle, loves the North

Platte area. “It’s a lot of cattle country and has some good fishing holes. It’s a pretty neat ag area.” He qualified for his fourth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2019, but it didn’t end the way he wanted it to. In round 8, his hand came out of the rigging, he fell on his shoulder, broke the AC joint and tore a ligament. “It was just a weird thing, how I landed,” he said. “I couldn’t even pick my arm up. It was sitting on my belt buckle, pret- ty much.” The injury didn’t re- quire surgery. Rehab has been successful and Foss is back to rid- ing. First buckle he won: “The first buck- le I won was from high school rodeo, in the first arena I ever got on a (bucking) horse. I made the buzzer and ended up winning the rodeo.” Foss was 15 years old and a soph- omore; it was 2009 and he ended the high pipe for the top rail. “The top rail helps stabilize the gate swings so the gates don’t sag over time,” Morris said. “They’re pretty foolproof in how they’re designed.” The new pens also make for a better expe- rience for the livestock and the volunteer help. They will allow for shade screens to be put up during the hot time of the day, instead of the usual blue tarps, which don’t allow air to pass through. The lay- out will also be simpler for both animal and hu- man. “If you’re going to

school season 14th in the world. Favorite meal: “I have a lot of favorite meals, but I like steak, medium well, with a baked potato.” Most influential people in his life: “My parents, (CB and Joy Foss) and the guys I’ve been rodeoing with the last 10 years. There are a lot of positive bare- back riders out there, a lot of good guys. It’s a good group of peers in the bareback riding.” Steer wrestling champ: Shane Frey Shane Frey was the 2019 Buffalo Bill Rodeo steer wrestling cham- pion. The Duncan, Oklahoma, native won the first round in 3.4 seconds and had a time of 4.1 seconds in the second round to win the average (7.5 seconds on two head). He hadn’t won much

Photo courtesy of Donald Christner Austin Foss, the 2019 bareback riding champion, competes at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.

Please see KNOW, Page C10

PENS from Page C6

ask volunteers to come and help, it shouldn’t be a dirty job,” Morris said. “We’re building those pens in a way that is easy handling, easy to get ropes off and putting horn wraps on, so that it’s not a stressful event.” The committee is al- ways looking for ways to make the rodeo bet- ter for the animal and people involved. “We’re always up- dating things, to keep them safe for contes- tants and livestock,” Morris said. “Those projects never go away. We’re always doing them.”

They are built entire- ly from volunteer labor, Morris said, as is the case for nearly every project at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo. The only cost is the material. “We’re an all-volun- teer committee, and we’re doing the work during as-needed work nights,” he said. The new layout fea- tures five pens instead of four, each about the same size so it is easier to sort cattle. Fencing is a six-rail continuous pipe with a two-inch




FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020

The world seen from the back of a horse Love for riding

And she shares credit with her fellowvolun- teers. “You never do anything by yourself (on committees). It’s every- one involvedwho puts it together andmakes it work.” She and Swede have a son, Shane and his wifeMichelle, who live in Loveland, Colo., and daughters, Sabrena andKelly, who live in Newnan, Georgia. She has three granddaugh- ters, three grandsons, and two great-grandchil- dren. Swanson acknowl- edges that she’s done a wide variety of things throughout her life. “I’mvery lucky,” she said. “I attribute a lot of the things I’ve done to learning how to ride a horse.”

house, before it became a state park, then lived in California andOregon before coming back to Nebraska. Theymade their home inHershey, and after Swede passed away in 2004, she spent another five years in Hershey beforemoving toNorth Platte. She’s a chartermem- ber of the Velvet Spurs and theMiss Rodeo Nebraska Association, is a Cody Cavalrymember, and, last December, was inducted into theMiss RodeoAmericaHall of Fame. But Swanson doesn’t volunteer for the glory. “It’s wonderful to re- ceive the awards,” she said. “But I never joined anything to attain an award. It was to help the cause and the people.”

traveledmore with rodeo than she did, often going withHarrisonHalligan, another North Platte steer wrestler. As she learned to ride and run barrels, her husband told her, “you’d do better if you kept your eyes open when you run barrels,” she laughed. At the rodeo, which will take place Aug. 5-8 this year, she has carried the American flag, par- ticipatedwith the Velvet Spurs and helped orga- nize the queens as they carry flags in the grand entry. She even carries a sponsor flag herself nowand then, but has to borrowa horse froma friend, as she no longer owns one. She and Swede lived in a little house near Buffalo Bill Cody’s

as a judge for theMiss Buffalo Bill Rodeo pag- eant, andwhen the state title contest wasmoved, she worked to have it incorporated into the Buffalo Bill Rodeo. Swanson got involved with theMiss Rodeo America pageant in 1991, serving as the Nebraska national director for a de- cade and on the executive board for six years. For years, she was in charge of the Nebraska queen, from the time the young womanwas crowned in June till 18months lat- er, when she competed for the title of Miss Rodeo America inDecember in Las Vegas. She also volunteered her time on several Miss Rodeo America pageant com- mittees. Swanson isn’t scared of work; she chairs theMiss RodeoNebraska scholar- ship committee, helping raise funds and gather- ing items for the auction. Last year, the association gave out close to $8,000 in scholarships, she said. When Swede began steer wrestling, she learned to barrel race. The two of themcom- peted at regional rodeos across the area. Swede

horses tomeet. She joined the group, which became the Velvet Spurs. “I had never ridden a horse till I joined upwith them,” she said. The next spring, in 1969, NLDmoved from Lincoln toNorth Platte and the Velvet Spurs, in- cluding Swanson, rode in the parade. Little did Swanson know that she would not miss another NLD celebration for the next 52 years. She and Swede were involvedwithNLD and the rodeo in a variety of ways. As pork produc- ers, they helpedwith the pork breakfast that was part of NLD. She re- members transporting eggs cooked at a school in North Platte across town to themall, in their vehi- cle, whichwas the perfect fit for the tall warming dishes. Swanson became an NLDboardmember in 1990, the onlywoman on the 12-person board. She served four years, with the last year as president. It was during her ten- ure on the NLDboard that theMiss Rodeo Nebraska pageant moved fromBurwell toNorth Platte. She had served

led to roles with rodeo

By RUTH NICOLAUS For The North Platte Telegraph Horses changed Mardee Swanson’s life for the better, enriching it with hobbies, friends and travel. The North Platte NebraskalandDays cele- bration, the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, theMiss Rodeo Nebraska Association and theMiss Rodeo woman, a long-time volunteer with the AmericaAssociation, grewup a “city girl” in Curtis. She and her husband Swedemarried in 1960, and later became friends withAlbert and Connie Holmes, who introduced them to rodeo. Holmes, a steer wrestler, thought Swede should try it. He did, “and fell in love with it,”Mardee said. “He competed for the next 35 years of his life.” She hadwanted to learn to ride, and in 1968, sawa newspaper ad in- vitingwomenwho loved

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ter than I started.” Every horse, including Nutrena’s Rage, is a learn- ing experience, he said. “I’m always wanting to improve my rides and after that ride, I knew there were things I could have done better. I just try to get better every ride.” The 27 year old competed in youth rodeo but in high school, turned to the main- stream sports instead. He played a lot of baseball, but during his college days, real- ized that the baseball route was about to end. “I’d always wanted to ride bucking horses,” he said, “and when my base- ball career was about over, I wanted to take a new path. A door opened up and I took the opportunity. I’m sure happy I decided to take it.” Pollock had ridden two saddle broncs when he called Cody DeMers, rodeo coach at the College of Southern Idaho, and a former saddle bronc rider, and asked if he could compete collegiately. “He asked about my experi- ence, and then said he’d let me know if a spot opened up on the team,” Pollock said. After someone else showed DeMers a video of Pollock on a bronc, DeMers called him and offered a spot. To make the most of his rodeo eligibility, Pollock at- tended the junior college for six years. “I have six as- sociate degrees,” he said, laughing. His brother, an engineer, jokes with him. “He says, shoot, for as long as you went to school, you should have a doctorate.” Pollock ranches in the Twin Falls, Idaho, area and is building up a herd of Black Angus cattle. First buckle he won: “I’ve won a bunch, but the one that sticks out the most is an all-around buckle (won at age 8 in Spring Creek, Nevada, at a junior rodeo.) That’s the one I wear when I’m riding bucking horses. Everybody gives me a hard time and tells me it’s a ju- nior buckle for ages 8 to 11 but I say, it says all-around

money in the previous weeks, so the North Platte checks were a big help. “It had been slow and I was try- ing to get things rolling.” Frey was aboard a horse owned by Charlene Neal, the aunt of fellow steer wres- tler and travel buddy Riley Duvall. Old Gray, a 19- year old, was perfect. “We were needing horsepower last year, when that horse fell into our laps,” he said. “Charlene let us haul him, so it worked out perfect.” The horse is ideal for the steer wrestling. “He’ll take a lot of hauling and he’ll give you his heart every time, even if he’s tired. He’s going to try to give you a chance to win. He’s a good old tough horse.” The 28-year-old cow- boy has competed in North Platte eight times but this was the first time he’d won money there. “I’d never won a dime out of that sucker,” he said. “It was one of those (rodeos) that haunted me be- cause I like that rodeo. It was nice to turn it around, that’s for sure.” Frey grew up around a Buffalo Bill Rodeo buck- le. His dad, Shawn Frey, was a bareback rider who made the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three years (1988-1990) and won the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in the late 1990s. “My mom wore that buckle when I was a little kid,” he said. He has competed at the Prairie Circuit Finals three times. First buckle he won: “I was the 6 and under Mid- South Youth Rodeo Cowboys Association pole bending champ. I won a saddle and a buckle and I was pretty ex- cited for that.” Frey rode with two fractured wrists at the finals when he won the buckle. “I got bucked off a few weeks before the finals and went into the finals with two red casts.” Favorite sports team: The Oklahoma Sooners Favorite meals his mom

Photo courtesy of Donald Christner

The 2019 Buffalo Bill Rodeo tie-down champion Caddo Lewallen competes.

purchased from a man who had only put 60 days of rid- ing on her, and Caddo and his father Kerry did the rest. “We’ve done everything else on her, from the first time I roped on her to this day,” he said. Lewallen was rodeoing on her by the time she was a 4-year-old. The bay mare can be a handful, he said. “Every day is a new day. The only time she’s real gentle is when she’s around my two kids. Around me, she has a pretty bad attitude.” He estimates he’s compet- ed in North Platte a dozen times and won the tie-down in the early 2000s. He has competed at the Prairie Circuit Finals 10 times. First buckle he won: “In 1991, when I was 8 years old, at a breakaway roping in a junior rodeo association back home.” Favorite sports teams: The Oklahoma Sooners and the New England Patriots Favorite meal his wife Christy makes: Chicken en- chiladas

Most influential peo- ple in his life: “My mother and father (Vicki and Kerry Lewallen). My dad’s pretty much my hero. I’ve always looked up to him. And my mom is my go-to source for anything I’ve got going on.” Saddle bronc riding champ: Mitch Pollock Mitch Pollock got a late start in riding bucking hors- es, but he’s making up for it. The Winnemucca, Nevada, native went to his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last year and also won the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, too. In North Platte, he scored 88 points aboard a Beutler and Son Rodeo horse named Nutrena’s Rage. It wasn’t his best ride, even though he won the rodeo. “Personally, I could have rode that horse a little better,” he said. “That horse was really electric that day. She had me popped out of the saddle in the first two jumps but I was able to sit back down and finish bet-

and dad make: “It has to be two of them: my mom’s craw- fish fettuccini and my dad’s gumbo. My mom (Gaye) is from Oklahoma and my dad (Shawn) is from Louisiana.” Most influential people in his life: “Definitely my mom and dad. I grew up in a rodeo family and that’s all I wanted to do. They support- ed me one hundred percent, through thick and thin.” Tie-down roping champ: Caddo Lewallen Caddo Lewallen won the tie-down roping at the 2019 Buffalo Bill Rodeo with a time of 17.6 seconds on two head. The Morrison, Oklahoma, cowboy made a 9.8 second run in the first round and followed that with a tie for first place in the second round (7.8 seconds) to win the average (17.6 seconds on two head). He was aboard an 11-year- old mare he’s owned for the past nine years. Chick was

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partnerships, due to the fact that we grew up in the same house.” When they were kids, they played rodeo. “We’ve made the same runs since we were little kids. We always said (while playing), this is the steer that counts to win the world or the NFR,” he said. “It’s been easy to transfer that to the professional lev- el.” The thing he likes best about Carson, Kellan said, is him “being my best friend. He’s always been there when stuff wasn’t going right or I needed somebody to talk to. He’s in my corner one hundred percent, never shaking his head and saying, ‘I wish I had somebody else’” to rope with. First saddle he won: “It was for the dummy roping at the Spicer Gripp (in Hereford, Texas). I was 12 years old.” Favorite sports teams: “The LA Lakers and Le Bron James, and the Denver Nuggets. I’m more of a bas- ketball fan than a football fan.” Favorite meal his mom Jenny makes: “She makes a lot of good meals, but when I go home she always makes sure to cook me bar- becue meatballs or ham chowder. Those are probably my favorite meals.” Most influential people in his life: “In roping, my dad (2011 world champion team roper Jhett Johnson). And my mom (Jenny) is my biggest supporter. She doesn’t get enough credit. She does a lot for me and my brothers (including elev- en-year-old Kress). Honestly, we have the best support group anybody could ask for, between my mom and dad and Kress.” Team roping The Buffalo Bill Rodeo was Carson Johnson’s first win of his pro rodeo career. He heeled for his brother, Kellan, and the two turned in a time of 5.0 seconds. “We went over there (to North Platte) early that day and roped steers at (Cooper) White’s,” he said. “We had a medium steer who wasn’t that great but wasn’t horrible, either. I knew (Kellan) would get it on him fast. When the steer left the chute, he broke into a left lead. Kellan reached and got him, and my horse worked good. The steer slid around the cor- champ (heeler): Carson Johnson

cowboy on it and that means a lot to me.” Favorite sports team: Nevada Wolf Pack (University of Nevada- Reno) and favorite athlete is Tom Brady. “If you look at him, you would never imagine him winning six Super Bowls. What he’s done for the franchise in New England is amaz- ing. I think he’s a bad-ass.” Favorite meals his wife, mom and great-grandma make: “My great-grandma (Carol McErquiaga) used to make a rice pudding that was my absolute favorite. I love my mom’s (Tammy Pollock) Basque cabbage soup. And shoot, my wife (Jordan), everything she makes is good. I can’t complain. I’ll eat any- thing my wife puts in front of me.” Most influential people in his life: “My parents, Tammy and Kelly. They’ve supported me, since day one, in anything I’ve chosen to do.” Pollock, at his first WNFR this past year, didn’t win a check till round nine. “When I was struggling (at the WNFR), I think it affected them more than it did me. I wasn’t real- ly worried about it, but for them to watch their son at his first Finals, and living a dream, it was so tough. That showed me how much they care for me.” Team roping champ (header): Kellan Johnson Brothers Kellan and Carson Johnson wrapped up a team roping title at the 2019 Buffalo Bill Rodeo. The men were headed back from the College National Finals Rodeo, where they had competed for Casper (Wyoming) College. They made a 5.0 second run to win North Platte in what Kellan called “a blur. I got it on him pretty fast, and when I turned off, Carson heeled him. It was a good run.” Kellan, the older of the two, just finished his junior year and is ma- joring in psychology, “so I can keep my mental game sharp,” he said. “It really helps with the mental aspect of rodeoing. You see how the brain works and how it grasps things.” Roping with his brother is ex- tra special. “It’s one of the coolest things,” he said. “My brother’s ex- tremely good at what he does, so that makes it easier for us to rope to- gether. We’re a lot closer than most

Photo courtesy of Donald Christner Mitch Pollock won the saddle bronc competition at the 2019 Buffalo Bill Rodeo.

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Bull riding champ: Parker Breding Parker Breding’s first place finish in North Platte last year was a shot in the arm for the Montana bull rider. He’d had a “hit or miss” winter, and was due for a big win, and it came when he scored 83 points on the Beutler and Son bull Bullet Proof. “He’s the kind of bull you would want at a Beutler ro- deo,” Breding said. “He had a good day.” When he’s in a slump, Breding gives himself “men- tal intervention.” Earlier in the 2019 season, he hadn’t done well. “I’d been getting bucked off by thinking too much and trying too hard. It would make something get out of whack,” he said. “It takes a weight off your shoulders to mentally prepare for a ride the day be- fore, or during the drive, but once you get there, you don’t think about it again and trust yourself to react the way you need to.” The self-talk helps him have more fun, too. “I’ve been enjoying hanging out with the guys. I put my rodeo time into talking with them rather than sitting there and getting worried. It makes my trips more fun and shows in my performance as well.” It was the second time for Breding to compete at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, which he likes because his dad, a former bull rider, loved com- ing to North Platte. “My dad always liked it. I figured I wanted to add it to the sched- ule this year.” The 27-year-old cowboy fol- lows in the footsteps of his dad, Scott Breding, who qualified for theWNFR five times (1994- 1997, 1999), the first time at age 31, “which was a feat in itself,” Parker said. His dad loves to hear fromhis son after his rides, and is proud of him. “I know he is,” Parker said. “He doesn’t say those words, but you can hear the excitement in his voice when I call himwith good news, or when he gets to go withme and helpme. He gets more excited than I do.”

ner and I heeled him fast.” Roping with his older brother, Kellan, is great, Carson said, but they’re close outside the arena, too. “No matter what happens, we still get along good.” Kellan is good to go down the road with. “He’s fun to trav- el with. Anybody who knows Kellan knows he’s a fun guy to hang around with.” Carson was riding his good horse Itchy in North Platte, a horse he rode near- ly all year. He’s owned the thirteen-year-old for the last two and a half years. “He’s been great for me,” he said. North Platte was the first professional buckle that Carson won, and he wears it all the time, “unless I’m working around the ranch,” he said. The son of 2011 world champion team roper Jhett Johnson, Carson just fin- ished his freshman year at Casper (Wyoming) College. First buckle he won: “It was at the World Junior Championship dummy rop- ing in Las Vegas when I was five.” His dad, Jhett, was competing at the National Finals Rodeo the same year. Favorite sports teams: the Los Angeles Clippers Favorite meal his mom Jenny makes: “It would have to be something my mom makes called ‘heav- en in a circle.’ It’s cinnamon rolls put in a circle, and she makes a caramel sauce she puts on it. She makes it from scratch.” Most influential person in his life: “My dad (Jhett). Everything I’ve done is be- cause of him. He’s helped me so much with my roping, and outside the arena, too, with life situations. He’s always been there for me to talk to. Barrel racing champ: Shali Lord When Shali Lord’s barrel horse is going to run at a ro- deo, he likes the music to be loud.

Photo courtesy of Donald Christner

Shali Lord competes in barrel racing at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in 2019.

talented athletes. I really enjoy watching amazing ath- letes.” Favorite meals her family makes: “We like steak and potatoes and sal- ad. That’s a favorite at our house. My husband does the grilling. My mom is a really good cook, and my moth- er-in-law, too. Everybody in our family is a good cook, so we’re spoiled with great food all the time.” Most influential people in her life: “My husband and my mom and dad (Jim and Lesli Nichols). They are huge supporters. They’re al- ways very helpful, in and out of rodeo, with our kids, and driving. My husband is sup- portive even though he can’t always go because he’s at the ranch working.”

Lord and her husband, Phy Lord, ranch; they have two children, ages 8 and 3. She has qualified for the WNFR twice (2005, 2019) and for the Mountain States Circuit Finals eleven times. Most memorable mo- ment in youth rodeo: “It was at the Little Britches Rodeo Finals when I was 12 or 13 years old.” Her bar- rel horse was injured so she needed to borrow a mount. Four-time world champi- on Kristie Peterson offered her famous barrel horse, Bozo. “She said, I should let you ride Bozo, and she did,” Lord remembered. “It was so cool.” Favorite sports team: The Oklahoma Sooner foot- ball team, and any gifted athletes. “I like to watch any

Can Man, her 11-year-old stallion, carried the Lamar, Colorado, cowgirl to a win at the 2019 Buffalo Bill Rodeo with a time of 17.44 seconds. Can Man, whose registered name is Freckles Ta Fame, is owned by Spitz Quarter Horses. Ashley Schafer futu- ritied on the stallion till he was 5, when Lord started ro- deoing on him. The horse, a chestnut, is great to be around, she said. “He’s really laid back and he has a great personality. He loves his job, that’s for sure.” He also loves the Wild West Arena and loud mu- sic. “We’ve always done well there,” she said. “We were in the performance. He likes the loud music and the noise and the crowd, and that makes him run better.”

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