For the husband and wife team of Shawn and Shana Graham, owners of Painted Pony Pro Rodeo, coming to Gerry for the Fire Department's 68th consecutive PRCA rodeo Aug. 1-4, will be a much different trip.
Previously they had come to Gerry as contestants, he as a bronc rider and she as a barrel racer. This time, however, they come for the first time as the newly-selected stock contractors and producers of the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi along with all the responsibilities that go with the job.
Among their many duties will be bringing more than 150 head of stock and the chutes and pens needed, registering the more than 170 contestants, hiring the announcer, the clown, the bullfighter, and the specialty acts; and most importantly, organizing the entire performance each night so that the show operates in its most efficient and entertaining manner.
Shawn and Shana Graham, owners of Painted Pony Rodeo.
Shawn has always had rodeo in his blood as his father was a bull fighter and steer wrestler while his mother was a barrel racer. It was natural that he became a bronc rider. Unfortunately, an injury cut his riding career short and he began making a living as a bovine (cow) hoof trimmer. Along with this, he began leasing bulls to the Painted Pony Rodeo. In the process he found that Shana, a friend of his from high school was working in the rodeo office and the romance developed.
Eleven years ago, the owner of the Painted Pony Rodeo, which was started 58 years ago in Lake Luzerne, decided to retire and Shawn became the new owner. At that time, the rodeo there held three performances weekly during the summer months in their modern arena. Since that time, Shawn has continued that tradition while branching out to other areas of the Northeast and now is putting on approximately 70 performances each year as well as providing stock for the First Frontier Finals in Harrisburg.
While this was going on, Shawn and Shana were married and now have three children who travel with them - Gabriel, 6, Alexis, 4 and Trevor, 3. Gabriel is already performing as she will enter the arena on horseback each night and sing the National Anthem. The Grahams say they feel honored to have been chosen to produce this rodeo with its long tradition of excellence and will work hard to make it even better in the years to come.
The rodeo opens Wednesday, Aug. 1 and continues nightly through Saturday, Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. The famous beef barbeque dinners are served prior to each show beginning at 5 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. Additional information is available at the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org or by phone at 985-4847. The Painted Pony website is www.paintedponyrodeo.com.