When the 69th annual Gerry Fire Department's PRCA rodeo opens this Wednesday at 8 p.m., in their arena just north of Jamestown, a number of changes will be in place to improve the event for the fans.
The most obvious change will be the return of the Saturday afternoon matinee at 2 p.m. Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell says this change is in response to requests from senior citizens, groups of handicapped persons and families with small children for whom late hours create difficulty. The matinee is in addition to the nightly shows at 8 p.m. through Saturday, Aug. 3.
One of the problems in rodeos across the country has been the lack of bareback and saddle bronc riders. In an effort to solve this situation here in Gerry, Shane Graham of Painted Pony Pro Rodeo, the stock contractor for this rodeo, has posted an additional $3,000 of his own money in each of those two events to make it more attractive for cowboys to travel here. As a result, 40 riders have paid their entry fees to compete in those two events, the largest number in recent years.
The kids are getting even more attention this year as the Gerry Rodeo is a family affair.
Kids are receiving special attention through the free kids' rodeo at 11 a.m. Saturday morning and each performance will also allow kids to enter the arena to participate in the "calf scramble." Wednesday has reduced prices for kids, plus a free kid's ticket is available online at the rodeo website. In addition, the midway will feature sand art, face painting and pony rides for the kids, and cowboys and cowgirls, as well as the clowns and bull fighters, will sign autographs following each performance. A special treat for both kids and adults will be the singing of the National Anthem by six-year-old Gabriel Graham.
To keep up with today's technology and to keep fans from standing in line, the rodeo committee has made arrangements for tickets for both the rodeo and the beef barbeque dinners to be purchased online at ticketfly.com. Tickets will also be available at the rodeo office during the day or prior to each performance.
With a record number of contestants and prize money, Atwell says he hopes these changes will help make this "the best rodeo in our 69 years." This is now the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi and all proceeds go the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department.
The "world famous" barbeque dinners" are served nightly at 5 p.m. with the midway opening at the same time. Additional information can be received at the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org or by phone at 985-4847 or 1-888-985-4847.