GERRY - The final day of the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department's 70th annual PRCA rodeo saw extremes in weather conditions for the final two performances, as sunshine and ideal arena conditions greeted the fans and competitors for the 2 p.m. matinee. However, a violent thunderstorm shortly before the evening competition turned the arena into a sea of mud.
The contrast in conditions, however, did not prevent the fans from seeing some outstanding efforts with a number of the pro cowboys and cowgirls moving up in the standings in their events, particularly in the evening, as they battled through the poor conditions to reward the 750 fans who braved the storm.
The steer wrestling event featured two very fast times in the afternoon, with Olin Ellsworth, of Warrensburg, Pa., throwing his steers to the dirt in the two fastest times of the week, 4.1 and 4.2 seconds, to win the event.
Gerry rodeo chairman Tom Atwell (right) presents a set of Montana Silversmith spurs to the tie-down roping champion J.R. Myers, middle. Pictured at left is Myers’ wife Jamie.
However, those competing in the evening conditions gave the fans a number of thrills, as each of them came up covered with mud, bringing a number of loud ovations. Mike Cliver, who hails from Westfield, Pa., survived the mud in the evening to place second in the event at 10.1 seconds.
The mud also made it very difficult for the tie-down ropers and their ropes, but Cody McCartney, out of Ottawa Lake, Mich., refused to give in and posted the fastest time of the week at 8.8 seconds for a combined total on two calves of 20.4 seconds. His effort was not quite good enough though, as he finished just three-tenths of a second behind veteran J.R. Myers, from Felton, Pa., who won the event under ideal conditions in the afternoon at 20.1.
The muddy arena seemed to agree with the team ropers as the fastest time of the week, as well as both the first and second place winners, came from this performance. Rob Toth, from Wolcott, Conn., and Fred Brunelle, from Schuylerville, combined to rope their steer by the horns and heels in just 5.6 seconds. They missed on their second steer, however, opening the door for Eric Fabian, out of Schenectady, and Derek Carey, who is from Monson, Mass., to post times of 7.0 and 6.6 to win the event.
Two of the top scores in the bareback bronc competition came in ideal conditions in the afternoon with Tyler Waltz (Martin, Tenn.) taking first with an 82-point ride on a mare named Lovely Lexi and last year's Rookie of the Year, Tim O'Connell (Zwingle, Iowa) tying Justin Miller's opening-night ride at 81 points.
The saddle bronc event had three successful rides in the matinee, with two Texas cowboys, Casey Maddox from Witchita, and Dean Wadsworth from Ozuna, tying at 77 points. Their efforts, however, were not good enough to catch the 82 points posted by Louisiana's nine-times NFR qualifier and 2012 World Champion, Cody DeMoss, on opening night.
The Painted Pony Rodeo's bulls had scored a shutout until they met up with three Pennsylvania cowboys, who had the only successful rides of the week. On Friday, John Leinaweaver, of Orrtanna, locked up first place, as he rode two bulls and seemed on his way to sweeping all the money in his event until Saturday night in the mud. Nate Brenize, from Pleasant Hall, and Mike Adams, from Oxford, stayed on for the required eight seconds and placed second and third, taking some money out of the pocket of the winner.
Because of the slippery arena, none of the girls in the barrel racing were able to challenge the winning time of 14.81 by Sarah Attea (Camillus) on opening night. Only three of the 63 entries were able to break the 15-second barrier for the week, putting all three of the women over the $1,000 mark in winnings for the week. Second place went to Laura Trumpower (Mercersburg, Pa.) and third to Natalie Davidson (Salem, Ohio).
The All-Around Cowboys Award, which goes to the cowboy who wins the most money while competing in at least two events, went to veteran tie-down and team roper, Carmine Nastri, of Ballston Spa. Nastri has been coming to the Gerry Rodeo since he was a child and has competed here for 37-consecutive years.
The total payout in prize money was $52,411. In addition to prize money, each of the winners received a set of Montana Silversmith engraved spurs from the fire department.
In addition to the rodeo competition, the fans were entertained by the antics of rodeo clown Hollywood Harris, the outstanding job of directing the action in the arena by announcer Greg Simas, and the trick and fancy roping of 14-year-old Cooper Nastri, who is the youngest professional specialty act in rodeo today.
Head chef Bruce Gustafson reported that almost 3,000 barbecue beef dinners were served and total attendance was approximately 5,700. The rodeo is the major source of revenue for the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department, as they answer 350 fire and rescue calls each year. For more information about the rodeo, visit www.gerryrodeo.org.