The final night of competition in the Gerry Fire Department's 68th annual PRCA provided the capacity crowd with some of the best efforts of the week with more than 70 pro cowboys and cowgirls doing their best in the closing performance to win a share of the $35,000 prize money as champions were crowned in the seven traditional rodeo events.
Some of the best action came in the team roping as two New York cowboys, Eric Fabian from Schenectady and his partner Derek Carey from Mechanicville posted the fastest time seen in years in this rodeo, tying their steer in an amazing 3.9 seconds. They failed to tie their second steer, allowing two other New York ropers, Darren Morgan, Fort Edward, and Shawn Quinn, Schuylerville, to jump into first place, posting times of 6.6 and 6.5 for a combined 13.1 seconds total.
The steer wrestling saw four times of less than six seconds, the fastest by Lee Ellsworth, Hudson Falls, NY, at 4.4 seconds, followed by a 5.5 throw on his second steer, leaving him at 9.9 seconds, just one-tenth of a second behind the winning time of Chad Stoltfus from Rising Sun, Md., posted on opening night.
In the tie down roping a Michigan cowboy, Cody McCartney, tied his two calves on Wednesday in one of the fastest times ever here with a combined total of 15.8 seconds to hold on to first place as no other cowboy was able to even come close to his mark.
Nineteen-year-old Taylor Young from Carlisle, Pa., took over first place in the barrel racing on Thursday night and saw her time of 15.57 seconds hold up until this final performance when Nickie Stoltfus of McClure, Pa., moved her into second place , circling the barrels in 15.30 seconds and winning the event by less than three-tenths of a second.
A Tennessee cowboy, Tyler Waltz, had the best combined times for the week in his two rides in the bareback competition, scoring 156 total points.on opening night. No one else was able to ride two broncs successfully until the closing performance when a young cowboy from Lake Lucerne, NY, Josh Butler, scored 55 and 68 points for a 123 total, leaving him far short of Waltz's winning score.
Jacobs Crowley, who hails from College Station, Tex., scored 155 Friday night on his two horses in the saddle bronc event only to see a former national champion, JT Hitch, Stilesville, Ind., post the top ride of the week with 80 points and follow that with a 75 to tie Crawley for the title.
The Painted Pony bulls refused to let up on closing night, throwing all of the cowboys to the arena dirt with no qualified rides. Of the 38 bulls which came out of the chutes during the week, there were only three cowboys who stayed on their bulls for the required eight seconds.
Chris Prange, Cochranville, Pa., and Scott Sellers, Townsend, Del., tied for first with identical scores of 80 points.
Again the fans were entertained by the comedy of Mike "Scooter" Smith as well as the performance of his pet llama Chili and the outstanding announcing job of Greg Simas who kept the fans well informed of the activities in the arena. The special appearance of trick rider Gena Cox gave the fans a scare as she slipped from her horse but got up and completed her act. The patriotic opening honored the United States military members as well as the firemen, policemen, and medics in attendance. Announcer Simas called them "true heroes". The singing of the National Anthem by six-year-old Gabby Graham got the biggest ovation of the night. The only remaining charter member of the Gerry Fire Department, Ward Tolman, returned from Florida and was honored.
This rodeo is now the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi. And all funds raised go to the support of the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell says that the rodeo was very successful and well received by the fans. He is especially grateful for the excellent weather and the support of the area's rodeo fans.
Final scores and times of all the events as well as the prize money awarded to the top competitors was not available at press time and will be published later.