Atwell honored for his 20 years of leading Gerry Rodeo committee

Submitted Photo Gerry Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell has received an award honoring his 20 years of service in that position.

GERRY – Gerry Rodeo Committee chairman Tom Atwell has recently received a special award for his 20 years of leading the rodeo committee, a “one-of-a-kind” silver cup designed by Montana Silversmiths.

His job as chairman involves year-round work and is a totally volunteer position, which includes meeting monthly with the committee, negotiating contracts with the stock contractor, the announcer, the music director, and the clown and specialty act. There are numerous forms to fill out to get approvals from the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) to conduct the annual rodeo. This is followed by getting sponsors for each of the rodeo events, the chute gates and banners. He then meets with the head chef to order all the food and supplies for the dinners and the concession stands, as well as securing food permits from the County Health Department.

His job also involves physical work such as electrical and plumbing repairs, cutting and splitting wood for cooking the beef, upkeep on the bleachers, preparing the arena for the competition, as well as taking care of the numerous problems that pop up unexpectedly. Atwell estimates that he is involved in a minimum of 300 rodeo-related phone calls each year.

Atwell accomplishes all of this while working a full-time job as a maintenance mechanic at the Jamestown Airport, in addition to serving as the first assistant chief and an EMT for the Gerry Fire Department. He says he is a third-generation worker at the rodeo and has been involved since he was 5 years old. His adult twin sons are now very involved in the rodeo, and Tom is proud that his 5-year-old granddaughter is already helping out as a fifth-generation of the Atwell family to be a part of the rodeo volunteers.

Atwell says he is grateful for this honor, but being able to give back to this community where he was born and raised is his motivation, as well as a promise he made to his mother, Temple Atwell, before she passed away 13 years ago from breast cancer. She was a lifelong supporter of the rodeo, and she asked him to keep the rodeo going as long as he could, and he says he is determined to do so. However, he adds that there is no way this event could happen without the help of his dedicated committee members and the many volunteers who work so hard to make the rodeo possible.

Submitted Photo

This summer will mark the 79th consecutive year that professional rodeo has come to Gerry, making this the longest-running rodeo east of the Mississippi and will feature more than 200 professional cowboys and cowgirls competing in eight exciting rodeo events for $ 50,000 in prize money over four evenings, July 31-Aug. 3. It will also feature the traditional beef dinners as well as a midway with more than 20 venders. Additional information is available at the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org or by phone at 716-985-4847. All profits go to the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department.


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