GERRY — For the second straight evening a standing room only crowd of rodeo fans turned out to watch some of the closest competition of the week in the closing performance of the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department’s 77th annual professional rodeo on Saturday night.
The bareback bronc event led off the excitement with a cowboy from Ft. Scoot, Kansas, Grant Worthington, who is paying for his college expenses by rodeoing, riding a bronc named Southern Comfort for 72 points, only to see Kade Sonnier from Carencro, Louisiana, top that with a 76-point ride for his third win of the week in this event.
After a bad night on Friday, the team ropers were at the top of their game with four teams roping the head and heels of their steers with the four being separated by only six-tenths of a second. Leading the way was the team of Eric Fabian, Gansevoort, New York, and Derek Carey, Valley Falls, New York, with a time of 6.1 seconds. They were followed in second by Waylon Cameron, Oxford, Pennsylvania, and Scott Brown, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, at 6.4. The other two fast times were 6.9 and 7.0 seconds.
The cowgirls in the breakaway roping also had tight competition as the top two were only two-tenths of a second apart. Tori Roberto, Swedesboro, New Jersey, was first at 3.2 seconds while Cheyenne Chamberlain, Fort Ann, New York, posted a time of 3.4.
The judges had a tough time in the saddle bronc event as they finally decided on a winner by only one point. Shea Fournier Raceland, Louisiana, rode his bronc, Painted Too Blue, for 81 points while Ray Hostetler from Summerfield, Florida, stayed aboard a mare called Pretty Girl for 80 points.
Again, the cowgirls’ barrel racing was very competitive as only six-tenths of a second determined the winner. Jodi Lyn Colton, who traveled all the way from Cullman, Alabama, guided her mount around the cloverleaf pattern of the barrels in 15.24 seconds, the fastest run of the week. Joanna Reid, Thorndike, Maine, was second at 15.64.
The stiff competition slowed itself quite a bit in the steer wrestling as only two cowboys were successful, and they were separated by more than ten seconds. AJ Williams, New Providence, Pennsylvania, wrestled his steer to the arena dirt in one of the fastest times of the week, 5.7 seconds. Coy Dyer, Franklinville, New Jersey, had the other qualified time at 16.9.
Starting too soon was a big problem for the tie-down ropers. There were four cowboys who were successful in roping and tying their calves. However, three of the four had their horses break the “barriers” that gives the calves a head start, resulting in a 10-second penalty, allowing JC Fisher, Milton, Pennsylvania, to win easily with a time of 11 seconds flat. The crowd was disappointed as their favorite, Carmine Nastri, who at 61 years old is still roping and has been the First Frontier champion 24 times, tied his calf in 11.3 seconds but was one of those penalized. Tim Naylor, Hancock, Maryland, saw his horse receive an ovation when it was announced that his outstanding horse is still competing at age 27.
Even though the bull riders were able to ride three bulls for the eight seconds, the competition in this event was very lopsided as the final score for the four performances was Bulls 44, Cowboys 7. Grayson Cole, Fredonia, Pennsylvania, rode Jamie’s Joker for the win with 77 points. Close behind was Cody McCandless, Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, with a 75 point score on Blackjack. A Brazilian cowboy, Vitor Rigotto, stayed aboard his bull, but the bull performed badly so the judges scored the ride a very poor 57 points. He was offered a re-ride, but chose to be satisfied with his third place money.
Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell says he and his committee are very pleased with the support for this event as early estimates suggest that about 10,000 fans turned out for the four-night event. He added that within weeks, the rodeo committee will begin work on next year’s rodeo which is scheduled for August 2 – 6. All proceeds benefit the Gerry Fire Department.
The complete roundup of winners in each event and statistics for this rodeo will be published in Tuesday’s newspaper. News, information, and photos are available on the rodeo Facebook page or the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org.