The 91st edition of the rodeo drew an estimated 47,000 fans to five performances over four days, inclduing an all-time record 15,500 to the second of two shows on Independence Day.
Mount Vernons Trevor Knowles has been coming to the Molalla Buckeroo Rodeo practically every year since he turned pro in 1996 and has witnessed the evolution of this towns signature Fourth of July holiday event.
He likes what he sees, and says it keeps him and many of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Associations other top cowboys coming back for more.
Knowles made two appearances in the steer wrestling competition during last weeks record-breaking 91st Molalla Buckeroo PRCA Rodeo. He won Saturdays final go-round with a time of 4.3 seconds, placed second in the average with a 9.5 on two head, and earned a check for $3,487.
The earnings helped propel him ahead of four-time world champion Luke Branquinho and to the top of the current world standings in steer wrestling.
This is a good rodeo and it has just been getting better over the years, Knowles said. "Ive been coming to this arena since 1996 in high school rodeos. Everyone thinks Texas is the big rodeo state, but there are some hellacious rodeo fans and a bunch of good cowboys in this state, so it sure is nice to be here competing.
An estimated 47,000 fans turned out to watch five performances over four days, including an all-time record, standing-room-only crowd of 15,500 at Friday nights second of two Independence Day shows, making this one of the most successful rodeos Molalla has ever had.
We knew this year was going to be special, but we didnt expect it to be record-setting and be as special as it was, said Justin Keeney, a director with the Molalla Buckeroo Association, which oversees the rodeo. Its been truly exceptional. Its great. We love it. We all do. So, we honestly cant complain.
Ive been working here close to 20 years, and this year was, by far, one of our best years. Friday night was a testament to the hard work that everyone puts in here, from the cowboys, to the animals they compete on, and the staff and everyone else here. Its been phenomenal.
Weve got the fans to thank for that, too, because without them, we couldnt put this on.
Buckeroo fans didnt get a chance to see 19-time world champion Trevor Brazile, who skipped Molalla in favor of appearances at St. Paul and Hermiston on Thursday, but they enjoyed seeing several other highly-ranked cowboys. Among the highlights:
-- Three-time world champion Kaycee Feild from Spanish Fork, Utah, won the bareback riding competition after taking Big Bend rodes Commotion Toddy for an 85-point ride during Fridays afternoon performance.
-- Aaron Pass of Dallas, Texas, took top honors in the bull riding with an 88-point ride aboard Flying 5 Rodeos Waakko on Friday night and earned the weeks biggest check of $4,847, while 2012 world champion Cody Teel from Kountze, Texas, had an 87-point ride Wednesday and finished second.
-- Lane Siggins of Ruidoso Downs, N.M., claimed the Buckeroos all-around cowboy honors after he and partner B.J. Campbell of Agiula, Ariz., won Friday nights team roping event with a time of 7.6 seconds. They also finished in a tie with Jake Stanley of Hermiston and Bucky Campbell of Benton City, Wash., for the two-head average at 13.3 seconds.
-- Pamela Capper of Cheney, Wash., took home a check for $3,179 after winning the barrel racing event with a time 17.20 seconds during Friday nights performance. She then went to the Eugene Rodeo for Saturday mornings slack round and ran a 17.16 to take top honors there, which was worth another $2,071.
Knowles, a 10-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, was among the cowboys who bounced from one rodeo to another last week, starting Wednesday afternoon at the St. Paul Rodeo, followed by a stop in Molalla Wednesday night.
On Thursday, Knowles was in Livingston, Mont., for the Livingston Roundup where he won the steer wrestling with a time of 3.3 seconds and made $4,845.
On Friday, he was in Cody, Wyo., for the Cody Stampede, but didnt cash.
Then we drove all night to get back to Molalla by Saturday afternoon, Knowles said. Im leaving from here tonight to head to Calgary.
What impact did the Molalla crowd have on Saturday nights performance?
Before I go, it doesnt matter, Knowles said. But when you get done and you hear the crowd, then you kind of realize, Look at all these people who are here to watch. Prior, youre just focused on the task at hand, but Im glad everybody showed up and is supporting rodeo.
The crowd was a big part of the story for Friday nights fourth of five performances when a record number of fans turned out to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Theres no way to deny the adrenalin and enthusiasm and electricity that a crowd like that has on a rodeo, PRCA announcer Kelly Kenney said. Theres no way that you can physically, emotionally or mentally deny it. Every cowboy who crawls on his animal and before he nods his head, he can feel that emotion thats coming from this crowd.
Friday night, the stars aligned. The weather was perfect, we had the rides and the times, we had the right cowboys, the right barrel man, the music was perfect everything worked. And then you top that off with it being our nations birthday and a record attendance, thats a night that I will remember the rest of my life, theres no doubt about it.
Tim Anderson, the Molalla Buckeroo Association president, never stopped smiling.
I cant be happier and more proud of our rodeo and all of our people, Anderson said. When I see the stands packed like they were and there arent very many empty seats, that tells me that the Buckeroo is doing its job. And if you looked, this place was full of families.
People like to joke, Hey, are you ready for the Fourth? The answer always is, It doesnt matter if were ready or not. The cowboys are coming, the animals are coming, and the fans are coming, theres going to be a show. But everything came together extremely well this year, and a lot of the credit goes to a lot of volunteers who have really worked hard.
There were some fans who complained about not being able to find a seat Friday night. Anderson said some of those people were given refunds plus complimentary tickets to Saturdays finale, but that did little to detract from what was a monumental night in Buckeroo history.
The key is, I have to learn from it, and were going to adapt next year, Anderson said. Ive already got more bleachers that Im looking at and where were going to put them, because if were going to have 10-, 15-, 16,000 people in here, weve got to come up with more seats. Its a fact of life.
Its incredible how things came together. If Ive got to have problems, these are the problems I want to solve. How do I keep more people happy? How do I get more people in here? Short of the over-crowding, we really didnt have any problems. It was the happiest crowd weve ever had.