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Molalla Buckeroo Rodeo turns out better than organizers expected

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.


by: JIM BESEDA/MOLALLA PIONEER - Levi Berry of Morgan, Utah, went for a 71-point ride on Flying 5 Rodeo's No. 340 during Friday afternoon 91st Molalla Buckeroo PRCA Rodeo.Mount Vernon’s 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 town’s signature Fourth of July holiday event.

He likes what he sees, and says it keeps him and many of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s other top cowboys coming back for more.

Knowles made two appearances in the steer wrestling competition during last week’s record-breaking 91st Molalla Buckeroo PRCA Rodeo. He won Saturday’s 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. "I’ve 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.”

by: JIM BESEDA/MOLALLA PIONEER - Bullrider Jeff Askey of Martin, Tenn., gets punished by Flying 5 Rodeo's No. 958 during last week's 91st Molalla Buckeroo PRCA Rodeo. Martin sustained only minor injuries, while his 66-point ride fell short of winning any prize money. 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 night’s 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 didn’t 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. “It’s been truly exceptional. It’s great. We love it. We all do. So, we honestly can’t complain.

“I’ve 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. It’s been phenomenal.

“We’ve got the fans to thank for that, too, because without them, we couldn’t put this on.”

Buckeroo fans didn’t 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 rode’s Commotion Toddy for an 85-point ride during Friday’s afternoon performance.

-- Aaron Pass of Dallas, Texas, took top honors in the bull riding with an 88-point ride aboard Flying 5 Rodeo’s Waakko on Friday night and earned the week’s 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 Buckeroo’s all-around cowboy honors after he and partner B.J. Campbell of Agiula, Ariz., won Friday night’s 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 night’s performance. She then went to the Eugene Rodeo for Saturday morning’s slack round and ran a 17.16 to take top honors there, which was worth another $2,071.

by: JIM BESEDA/MOLALLA PIONEER - Australia's Andrew Steiger strikes the classic rodeo pose aboard Big Bend Rodeo's Blue Rose at Friday's 91st Molalla Buckeroo PRCA Rodeo.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 didn’t cash.

“Then we drove all night to get back to Molalla by Saturday afternoon,” Knowles said. “I’m leaving from here tonight to head to Calgary.”

What impact did the Molalla crowd have on Saturday night’s performance?

“Before I go, it doesn’t 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, you’re just focused on the task at hand, but I’m glad everybody showed up and is supporting rodeo.”

The crowd was a big part of the story for Friday night’s fourth of five performances when a record number of fans turned out to celebrate the Fourth of July.

“There’s no way to deny the adrenalin and enthusiasm and electricity that a crowd like that has on a rodeo,” PRCA announcer Kelly Kenney said. “There’s 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 that’s 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 nation’s birthday and a record attendance, that’s a night that I will remember the rest of my life, there’s no doubt about it.”

Tim Anderson, the Molalla Buckeroo Association president, never stopped smiling.

“I can’t 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 aren’t 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 doesn’t matter if we’re ready or not. The cowboys are coming, the animals are coming, and the fans are coming, there’s 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 Saturday’s 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 we’re going to adapt next year,” Anderson said. “I’ve already got more bleachers that I’m looking at and where we’re going to put them, because if we’re going to have 10-, 15-, 16,000 people in here, we’ve got to come up with more seats. It’s a fact of life.

“It’s incredible how things came together. If I’ve 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 didn’t have any problems. It was the happiest crowd we’ve ever had.”

-- Jim Beseda / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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