Rodeo back for seconds for JR Verzain in Fort Madison


  • Chris Faulkner

J.R. Verzain came back for seconds.

The Wyoming cowboy finished second Wednesday in the bareback riding event of the Cinch Shootout at the Tri-State Rodeo Arena.

While other cowboys flew off for other rodeos after the Shootout, Verzain decided to stay one more day. It paid off. He finished second again, scoring an 84, but that, he said, “should pull in a pretty good check.”

In the world of professional rodeos, the standings are based on the amount of money you earn.

Thursday was the first of three days of the traditional rodeo format. It was family night and military night at C.E. “Eddie” Richards Arena.

The special act of Tim “Wild Thang” Lepard and Team Ghost Riders made its first appearance for the week. Capuchin monkeys from Africa ride on border collies and corral sheep into a pen.

It was also the first of three nights of musical entertainment.

Granger Smith sang for the first ever Thursday musical performance by a name entertainer. Tyler Farr will perform tonight, and Frankie Ballard will finish out the rodeo Saturday.

Although Iowans are scarce in the rodeo world, the local Pee Wee Barrel Race was one by Madison Pirri, 11 of Fort Madison. She and Kirsten Walz were the two Fort Madison contestants out of the six who qualified Tuesday.

If the boot fits...Granger Smith performed the first main musical act for a Thursday Tri-State Rodeo and invited the audience to remove a boot, in reference to one of his songs.

If the boot fits...Granger Smith performed the first main musical act for a Thursday Tri-State Rodeo and invited the audience to remove a boot, in reference to one of his songs.


Bareback Riding

Round 1: 1. Will Lowe (Fort Madison’s Longshot from Cervi Championship) 89; 2. Tanner Aus 87.5; 3. Winn Ratliff 87; 4. Jessy Davis and Ty Breuer 85 pts; 6. Tyler Scales 84 pts; Wes Stevenson 79 pts.

Shoot-out Round: 1. Tanner Aus (CINCH’s Gander Goose) 91 pts, $10,000; 2. Will Lowe 90 pts, $1,000; 3. Winn Ratliff No Score $500.


Steer Wrestling

Round 1: 1. Casey Martin 4.49; 2. Hunter Cure 4.85; 3. Trell Etbauer 5.7; 4. Nick Guy 5.84; 5. Bray Armes 6.89; 6. Ty Lang and Sean Mulligan No Time.

Shoot-out Round: 1. Trell Etbauer 4.11 $10,000; 2. Casey Martin 4.48 $1000; 3. Hunter Cure 4.87 $500.


Team Roping

Round 1: 1. Ryan Von Ahn/ JW Beck 3.03; 2. Nick Sartain/ Rich Skelton 7.01; 3. Adam Rose/ Walt Woodard 7.54; 4. Will George/ JW Nelson, Billy Bob Brown/ Garrett Jess, Erich Rogers/Jordan Olsen, Chary Crawford/Shay Carroll No Time.

Shoot-out Round: 1. Ryan Von Ahn/ JW Beck 4.9 $10,000; 2. Nick Sartain/ Rich Skelton 5.0 $1,000; 3. Adam Rose/ Walt Woodard No Time $500.


Saddle Bronc Riding

Round 1: 1. Wade Sundell (The Natural Vitalix from Cervi) 90 pts; 2. Sam Spreadborough 86 pts; 3. Cody DeMoss 84 pts; 4. Spencer Wright 81 pts; 5. Will Smith 78 pts; 6. Bradley Harter 76 pts; 7. Cort Scheer No Score.

Shoot-out Round: 1. Wade Sundell (Buck Owens from 3 Hill) 89.5 with a 45.5 spur ride $10,000; 2. Sam Spreadborough 89.5 $1,000; 3. Cody DeMoss No Score $500.


Tie-Down Roping

Round 1: 1. Shane Hanchey 8.8; 2. Trent Creager 9.1; 3. Timber Moore 10.14; 4. Erich Rogers 10.59; 5. Cimarron Boardman 10.98; 6. Fred Whitfield 12.1; 7. Clint Cooper No Time.

Shoot-out Round: 1. Shane Hanchey 8.77 $10,000; 2. Timber Moore 9.68 $1,000; 3. Erich Rogers 12.05 $500.


Barrel Racing

Round 1: 1. Mary Walker 17.488; 2. Trula Churchill 17.636; 3. Shelby Janssen 17.714; 4. Shelly Morgan 18.229; 5. Laura Kennedy 18.261; 6. Fallon Taylor 24.807; 7. Jenna Smeenk 25.948.

Shoot-out Round: 1. Mary Walker 17.495 $10,000; 2. Trula Churchill 17.563 $1,000; 3. Shelby Janssen 18.181 $500.


Bull Riding

Round 1: 1. Brett Stall (Rodeohouston’s Big Time from Cervi) 90.5; 2. Shane Proctor 88 pts; 3. Skyler Simms 85.5 pts; 4. Pistol Robinson, John Young, Chandler Bownds, and Jake Weber No Score.

Shoot-out Round: 1. Shane Proctor (Greeley Hat Works Blockhead from Cervi) 89.5 $10,000; 2. Brett Stall 88.5 $1,000; 3. Skyler Simms 86 $500.


Contestant Draft (Each member of winning team received $500):

1. Shane Hanchey: 11,100 pts; 2. Laura Kennedy: 8,100; 3. Winn Ratliff: 6.950; 4. Trent Creager: 5,950; 5. Fallon Taylor: 5,250; 6. Clint Cooper: 5,050; 7. Fred Whitfield: 1,700

Wyoming cowboy impressed

As for Verzain, he’s a local celebrity in his hometown of Cowley, Wyoming, pop. 560.

“I was the only kid in high school who rodeoed,” Verzain said.

This was Verzain’s first rodeo in Fort Madison. Like many other cowboys before him, Verzain was impressed.

“This crowd is amazing,” he said. “It has by far the best grand entry.”

With the season winding down, Verzain said he and his fellow cowboys, “like the excitement.”

He was also impressed by the hospitality. Tony Fullenkamp is in charge of that for the Rodeo Operating Committee.

“This is a good one to come to,” Verzain said of Fort Madison’s pro rodeo.

Tri State Rodeo sets the bar pretty high

  • Kay LeRoy Daily Democrat Columnist

Almost a quarter of a century ago I saw a billboard while riding to Augusta, Georgia, on our weekly shopping trip. Billboards don’t usually catch my eye; too much time on the interstates has kind of soured me on those, but this one was different. This was a bull rider, with the word in red RODEO above it. Well, naturally, I read that one.

The rodeo was coming to Augusta. My girls were young enough to be fun at a the event, and old enough to remember it, so I marked the date to make sure we had tickets. Tickets near the gates to watch the bulls break out with that familiar “Brahman Bull Burst,” and cheer the cowboys as they tried for that 8 second buzzer.

Cowboy boots didn’t need to be bought, nor the hats and western wear; we already had all that. But I talked to the girls about the thrill of the rodeo, the cheers, the dust, the dirt, the clowns, the parades, the show; I told them of my childhood.

I told them the teen-age years when “going to the rodeo” meant we were going to watch the bull-riding, but pretty much wander the grounds and talk to the cowboys and cowgirls, admire the horses, the fancy saddles, ask where they were from and be fascinated that they came to Fort Madison from all over to ride the rodeo.

I tried my best to describe the detail of the pantings on the businesses windows, how each one was different and beautiful and done with such care. I did my best to do justice to the excitement of rodeo week; the pins, the pancake breakfast, the floats... and always the horses. Those beautiful horses decked out in their Sunday best as they pranced through downtown to the cheers of delight of those of us who still became children playing cowboys and Indians when the Rodeo came to town. The then there was ouramazement as TV stars appeared in our town because the Rodeo was there. How wonderful it was to see Doc and Festus, and how hearts fluttered when Little Joe came to town.

I had them geared up for the time of their life. It didn’t happen. Oh sure, there was a “rodeo” I suppose. There were clowns and horses, bulls and cowboys, barrel racing and steers, but to this Fort Madison girl, it wasn’t “Rodeo.”

 This “performance” was inside, the seats were far removed from the action going on below. There was sawdust on the floor, and a machine was driven out at intervals to “clean-up” when the sawdust got dirty. There was no mud, no dirt, no burning sun or pouring rain or freezing cold.  Yes, the seats were comfortable, for a lecture; but they weren’t “rodeo” seats.

The cowboys stayed clean and sweat-free throughout the entire show. The sounds were muffled by perfect acoustics. There was no sound audible from the riders, and even the cheers, when they came, were calmly low-key. I was not impressed.

The kids enjoyed it, the way they would enjoy a play or musical performance. We sat and watched, but we didn’t feel like we were part of the Rodeo. People showed up in obviously new boots that hurt their feet with the ponted toes, and cowboy hats that perched uncomfortably on their heads, perfect in their shape and cleanliness; this was not MY rodeo.

Once again I had taken for granted the things I grew up with. I was under the mistaken idea that everyone had the same experiences as I did, both good and bad, but mostly good; 99 percent good, wonderful, exciting, safe, stable; a life I counted on all the time, a life everyone should be able to have. But, like the rodeo that ended up not being a “Rodeo,” not everyone is that fortunate, not everyone had a Fort Madison to grow up in.

After that rodeo fiasco, I quit expecting things to be as I remembered; I started realizing that just because it is called a rodeo, doesn’t mean it was the RODEO. Soak up the mud, the blood, the music, the rain, the cold, the heat, the horses, the bulls, the barrel racing.

Cheer at the parade, even if it’s smaller than it used to be. Some places have no rodeo parade at all. Wear those scuffed and stained boots with pride, slap on the cowboy hat that has handprint spots and is bent just right to keep out the sun. Wave at the cowboys and cowgirls as they ride through town. There are place where they come by plane, the horses are kept in a trailer and pens, and the kids never see them “out and about.”

I know what a real rodeo is, I know they are few and far between, I know Fort Madison has a RODEO, I know I hope they always will. Hats off to that 8 second ride, Fort Madison!

Kay LeRoy is the daughter of the late Dick Fleckenstein who served 19 years as editor, and seven years as executive editor of Daily Democrat, and Mary Ann Fleckenstein who now resides in Davenport. A native of Fort Madison, LeRoy lives in Georgia