JOSH HARVILLE/E-TThe community congratulated area cowboys at the NFR Welcome Home Celebration Monday night at the Cowboy Church of Erath County.
By Josh Harville
Some of the biggest names in professional rodeo, along with the community, came together Monday night for the NFR Welcome Home Celebration hosted by the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce and the Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo Association.
The event, held at the Cowboy Church of Erath County, congratulated local cowboys as they returned home from competing in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
“I’m going to use the word family to describe what I’m looking at right now,” Mayor Kenny Weldon said as he gazed across the crowd. “We’re so proud to call you family. Western heritage is in the past and a sport is something you can walk away from, but family is something you can’t take away.”
The 18 professional athletes - who currently live within 30 miles of Stephenville - brought home more than $1 million at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, averaging almost $150,000 per night and two World Championship Gold Buckles.
“Our statistics prove that Stephenville really can boast ‘more professional cowboys and cowgirls per square foot than anywhere else in the world,’” said July Danley, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Danley provided statistics for the audience before introducing the local professionals: 21 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association(PRCA) World Champions; more than 60 PRCA World Titles, including three All-Around Champions; three Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World Champions; more than 60 NFR Qualifiers; six Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees; five National Cowboy Museum Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees; and 14 Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductees.
“Champions aren’t born, they’re made,” Weldon said. “And this is a community that appreciates that.”
After a speech, Weldon presented Jacobs Crawley - saddle bronc champion - with a key to the city of Stephenville. Crawley was born and raised in Stephenville and earned a total of $276,246 for the year and placed in seven rounds, winning average, for a total of $167K at the NFR.
“When you add up the NFR earnings plus all the other championships, that’s well over $2 million earned by Stephenville area athletes in the last few weeks,” Danley said.
More than 20 rodeo athletes, and others heavily involved with the sport, were also recognized for their tremendous efforts and the positivity they bring to the area.
“Stephenville, Texas is home to the greatest cowboys and cowgirls in the world,” Weldon said.