Justin Sheely | The Sheridan Press Trevor Brazile competes in tie-down roping during the Cowboy State Elite Rodeo Athletes premier tour at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds in Sheridan. Sheridan was the only stop in Wyoming for the premier tour of the ERA rodeo, which includes some of the most prestigious rodeo athletes.
September 6, 2016
SHERIDAN — From the old to the young, fans flocked to the Sheridan County Fairgrounds for a chance to meet their favorite gold-buckle athletes Saturday.
The biggest stars in rodeo came to Sheridan for the Cowboy State Elite Rodeo Athletes League of Champions Rodeo.
Prior to the rodeo itself, hundreds of rodeo fans lined up to get autographs, take selfies and shake hands with the athletes.
One of the largest lines formed in front of Trevor Brazile. Brazile, who is a 23-time world champion and a 13-time PRCA All-Around Cowboy World Champion, is one of the board members and the leaders of the ERA Rodeo circuit. He said the concept came about in an attempt to change the way fans see the rodeo athletes.
Traditionally, competitors show up for an event and leave right after their rides are over. Brazile said that with this tour, the ERA competitors are going out of their way to build relationships with the fans in order to promote the sport.
“One of our initiatives with the ERA was to spend time with the fans, to get to know people who are actually buying the tickets,” Brazile said. “And really, it’s for them to get to know us, too.”
Fallon Taylor, a barrel racer from Texas, said that she thoroughly enjoys the meet-and-greet sessions prior to each event. Not only did she see it as an opportunity to inspire her fans, but Taylor said it always gives her a confidence boost heading into her race.
“We like to be up close and personal with the fans,” Taylor said. “It allows people to come up and meet, shake hands and take pictures with us. We don’t get to do this very often.”
Steer wrestler Sean Mulligan said he loves signing autographs and meeting with his fans before the rodeo. He said the meet-and-greet provides a unique experience to rodeo fans that you can’t get elsewhere.
“We want to do it before the rodeo, that way everyone is in a good mood,” Mulligan said, laughing. “We haven’t competed yet, so we are still pretty loose … it’s just fun seeing the excitement in the fan’s faces.”
While many fans were in awe meeting their heroes prior to the performances, just as many were as impressed with the athletes’ performances in the arena.
Fans were treated to some of the most competitive top-to-bottom competition the Sheridan County Fairgrounds had ever seen.
Only 9 points separated the top and bottom of the field in bareback riding with Steven Dent taking the top spot with a ride of 86.5.
Former Sheridan College General, Zeke Thurston jumped out in front of an extremely competitive field in the saddle bronc ride scoring an 88.
They couldn’t pick out a winner in the bull riding event. Wes Silcox, Neil Holmes and Beau Hill split the money after they all scored an 83.5 on their rides.
Even in the timed events, tenths of a second often separated the top from the bottom. In a rodeo anomaly, both Jake Rinehart and Casey Martin had times of 3.88 seconds to tie for first in steer wrestling.
Caleb Smidt beat out his opponents in the tie down by 0.14 seconds to grab first; Kassidy Dennison and her horse completed the barrel race in 17.39 seconds to best a competitive field; and Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill took home the top prize in team roping with a time of 4.78 seconds.
Riders raked in approximately $175,000 in prize money during the one-night performance.
Brazile said that he was thrilled about bringing the rodeo tour to Sheridan and credited the efforts of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo board for making it happen.
“The Sheridan committee embraced it, they wanted to bring more rodeo to their fans,” Brazile said. “That’s the main reason we are here is because this committee worked so hard to get us here.”