RNCFR: Behind the Chutes

 

MEET YOUR 2016 RNCFR ANNOUNCER…

MR. ROGER MOONEY

 

Since he was big enough to walk, Roger Mooney has been raising cattle in his hometown of Ellijay, Georgia. He still lives on the farm where he was raised with seven generations. He has, in his own words, “always been a cowboy”.

You might wonder, How does a cowboy begin a career as a rodeo announcer? In 1984, Roger was a rodeo contestant competing in a college rodeo in Tifton, Georgia. Little did he know, this is where his rodeo announcing career would begin. 

Roger was getting ready to compete when his rodeo coach came behind the chutes to inform the cowboys that the rodeo announcer scheduled to announce that night had a sudden heart attack. With 3,500 fans waiting in the stands, Roger’s rodeo coach said, “Alright, which one of you is the biggest ham?” Unanimously, Roger was elected. Needless to say, this was his true calling! He loves entertaining folks he calls friends.

By “luck of the draw”, Roger took to the microphone and never looked back. After the rodeo was over, Roger was quickly approached to book other rodeos. He said, ”Let me check my book.” Being the ham that he is, of course he didn’t have a book, but he needed one because his schedule was filling up fast. 

“People say timing is everything. Well, for me, timing WAS everything,” he says. Roger knew then that he should be announcing rather than roping or wrestling cattle and steers. He said it didn’t hurt that this gig was guaranteed money every time. For a college student, making a few hundred bucks that quick was a true blessing.

Today, Roger has announced as many as 63 rodeos in one season. In 31 years, he has announced approximately 4,000 rodeos and counting. Traveling 45-49 weeks a year, Roger stays very busy on the road. He said travel is the best and the worst part about his career.  It helps that he has such a supportive family. His beautiful wife, Ashley Mooney, and his two kiddos just adore him. We’ve seen this firsthand! His wife Ashley travels with him from time to time and assists from the audio booths.

We were fortunate enough to spend a little time with Roger. We asked him if he was nervous during that first rodeo. He responded that he had no fear going into is since he was just thrown into the arena. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I took one foot out of the stirrups and let the feathers fly.” He told us it doesn’t matter if there are 300 fans in the stands or 35,000, those are all his friends. “When people put their lives and wives on the line, there is a big responsibility to deliver. I carry that with me and get the job done.”

Rodeo bloopers always give us a great laugh. Roger’s had many blooper moments. Choosing only one to share with us was difficult for him. “I was in Del Rio, Texas announcing. I wanted to learn how to say, ‘I want to be the big cat daddy’ in Spanish.” So he asked a friend, Jaime Garza, how to say it properly in Spanish. He practiced the line until he got it right, then repeated it to the crowd. Well, after the rodeo, during an autograph session, fans couldn’t help but laugh at Roger. One man finally came up to Roger and said, “Man, you are funny.” He was beaming. Roger later found out that Jaime actually taught him to say, “I have a big cat in my pants.” His buddy pulled one over on him!

Roger shared with us that his dear friend Bob Tallman is his role model. He told us he has learned a lot from Bob over the years. According to Roger, “Bob Tallman didn’t teach us to walk on water, but he sure showed us where the rocks were!” At the RAM National Circuit Finals, we are truly fortunate to have both of these amazing men announce our rodeo.

Roger announced our very first RNCFR hosted here in Kissimmee last year, and he will be making his debut for the second time this April. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Roger and Bob back to the Silver Spurs Arena. Roger has traveled to Kissimmee a few times. “The people are the best part about Kissimmee. The people and the facility are top notch. I am looking forward to a return to Kissimmee.”

Roger has no plans of slowing down or retiring anytime soon. “I will work until the day they plant me,” he says. He calls his career a true labor of love.

From under the hat quote: “Your strongest timber never grows in the shade.” – Roger Mooney’s grandfather

 

WHAT ‘LUCK OF THE DRAW’ MEANS

TO RODEO COWBOYS

If you are in Las Vegas and playing to win big in a casino, you might just hear the phrase, “luck of the draw”. Now this could mean many things. One could be a winner with the luck of the draw, one might be a loser, or you just might break even. So who’s feeling lucky?

The phrase isn’t limited to high rollers playing card games in Vegas. It just so happens to mean a great deal to contestants in the extreme sport of rodeo. In rodeo events such as bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and team roping, the contestants have to “draw” for their livestock that they then compete within their rodeo events. And, yes it’s done – straight up – the ol’ fashioned way.

Once contestants are qualified to enter a rodeo, their names are placed into a computer program that the rodeo secretary works from. The contestants’ names are placed on a list numerically at random. The only thing not random is that all rough stock contestants’ names are placed first, and then the timed event contestants after. Rough stock events are bull riding, bareback riding, and saddle bronc riding. Timed events are steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and team roping. So let’s say there are 192 contestants entered (as there are for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo), then those contestants’ names are randomly numbered 1-192.

Just as the contestants who are entered in the rodeo receive a number, the livestock or animals that are entered receive a number as well. For the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, the livestock numbers are placed on poker chips and placed in a hat, box, or whatever works best! Like we said, the ol’ fashioned way. Contestants will go in the order in which they were selected by the computer to draw their poker chip that states a number of the animal with which they will compete. The rough stock contestants typically draw for their livestock about one to two days in advance of the actual rodeo performance taking place. For the timed events, they draw an hour and a half prior to the actual performance.

When the drawing happens for a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo, a PRCA judge and the contracted rodeo secretary will be there to make sure all goes well. Typically, most rough stock contestants choose not to be present when the drawing happens. However, for the timed events, most of the contestants choose to be present.

For all contestants, no matter what, you MUST compete with the livestock you drew or you don’t compete at all. There is no way to dispute this. You get what you get! Hence, it might all come down to the “luck of the draw”.

In many cases, rough stock contestants will sign up for more than one rodeo in a weekend, and then they’ll decide based on personal preference (rodeo location, livestock drawn, and prize money) which rodeo they’ll actually compete in.

Now, not all rodeos do this exactly the same way. Depending on the rodeo, the PRCA might conduct a draw three days prior to a rodeo event.  For the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, this all takes place on site at Silver Spurs Arena.

Our RNCFR rodeo contestants have all the skill they need as they are already champions from the circuits in their rodeo events. We just hope they come packing a little luck during their travels as well. You just never know what hand you’ll be dealt or where the chips will fall, but you can only hope for the best! We wish all the qualified 2016 RNCFR contestants the best of luck in April

9 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM HOSTING THE RNCFR IN KISSIMMEE

 

In 2015, the first year that the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo event was hosted in Kissimmee, Florida, we were so thrilled! We have 70+ years of rodeo history right here in our area, and bringing this national championship rodeo to town got everyone very eager to do something big! We definitely had a great first year playing hosts; however, we decided to cut back on some aspects of our event and keep it simpler – but fun! – for those who attend. 

The Tailgate Experience

For 2016, we’re opting to have the rodeo in conjunction with our one-of-a-kind Tailgate Experience. You’ll find interesting exhibits, vendors for shoppers, our Kids Zone for families to enjoy, the Food Truck Bazaar for dining, and music and live entertainment on the main stage each day.

Free parking for all!

Last year, we charged a parking fee. We decided this year that we want this event to be accessible to more rodeo fans, so we did away with the parking fee. We realize that most venues you attend for any event, concert, or festival typically have a parking fee, and sometimes those fees can be quite shocking! Well, we want you to know our parking is FREE! We hope our fans enjoy this perk.

Growing local partnerships…

It takes a village to make this wonderful rodeo event a success. As we grow each year, it helps to have community partners! On that note, we’d like to give a shout-out to all of our current partners for the 2016 RNCFR: Experience KissimmeeBoot BarnPendleton WhiskySpirit of the SwampOsceola Regional Medical CenterOsceola News-GazetteSatisfaction Orlando ResortRamadaOak PlantationWild FloridaMattamy HomesBouchard InsuranceDeseret RanchSkanskaLattner Equine PerformancePFMUniveristy of Central FloridaBell Roper Law, and S Belle Brand. We cannot thank you enough for your support!

Starting off with a bang!

Who doesn’t love a great rodeo opening ceremony? Especially when fireworks are involved! At the RNCFR, we thoroughly enjoy getting the fans in the stands pumped up during the opening ceremony each night just before we rodeo. However, after year one, we did realize that maybe our pyro was packing a little too much of a punch! You see, though this was a great way to capture the audience’s attention, we took to heart some of the feedback we received about toning down the blasts just a bit. We promise this year you won’t need your ear plugs!

Rodeo date change

Last year we kicked off our inaugural performance of the RNCFR during the last weekend of March. We learned that March was just not the best time for us because we were competing with many other events. Also, our dates fell in the middle of many families’ spring break plans. So we pushed our rodeo back a few weeks. This year, our first rodeo performance kicks off on Thursday, April 7th and the last performance takes place on Sunday, April 10th. We hope that this will enable fans to attend at least one of the five RNCFR performances, if not all of them.

Meet your favorite contestant or state queen!

For our rodeo regulars and new rodeo fans alike, we want to give everyone the opportunity to meet and greet their favorite cowboys and cowgirls! After all, they have to be champions to get here, so they’re kind of a big deal! We’re hosting a constant and queen meet and greet just outside the arena’s South Lobby. After each performance, you can meet the top two contestants from each event, as well as the visiting state queens to take photos, get autographs, or simply say hello! (We’ll provide the autograph sheets and Sharpies!)

 

A place to kick off your boots and hang your hat…  

Here in Kissimmee, we are all about southern hospitality! We welcome those of you traveling from far and wide to see the RNCFR. We hope that you will ride into town, have a comfortable stay, and enjoy Central Florida. This year, we have three wonderful host hotels we recommend: Satisfaction Orlando ResortRamada Kissimmee Downtown, and Oak Plantation Resort. If you visit our website, you can find promotional codes to receive great discounts! 

RV Reservations

New this year: We’re taking RV reservations so you can stay on site! RV sites are available to the general public for $50.00 per night. Contestants may make reservations as well for a flat fee of $125 for their trip. If you book an RV reservation, you may arrive on Wednesday, April 6th. All RVs must be off site by the start of the day on Monday, April 12th.  We have both 30 amp and 50 amp services available. Be sure to book your spot today, because they are first come, first served.

Cowboy Church on Champions Day

Last year, some fans suggested that we host Cowboy Church. Well, per our fans’ requests, we will be hosting Cowboy Church on Sunday, April 10th just before we kick off our Champions Day performance. This is open to all who wish to attend! Some of our contestants will be present to usher.

Though this isn’t our first rodeo, last year was our first go-around at hosting the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo here in Kissimmee. We have tried our best to listen to the feedback we received from contestants, rodeo fans, and our friends on other rodeo committees. We just know that this year is going to be a bit hit! We look forward to seeing everyone in April!

JUST CALL HIM THE PICKUP MAN, THAT’S WHAT I DO

 

Rodeo fans, meet Jason Bottoms! Nominated as the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Pickup Man of the Year, Jason also happens to be your 2016 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo pickup man!

In the sport of rodeo, a pickup man carries a huge responsibility. Some of their duties include:

  • Ensuring that the cowboys dismount safely from the livestock
  • Maintaining the safety and well-being of the livestock in the arena
  • Loosening or removing the flank strap from the animals so that when the animal enters the stripping chute (where the animals go after a ride), they don’t get hurt in any way
  • Keeping the arena clear of livestock

Aside from making sure the cowboys get back on their feet safely, the pickup men also keep an eye on the livestock and their safety. Stock contractors pay close attention to this since the animals that participate are like family to them.

Jason Bottoms grew up in Corsicana, Texas on his family’s ranch running feeder cattle, auction barns, and helping his dad who owned an amateur rodeo company. Jason’s dad was a pickup man most of his life, so Jason grew up around the sport of rodeo. While Jason’s dad was serving as a pickup man for the Dirt Days Amateur Rodeo in Texas, he tore a muscle in his arm and couldn’t continue working during that rodeo. Dad told Jason, “You’re up son!” And the rest is history.

Jason has been a member of the PRCA since around 1992. Over the last 20 years, Jason has picked up for thousands of rodeos, traveling as many as 200 days out of the year across the U.S. to places like Mississippi, Louisiana, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Florida. He has worked over 180 rodeo performances in one year alone.

It is never just guaranteed that you will get selected to be a pickup man for PRCA rodeos. You have to be the best to work the best rodeos. Jason shared with us that he felt truly honored to be selected to pickup for this year’s 2016 RAM National Circuit Finals. He has been a pickup man for the WNFR three times, and twice for the RNCFR. Not only is he excited to return to the RNCFR, he also has the opportunity to pick up alongside his best friend, Shawn Calhoun. Jason said, “It makes it much easier that way, because we already know what the other might be thinking.”

To be a pickup man, you must have great horsemanship skills. In one rodeo, a pickup man can ride up to six different horses! They rotate the horses out during the performance so the horses can get breaks to rest. Depending on the size of a rodeo, they might ride two horses during the bareback competition, two horses during saddle bronc, and one or two for bull riding. In terms of horsemanship, Jason said, being a pickup man requires good balance, good judgement, and quick reactions.

You can certainly tell that Jason has the heart and passion for what he does. He said, “Most of these experiences money cannot buy in this business. It’s not always about the paycheck. You make so many relationships and friendships that stick with you for life.”

A career as a pickup man certainly doesn’t come without bumps, bruises, or broken bones; these men risk a lot to save the contestants and the livestock. It can take a toll on the body. We asked Jason if he had plans on retiring anytime soon, and he said he does plan to retire in the next few years to spend more time with his family. He said, “For all you gain, you give up a lot, too. In the end when you look back, you can say it was all worth it.”

Jason, we look forward to seeing you in action here in Kissimmee! Rodeo fans come check out our pickup man!

From under the hat: “If you ever quit trying to learn, you won’t get any better.” “Always keep learning.” – Jason Bottoms

DANCE, EAT, LAUGH, PLAY, EXPERIENCE, AND BEST OF ALL RODEO!

 

We are excited to officially announce our 2016 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo theme nights and events that coincide with our one-of-a-kind championship rodeo here in Kissimmee! 

Latin Night

Nos Gusta Noche Latina!

Latin Night is back and will be kicking off the first performance of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo on April 7th! We invite everyone to join us for this championship rodeo as well as our Tailgate Experience. During Latin Night, you can expect to party with John & Jenny from RUMBA 100.3, win free prizes, dance to the sounds of the Pleneros, play with the kids in our Kids Zone, and also experience the Food Truck Bazaar. We hope that you and your families will come join us for some musica, para bailar y hacer recuerdos!

Wrangler National Patriot Night

The second performance of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo is Wrangler National Patriot Night… The bravest night in rodeo! We are the land of the free, because of the brave, and we’re calling all active and retired service men and women to join us as honored guests for this event. The dirt at the Silver Spurs Arena will be covered in the red, white, and blue on Friday, April 8th as we celebrate our freedom by offering free admission to our active and retired military personnel (with proper ID). During this performance, we’ll be swearing in a brand new group of United States Marine Corps recruits to become active for service.

Prior to the rodeo, pre-game with us at our Tailgate Experience. We will have a DJ playing, great All-American dining options at the Food Truck Bazaar, exhibits, and a Kids Zone with fun rodeo activities like dummy roping, miniature barrel races, and more.

 

Family Day

Bring one or bring ‘em all! This day is all about family. Kids and teens, ages 18 and under, are free! Looking for a fun, safe Saturday outing for the family? Family Day kicks off our third RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo performance on in the afternoon on April 9th. Z88.3 will be live playing positive tunes, there will be bounce houses, obstacles, a mechanical bull, rodeo activities, exotic birds to hold or pet, and more at our family-friendly Tailgate Experience. All kids activities are free. We will feature student and teacher performances on the main stage from folks who live right here in Osceola County!

Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night

The evening of April 9th, it’s all about the pink… Are you tough enough to wear it? Show up and show off your pink at our fourth RNCFR rodeo performance at night on April 9th. At this performance, we tip our hats to honor those women and men who have fought, survived, or are currently fighting breast cancer. Portions of the ticket proceeds will benefit the fight against breast cancer. We will be presenting a check on the dirt to the cause and honoring survivors with Montana Silversmiths buckles. Before the event, K92.3 Orlando will kick off an afternoon of rodeo fun at our Tailgate Experience. After the last bull bucks, you can catch a performance on the main stage by Shotgun Whiskey. This band just might leave you howling for more!

Champions Day

Big bucks for bigger BUCK$! It takes a lot of guts and grit to get to all the glory… Who will be your 2016 RAM National Circuit Finals Champions? Come witness the fifth and final performance of the RNCFR on Champions Day on Sunday, April 10th. This will be your last chance to witness the top rodeo contestants in the U.S. as they go head-to-head for $1 million in cash and prizes. Before you take your seat for the final showdown, be sure to catch the Neon Truckers live from the main stage. Afterwards, the Tailgate Experience will still be going strong where you can eat like a champion at the Food Truck Bazaar, play in the Kids Zone, and shop the official merchandise of the RNCFR and other vendors.

The RNCFR welcomes rodeo newbies and seasoned rodeo regulars. We invite everyone to celebrate year two of the RNCFR hosted at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida, and be a part of our rodeo history because rodeo history happens here!

Parking is free at all performances! The Silver Spurs Arena is conveniently located about 15 minutes from the airport and directly off of the Florida Turnpike at 1875 Silver Spur Lane, Kissimmee, Florida 34741. To see maps of the venue, please visit: www.ohpark.com

For more information on any of these rodeo events, including ticket pricing and hours, please visit: www.rncfr.com or Click here for hotel information.

We hope to see you in April!