Saddle up, it’s rodeo time
Cattlemen’s 113th edition not short on local talent
Times Staff Writer
Originally published 2013-07-11
Corey Whinnery is ready for another shot at turning the heads of his hometown crowd at this year’s 113th edition of the Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo.
On Saturday night, the Gunnison County resident is slated to make his second consecutive appearance in the team roping category of an event he was practically raised at. With one more year under his belt buckle and his dad, Steve, on the other end of his roping team, all that remains to be seen is what the steer is going to do.
“You’d sure like to do good in front of the home crowd,” Corey told the Times on Tuesday. “You’ve got to draw a good steer though. It’s hard to do good, if you don’t draw good.”
The Whinnery father-son duo is among more than 200 cowboys and cowgirls registered to compete in seven events that span the three-day Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeo, which is set to take place just one block south of Hwy. 50 in Gunnison, July 11-13.
And while this year’s list of competitors is jam-packed with some of the top names in the business — including three of the top five bull riders in the current PRCA rankings — the 2013 edition of Cattlemen’s Days isn’t short on talent with local connections either.
Just two roping teams and one saddle-bronc rider after the Whinnerys make their run, Gunnison’s Tab Hildreth is slated to make his second-ever appearance at Cattlemen’s. After bowing out of last year’s saddle-bronc event without posting a score, Hildreth is also ready to avenge a shortcoming from his 2012 debut.
“That’s the plan,” Tab said of improving on last year’s performance.
And the local list doesn’t stop there.
On Thursday, Gunnison’s own Faith Vickers is slated to make a run for the cash purse in the barrel racing competition. Earlier that evening, former Western State Colorado University wrestler Kyle Francis, from Monte Vista, will take a shot at cracking into the purse offerings in the steer wrestling competition.
A total of 12 competitors enter the weekend in the PRCA rankings. Among those, almost half will be trying to get a piece of the $6,000 that is to be handed out in the bull riding discipline.
“We try to feature bull riding, so we add another $3,000 on top of the $3,000 purse that exists for the six other events,” said Cattlemen’s Days board member Andy Dobie.
Tyler Smith, from Fruita, is the top-ranked bull rider in the business as of most recent standings. Third-ranked Cody Teel (Kountze, Texas) and fifth-ranked J.W. Harris (Mullin, Texas) are also scheduled to make an appearance.
Tie-down roping will also feature a top-ranked cowboy in the PRCA, as Sterling Smith (Stephenville, Texas) is expected to make an appearance. Three saddle-bronc riders in the PRCA’s top 25 have also registered to attend, while one steer wrestler and one barrel racer are ranked among the top in the world for their discipline.
As has been the case in recent years, Smith Pro Rodeos will be providing most of the livestock used at Cattlemen’s. Just last year, owner Stace Smith was awarded his ninth PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year award.
For Steve Whinnery, who has competed in Cattlemen’s numerous times throughout the years, this coming weekend is not as much about coming home with a cash purse as it is sharing a life-long love for rodeo-ing with his son. He taught Corey how to rope at about the age of 11 and had to wait until he turned 18 last summer to compete alongside him.
“I enjoy the sport already and it makes it that much better to be able to do it with my son,” said Steve.
The fun all begins at 7 p.m. each night, Thursday-Saturday, at the Gunnison Rodeo Arena. On Sunday, horse races will take the stage at 12:30 p.m.
For more information, visit the ticket booth on west Hwy. 50, or go to cattlemensdays.com.
(Matt Smith can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org)