By Lauren Mueller, Reporter
The atmosphere was electric, fans fixated on the arena as competitors clung to bucking broncos and bulls, roped steers and tackled calves to the earth. The 102nd Clovis Rodeo was in full swing.
Sunday afternoon was perfect weather for the finals. The sun shone brightly overhead, the sky a brilliant blue with golden rays, making it feel like summer in the sun but winter in the shade.
Cowboy Jake Brown of Hillsboro, Texas, was the winning bareback rider of the day, having earned an 89-point ride on Growney Brothers’ Wild and Blue. Brown enjoyed the crowd and the weather, as well as his winning ride. “It’s awesome. Of course I’m gonna love it, they just told me I won over $8,000, so that’s a pretty good day I’d say. It’s cool, the weather’s great, the horses bucked, there’s an awesome crowd—you couldn’t ask for a better rodeo.”
Brown wasn’t the only one enjoying the rodeo. This year, thousands of spectators filled the grandstands to bursting.
In the arena, rodeo clown JJ Harrison was leading the crowd in sing-alongs and a “sound wave,” which is exactly what it sounds like: the wave, but with shouts instead of raised hands. The sound wave was not a success, but it was certainly entertaining to hear the attempt.
Events included in the final day included bronc riding, bull riding, team roping, barrel racing, tie-down roping and more. And at the end of the day, motorcycle riders performed extreme stunts, jumping 30 feet in the air off ramps and flipping their bikes backwards in mid-air.
Rodeo fans have been coming to the Clovis Rodeo grounds for years, some of them for as many as 30 years in a row.
Leslie and Mark Aschbrenner have been going to the rodeo for 11 years.
“We come every year, we love it,” Mark Aschbrenner said. “We’ve come every year for the last 11 years since we came here. My favorite part of the Rodeo is barrel racing because of the speed of it.”
“We love the fun and excitement,” Leslie added. “My favorite part is just looking at all the aspects of it. I think all of it’s fun.”
Others, like Johnny Dice, are new to the rodeo scene. Dice has only really been attending the rodeo since he married his wife Rachel, who is currently number 14 in the world in barrel racing.
“Before my wife, I would just go to our hometown rodeo a little bit in Livermore; she’s the one who got me into rodeo,” Dice said.
Whether they were newcomers or old hats at the rodeo, everyone had their favorite event. By the time the rodeo ended, everyone seemed almost reluctant to leave, and the promise of next year lingered.
The following cowboys and cowgirls earned the top scores in the finals at the 102nd Clovis Rodeo:
• Joseph McConnel of Bloomfield, NM, won the bull riding event with an 88.5 ride on Growney Brothers’ National finals bull Crystal Deal.
• Jake Brown of Hillsboro, TX, won the bareback riding event with an 89-point ride on Growney Brothers’ Wild and Blue.
• Rusty Wright took the winning saddle bronc ride on Burch Borthers’ Lunatic from Hell.
• Spencer Mitchell of Williams, CA and Justin Davis of Cottonwood, CA, took home the win for team roping.
• Jacob Talley of Keatchie, LA, took home the win in the steer wrestling event.
• Rachel Dice of Livermore, CA and Kris Gadbois of Escondido, CA, both took home prizes for barrel racing.
For more photos, click here.