GERRY – The valiant volunteer firefighters of Gerry, New York, are bringing the best-of-the-best in cowboy and cowgirl ridin’ and wranglin’ back to the famous Gerry Firemen’s Rodeo this year for the 68th time. Rodeo fans are coming from across the country between Wednesday, August 1 and Saturday, August 4, 2012. The gates swing open at 8:00 every night and the show goes on rain or shine!
As always, it is a PRCA/WPRA sanctioned event insuring the highest possible standards in rider and livestock safety and audience enjoyment. “We’re bringing in 150 head of stock for this rodeo,” explained Paul Cooley, rodeo media coordinator for the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. “This will be a really big show.”
“We’ve upped the prize money this year too,” Cooley explained to a rodeo fan recently. “All together, it may top $35,000. And we have nearly 170 contestants this year, more than ever, way up from last year’s 142.” Rodeo organizers also scoured the nation this year to bring in more than ever of the ever popular and always colorful bucking bronco riders, 23 of the best, each pitted against two, rather than the usual one, head of stock in each event. “We’ve increased this part of the rodeo by popular demand,” Cooley said.
This year’s Rodeo Clown, Mike “Scooter” Smith, billed as the “Clown Extraordinaire,” has won awards and accolades across the country for his shows and for his bravery. In addition to entertaining the crowds, and keeping a sort of order in the ring with his trained llama and riotous dog show, Mike will be the “man-in-the-barrel” during the barely controlled mayhem of the bull riding contests. Being a rodeo clown is no laughing matter down in the arena, but his antics are always a high point of every show and a barrel of laughs to watch.
Rodeo chairman and Gerry native, Tom Atwell, and assistant chairman, David Hall, have added a new, family friendly event this year. The (Free!) Kids Rodeo on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 joins the traditional, fun Calf Scrambles for youngest fans every night. The Kids Rodeo will feature stick horse riding, hula hoop roping, stick bull riding, a boots ‘n shoes race and much more. Parents and their cameras are all welcome in the arena for the Kids Rodeo.
In the Kids Rodeo each youngster gets a real cowboy or cowgirl numbered back tag and a real western style kerchief. A silver belt buckle will be awarded to the best dressed young cowboy and cowgirl.
The other time-honored celebrity at the Gerry Rodeo is the food. The traditional beef barbeque dinners will be served to thousands of guests each afternoon. The Gerry Fire Department traditionally begins the 8-hour beef roast at 5:00 a.m. each morning over specially cured, one-year-old maple wood chips. In 2011, the Fire Department served up a total of 5,000 pounds of beef, along with 90 quarts a day of special, secret recipe sauce that always adds a special zest. Approximately 35 volunteers work each day in the kitchens. Cooking and serving are closely supervised by the Chautauqua County Health Department.
Any firefighter with valid ID can enter the rodeo for half price on Thursday night, and children enter free any night with a paid adult whose ticket is purchased on line, according to Cooley. Saturday’s theme is “Tough Enough To Wear Pink” in support of breast cancer awareness.
For more information, Jamestown Gazette readers are invited to log on to http://www.gerryrodeo.org/.