Famous Gerry Rodeo Returns


Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is the highest-paying American rodeo organization in the world. One of rodeo’s top stars, Cody DeMoss, has already taken home a career total of more than $2 million and plans to boost his winnings again, along with a record number of 250 other professional cowboys and cowgirls, on Wednesday to Saturday, August 2 to 5, in Gerry, New York.

“Every year, a few more cowboys come to Gerry,” said Paul Cooley, a local resident and life member of the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department, now in his 56th year as an event organizer. “I hear that cowboys who can’t come back on one year or another encourage their friends to get here. The cowboys and cowgirls you see in Gerry are outstanding people. Come and meet them for yourself.” They might be cowboys, but Gerry has never seen a fight or a discouraging word among them.

The country’s hardest riding bareback bronc busters and calf ropers, trick riders and wild bull riders, are coming back to Gerry from 34 states for the 73rd year in a row. They will once again ride and rope for more than $45,000 in prize money. Wins in Gerry count toward qualification to the annual National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas every December. Gerry proudly wears the title “The Rodeo Capital of the East”.

Champion riders of the First Frontier Circuit – rodeo professionals in the states representing America’s original 13 colonies – voted Gerry the “Cowboys’ Favorite” rodeo last year.

Riding for a Cause
Opening night kicks off at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday for the annual, four-day extravaganza. The Gerry Rodeo, established on land that was merely four acres of useless swampland in 1945, is now the longest running rodeo show east of the Mississippi River, and it is all for a good cause. The event was created by the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. “It costs a lot of money to buy fire trucks and modern rescue equipment to protect the residents of our town,” Cooley said.

The excitement of rodeo time fills the air around Gerry every August. Hundreds of volunteers pitch in painting fences, feeding and grooming the animals and serving their famous Gerry Rodeo beef barbeque dinners. The event is alcohol-free and family friendly, according to Cooley. “We want everybody to enjoy supporting our volunteer firefighters. They risk their lives for us responding to more than 300 calls every year, so we want to put on a top-notch show to support them.”

Carnival Fun & Food
The rodeo midway features more than 20 vendor booths offering everything from cotton candy, soft drinks and snacks to Western wear and rodeo memorabilia. The Department’s first piece of fire-fighting equipment, a 1921 Ford Model T, is always on display, too.

This year the old dining hall is bigger, newer and air-conditioned to serve the world-famous Gerry Rodeo beef barbeque dinners. Over a thousand pounds of beef, cooked every day over one-year-old maple wood fires, meets up there with one of the best kept secret recipes for homemade barbeque sauce. Topped off with crisp browned potatoes crafted outdoors in large iron kettles, special gravy, corn, tossed salad, cottage cheese, ice cream and a beverage, the food alone draws thousands of people to the Gerry Rodeo every year. Dinner is served after 5:00 p.m.

Learn More
This year’s rodeo offers nightly performances at 8:00, Wednesday through Saturday in the 4,000 seat arena. Additional information is available by phone at (716) 985-4847 or 1-888-985-4847 or on-line at www.gerryrodeo.org. The website for information about Painted Pony Championship Rodeo is www.paintedponyrodeo.com.

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.