You couldn’t tell it by Tuesday’s weather, but Monday was a beautiful afternoon for rodeo, on the third and final day of PRCA competition at the Uinta County Fairgrounds, part of the Evanston Cowboy Days Labor Day celebration.
“Anyone who is familiar with rodeo knows that we had top talent there at every single rodeo [last weekend],” said Cowboy Days president Dustin Matthews. “It’s really similar to what you would see at the National Finals in Las Vegas. You don’t get very many opportunities to go to a rodeo and see the kind of talent that we had at ours this year. That was a big, big thing for Evanston.”
The rodeo was also broadcast live nationally on the Cowboy Channel this year, a first for Evanston Cowboy Days.
“The television broadcast went smooth — we really got to showcase Evanston a lot this weekend,” Matthews added. “Everyone we heard from said it was a great rodeo — we had very few complaints or problems all weekend.”
Longtime Cowboy Days and rodeo photographer Jim Fain said this year — his 55th covering the event and the rodeo — would be his last. He was recognized for his efforts during Monday’s PRCA bull riding event.
“Our photographer — who’s been covering this event for a long while — told me it was the best rodeo in 25-30 years here in Evanston,” Matthews said. “He’s seen the ups and downs of Cowboy Days over the years, so I respected his opinion a lot when he told me that. Those who have been around for a long, long time with our rodeo were very happy with the way it went.”
Clayton Sellars — a bull rider out of Stephensville, Texas — tied with fellow Texan Boudreaux Campbell for the top spot in bull riding with 86 points each. Sellars’ winning ride was on a bull called ‘Handyman,’ during Sunday’s performance number two, while Campbell scored his winning ride on ‘Hail Storm,’ during Monday’s performance number three.
Also finishing in the money were Kansas cowboy Jeston Mead (3rd place with an 85) and Montana’s Parker Breding (4th place with an 84). Ky Hamilton rounded out the top five, with a score of 83. Thermopolis’ own Hawk Whitt placed sixth, with a score of 82.5; there was a three-way tie for seventh, with Dustin Martinez, TJ Gray and Josh Frost scoring 81.5.
In bareback riding, Canadian Pascal Isabelle took the top spot with 83 points, riding a horse called ‘Old Flame.’ Clements, California, native Clayton Biglow was second with an 82.5, while Mason Clements out of Draper, Utah, rounded out the top three with an 80.
Also finishing in the money in the bareback event were Cole Reiner (fourth with a 79), Clay Stone and Logan Patterson (tied for fifth with a 78) and Shane O’Connell and Leighton Berry (tied for seventh with 77).
South Dakota native Shorty Garrett won the saddle bronc competition, riding a horse aptly called ‘Wild Ride’ to a score of 87 points. Wyoming’s own Tanner Butner was second with an 86, with Ryder Wright and Sheridan’s Chet Johnson tied for third with an 85.5. Wyoming’s Brody Cress finished in a three-way tie for eighth place, with a score of 83.5.
In the bulldogging event, West Point, Mississippi, native Will Lummus took the top spot with a blistering time of 3.7 seconds. Jule Hazen of Kansas was second, with a time of four seconds, while Canadian Tanner Milan and Texan Justin Shaffer tied for third with a time of 4.1 seconds.
In tie-down roping, Ryan Jarrett, out of Comanche, Oklahoma, won the event with a time of 7.5 seconds. Oklahoman Hunter Herrin and Texan Marty Yates finished in a tie for second, with a time of 8.1 seconds, while Zack Jongbloed placed fourth, with a time of 8.5 seconds.
On the women’s side, Dona Kay Rule set the standard in barrel racing, with a time of 17.16 seconds. Texas native Tiany Schuster and Kassie Mowry of Oklahoma finished in a tie for second, posting a time of 17.35 seconds. In fourth place was Cladwell, Idaho’s Jessie Telford with a time of 17.39, while Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi of Texas rounded out the top five with a time of 17.54. Gillette’s Maggie Poloncic finished in the money, placing seventh with a time of 17.59.
In team roping, the duo of Chaz Kananen and Max Kuttler finished in the top spot with a time of 4.5 seconds. The team of Jeff Flenniken and Tyler Worley finished in a tie for second with the team of Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II, posting a time of 4.7 seconds. Fourth place went to the team of Aaron Tsinigine and Kyle Lockett, with a time of 4.9 seconds; Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord rounded out the top five with a time of 5 seconds.
Cowboy Days a success
Facing the daunting task of hosting an event that attracts folks from all over the state and around the region, Matthews said things went better than he could have hoped, especially with COVID concerns at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“Everything looked really good — the rodeo was good, ticket sales were good,” Matthews said. “We were under some COVID restrictions, and our lines were kind of slow the first night. But we figured things out, and had it running really well.”
Day one of Cowboy Days brought in 1,860 people; about 1,200 attended each of the final two days.
“One of the obstacles we faced was limited attendance,” Matthews said. “I know the crowd looked big, but it could have been bigger. We caught some flak from people who say we oversold, but we didn’t. We were right with the guidelines set by the state for our event under our variance.”
Also in place was strict adherence to COVID restrictions mandated by the state.
“We took the temperature of every single person that went on to the fairgrounds this weekend,” Matthews said. “We had hand sanitizer everywhere — every person was offered a mask if they wanted it. We really had a lot of work on our hands on the COVID side of things.”
That said, Evanston Cowboy Days was once again a success. Matthews thanked the community and local businesses for their continued support.
“I don’t have the final numbers yet, but it looks like we made a little money,” Matthews said. “We’ve really worked hard in the four or five years that I’ve been involved to get this thing turned around. I really feel like we turned that corner this year. We started with $32 this year, and it’s a $105,000 event to put on. To start with $32 and get that accomplished, that’s a huge compliment to the community and all the businesses that believed in it and supported us enough to make it happen.”