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Opportunities on the rise

We’ve had several exciting announcements in ProRodeo lately with new, multi-year contracts for both the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Osceola County, Fla. And the momentum isn’t letting up as we head into our busy summer season.

We enjoyed a second-straight sellout crowd at the Wrangler Champions Challenge presented by Justin Boots event in Redding, Calif. Redding, of course, hosted our first-ever, inaugural WCC event last year, which we will always appreciate. Talk about setting a high bar. Bennett Gooch and the rest of the Redding committee don’t miss a single detail in putting on a top-notch show that truly showcases our superstar cowboy and animal athletes.

Next stop for the 2014 WCC tour was Spanish Fork, Utah, where Steven Money and company sold out their first Champions Challenge event—and a stand-alone event, no less. We can’t thank these committees and volunteer armies of folks who spend their vacation time helping make these events great for PRCA members and the sport of ProRodeo enough.

In addition to the capacity crowd in Spanish Fork, a cool, rodeo-related community event was celebrated during opening ceremonies. One local teacher requesting rodeo tickets to reward her students for reading sparked the Champions Challenge Reading Program to extend to all 10 area elementary schools, where 6,749 kids read for over 47,000 hours during the month of April. The top six readers from each of the 10 schools were introduced during the rodeo’s opening, and Justin Boots stepped up and had their WCC Team Justin present the 20 contest winners a pair of Justin Boots. Austin Foss, Trevor Knowles, Luke Brown, Kollin VonAhn, Joaquin Real, Tuf Cooper, Mary Walker and Tim Bingham personally congratulated those kids for working so hard on their reading and schoolwork.

As Tom Feller, Director of Event Marketing at Justin Brands, said after seeing that special connection between our cowboys and those kids, “Spanish Fork is the benchmark for success when it comes to putting on a rodeo. They’ve built a wonderful new facility, they bring in good stock, they treat the cowboys right, the rodeo runs smoothly, their community gets behind rodeo 150 percent, and they sold out an 8,400-seat venue at their first Champions Challenge event. This is the blueprint for success.”

People are following the Wrangler Champions Challenge, which is presented by Justin Boots, and we’re pleased to welcome two new team sponsors to the mix. Pendleton Whisky came on board at Redding, and RAM started sponsoring a team at Spanish Fork. Thanks to every sponsor, contestant, stock contractor, contract personnel person and fan for making our vision for the Champions Challenge a reality.

We always appreciate committees who go the extra mile to up the ante in terms of increased purse money, and the Pasadena (Texas) Livestock Show and Rodeo is stepping up in a big way this year. Pasadena, which will be held Sept. 12-13 and 15-18, is a Wrangler Million Dollar Tour Silver Rodeo for the first time in 2014, and has more than doubled its committee purse in two years. In 2012, Pasadena added $30,000—$5,000 per event, and $2,500 per side in the team roping. Last year, they added $47,500 total—$7,500 in each event and $5,000 on each side in the team roping. Pasadena is this year committed to $70,000 in total committee purse—with $10,000 in every event, including equal money in the team roping.

Steve Caramanna is the VP of Rodeo Operations in Pasadena, and his excitement for all the progress they’re making is so inspiring. What Steve noticed when he started working with the committee as a sponsor about 15 years ago was that the cowboys only came if it was easy for them to work their rodeo because it was on the way. Back then, Pasadena wasn’t even a PRCA rodeo. He and his committee set out to make their event a destination rodeo for cowboys, became a PRCA rodeo and took on the challenge of growing the committee purse.

In Steve’s words, “Getting the best cowboys to go out of their way to come to Pasadena means paying them. We have a beautiful, second-to-none facility with a dropdown stage. If we’re going to pull out all the stops to put on a first-class rodeo, and pay to bring in top stock and contract personnel, we want the top cowboys at our show, too. We want the big guns, and we want it to be worth bringing their $100,000 roping and bulldogging horses to our rodeo. These are the guys who are putting on the show for our fans. We’re going to go out of our way to treat them right, and reward them for coming to our rodeo.”

Amen. And for all you PRCA members setting your busy summer schedules right now, I hope you’ll all take advantage of our program with Pilot (, which’ll save you a nickel on every gallon of diesel you pump this summer. That’ll add up in a hurry, and there are no hidden fees. Good luck and safe travels!

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