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Rodeo goes to the bulls

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Evergreen Rodeo growing in stature

By Brian Forbes

EVERGREEN — The bulls left their marks this past weekend in the annual Evergreen Rodeo.

The Professional Bull Riders event on June 19 began with a successful ride by a young man from Illinois. The poor soul got knocked off around the 9-second mark, only to land face first in a pile of, well, stuff. Green, smelly stuff from his eyebrow to his shirt collar and packed nicely in his right ear.

Sunday’s final event of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event saw Jeston Mead stay on for eight seconds, only to fall down and have his bull step on his neck.

“I didn’t know what to do, and he never jumped out of it,” said Mead, 20, of tiny Ashland, located in southwest Kansas. “I just went out the back door and he just stepped on me.”

With a fat purse of prize money in the seven events, there were plenty of top athletes and livestock on hand for the Father’s Day weekend. The event continued its rise in prestige, as athletes came from Washington, California, Oregon, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Mexico, in addition to all the regional states, to compete.

There were buckets of rain on June 20 and buckets of money for successful ropers and riders, such as Mead, who scored a 74 on his fateful ride to tie for second and pocket $593 for a blurry day’s work.

“You got so much adrenaline rush. It’s unreal how much adrenaline,” Mead said. “You talk to bull riders and they might say they do this and that out there in the arena, (but) for me, once I crawl on that bull, my mind goes blank.”

Mead’s neck now goes red. And blue. And purple. And it was bleeding as he walked out of the arena. The doctors and paramedics looked at him, but the young cowboy just shook it off, opting only for a bag of ice 30 minutes later.

What else can you expect when you’re riding a bull affectionately named Pure Payne? Mead, like most of the contestants, was in Evergreen only briefly. With the busy stretch of rodeos set to begin in early July, a time dubbed “cowboy Christmas,” hitting three rodeos in three days as he did is the norm.

The bulls produced big money for Fruita resident Brady Menge, who scored an 83 atop Snort to place first and pocket $950.

The PBR event on June 19 paid out more than $10,000. Jordan Hupp was the big winner as he scored an 86 and 83.5 to clinch first place and a nice $3,423 payout.

The PRCA bareback riding event featured Conifer rising star Tim Shirley, who put on a good show but scored well outside the money. Wes Kleven of Laramie, Wyo., snagged the top spot with a score of 77. Shirley’s brother-in-law, Hartsel native Micky Downare, scored a 76 on his re-ride atop a horse named Buckin Zone.

“Today I was out of breath. So basically, I tried to catch my breath,” Downare said. “It’s so much fun here. Everything is laid back and we know where the horses are. It’s a good time.”

Jeremiah Peek won the tie-down roping event with a lightning-quick score of 9.8 seconds. Josh Peek took sixth in steer wrestling with a time of 5.2 seconds.

Kyle Hughes drew the first steer on June 21 and promptly moved atop the leader board.

Travis Nevius of Hartsell scored a 74 atop Rose Red to win the saddle bronc riding event. Patty McCullar took the barrel racing event with a time of 17.68 seconds. The team roping event went to Pat Grieve of Baggs, Wash., and Chad Braun of Dixon, Wyo.