82nd Caldwell Night Rodeo Wrap-Up
by Terry Lidral
Every year, it seems that the Caldwell Night Rodeo, already rated as one of THE very best outdoor Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) events in the world, can’t get any better. Yet the 82nd season, as far as this rodeo fan is concerned, raised the bar on rodeo entertainment to a whole new level.
Every night, the full to overflowing crowds were treated to exciting competition by the Who’s Who of the PRCA and the Women’s Pro Rodeo Association, and to the highly entertaining antics and jokes of the very talented NFR clown and barrel man Johnny Harrison, who thrilled the crowd with his comedic trick riding and his courageous stint as “man in the can” for the freestyle bullfighting event.
With the legendary rodeo announcer team of Randy Corley and Hadley Barrett, the sound and music of PRCA Soundman of the Year Benje Bendele and the best stock in the rodeo business provided by Powder River Rodeo and D&H Cattle Company, the CNR once again gave their fans what they always have, the greatest in rodeo entertainment anywhere.
On Tuesday night, fans saw a one-time only performance by the Bullfighters Only Tour that matches the best freestyle bullfighters in the world against fighting bulls bred specifically for their speed and athleticism. Armed with only their agility, athletic skills and bull savvy, the bullfighters displayed their talents, and the bulls displayed why they have a reputation for being mean. CNR bullfighter Cody Webster won the event, showing the crowd what a truly talented bullfighter he is.
There were heartfelt moments like when Trevor Knowles won the CNR Steer Wrestling Championship for the 2nd year in a row, wearing his father’s 1979 CNR All Around buckle in honor of the former CNR champion who is battling a serious illness. And like the introduction of those from the CNR family who are invested in the Power of Pink Night for personal reasons, including CNR Sales and Marketing Manager, Pamela Hayn, who is a breast cancer survivor. And there’s Tyson Durfey, 2016 CNR Tie Down Roping Champ, competing in the pink shirt he wears to promote breast cancer awareness whenever he gets the chance. There was the introduction of Lee Akin, who set the still standing CNR arena bull riding record at 94 in 2002, who has moved to Middleton, Idaho and is continuing his remarkable recovery from a devastating brain injury sustained in a bull riding accident in 2007. And of course there were the introductions in the arena of past and present fan favorites of the CNR, and in the crowd, folks were renewing old acquaintances and making new ones just like it happens every year.
Fans saw heartbreak in every event. Knocked barrels, broken barriers, missed hind feet, helicopter spins-it was all there. And there were those moments of joy when the barrel rocked back up and didn’t fall down, the hand popped out of the rope AT the 8 second buzzer, the calf stayed tied despite the quick wrap… As it is in every rodeo for the cowboys and cowgirls – “You win some, you lose some.”
Being so close to the end of the PRCA season, there were many competitors who were fighting their way up the standings to the National Finals Rodeo, and some were fighting to stay in. That made for some great effort and some nail biting moments all week long, and especially on Championship Saturday Night.
2016 CNR Steer Wrestling Champion Trevor Knowles, who went midway through the championship round, had to wait it out until the bitter end to see if he was going to win the extremely close contest, as did Tyson Durfey who beat the stiff competition to win the 2016 CNR Championship in tie down roping.
Saddle bronc rider Joe Lufkin’s big score of 87.5 on Burch Rodeo’s Lunatic Fringe from Tuesday night didn’t hold for the title as Lufkin was bucked off After Party in the championship round, giving the 2016 Saddle Bronc Riding Championship to Zeke Thurston who did make the 8 second buzzer on Show Me Again.
King Hill, Idaho’s Darby Fox held the lead in the women’s barrel racing to the bitter end until Sherry Cervi beat her out by a fraction of a second to take the 2016 CNR Barrel Racing Championship.
Richmond Champion won the 2016 CNR Bareback Riding Championship with his 8 second ride on Pinball Girl, adding to his score from earlier in the week for a combined high total.
It was a tough week for team ropers with Championship Saturday Night being no different. Header Colby Lovell and heeler Travis Graves were able to put it together for a penalty-free score to win the 2016 CNR Team Roping Header and Heeler awards.
Bull riding is a week-long event, with cowboys competing for a top score over the full 5 nights. Qualified bull rides were hard to come by. The first ride of the week came on Wednesday night when Lonnie West rode Landshark for a score of 78.5. There were 2 more rides over the course of the competition. Jeff Askey rode Savage Moves for 85.5 to win the bull riding event and New Plymouth, Idaho’s Roscoe Jarboe, who is in the top 10 in the current PRCA standings, made an 8 second ride for a score of 81.5 to finish second.
The 82nd year of the Caldwell Night Rodeo may well go down on record as one of the best ever. (The Civies even gave the Rowdies a run for their money – and their Coors.) But, then again, that’s what was said about last year. With packed crowds for all 5 nights, there’s a buzz about expanding the seating capability to handle even more great rodeo fans. How about it all you fans out there, are you ready for the 83rd CNR?
Note: These are purely the reflections of this rodeo fan. If you attended the CNR, yours will most definitely be different. If you didn’t attend this year’s CNR, after reading this, you’ll probably wish you did.