Take a $10,000 prize and add in team titles and fan interaction, along with top cowboys and top stock from Smith Pro Rodeo, and Cheyenne Frontier Days had the recipe for a sure-fire success with the new Cinch Shootout at the “Daddy of ‘em All.”
Eight of the best rodeos in the country were represented by a bareback rider, barrel racer, saddle bronc rider, steer wrestler and bull rider.
Competition was definitely tough.
In the first round, each of those contestants put out their best effort to be among the top four in their respective discipline and advance to the final round.
The finals featured a winner take all purse of $10,000.
Additionally, the rodeo’s teams accumulated points towards a championship and $6,000 to be split among the competitors.
Along with the team from Cheyenne Frontier Days, other rodeos that were represented included the Reno Rodeo; San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo; Rodeo Austin; National Western Stock Show Rodeo (Denver); Rodeo Houston; Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo; and the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede.
There was a tie for the team title between the National Western Stock Show Rodeo and Rodeo Austin. Each of the competitors got $600 for being part of the team.
In all, $70,000 was paid to Friday afternoon’s participants. A new development for this event allowed fans to text matchups and positions for the final four competitors.
In the bareback riding, the winning matchup was between Smith Pro Rodeo’s Storm Cloud and Richmond Champion representing the National Western Stock Show Rodeo. Champion, from The Woodlands, Texas, scored 93-points to earn his $10,000 bonus.
Asked how he liked the Shootout format, Champion replied, “Awesome — can’t beat it. Eight guys who are the best in the business against top horses. Cut them in half and bring the best back for a shootout. It’s not an everyday event.”
“The crowd gets into it.” Champion continued, “The crowd gets to choose what horse we get on. It involves them and gets them into it. They have their favorites obviously and they have their horses picked. It builds excitement for us because we’re here to entertain. We’re here to make a living but it makes it that much easier when you’ve got a crowd behind you.”
Winning the bull riding was four-time and reigning Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) world champion J.W. Harris representing the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Harris, from Mullin, Texas, finished second in the first round to advance behind Sage Kimzey from Strong City, Okla., who rode for the National Western Stock Show. Kimzey is currently in the lead in the PRCA world standings and Harris is in second.
In the final round, Kimzey bucked off and Harris rode for 90 points. The bull that took him to the championship was Smith Pro Rodeo’s Sipping Pendleton.
“I really like the Cinch Shootouts,” Harris said. “I thought it was neat how they let the fans pick the animals. At the other ones, in the final round the guys get to go out there and pick the animals that they want to ride, but here they changed it up a little bit and let the fans pick the animal and I like that better because it gets the fans involved in what is going on. They get to kind of control our destiny. They get involved in what’s going on and aren’t just sitting there watching. They can say ‘I picked the winning ride’ and I thought it was pretty cool.”
The Cinch Shootouts are not new and have been done at other rodeos.
Cheyenne Frontier Days General Chairman Darin Westby, explains why CFD brought the Cinch Shootout to Frontier Days.
“We have done focus groups and market research and our fans and our consumer base all said that they wanted us to mix things up and try something new. They wanted an add-on product. We toured the rest of the country and a lot of the other rodeos and they started that shootout format. We decided that we would jump on board and give that a shot as well.”
Westby was very pleased with the first try with the Cinch Shootout.
“This year we had about 4,000 people in the stands. I think everybody that came out liked it. It was a great performance. I think they all loved it. I think they like the format and the short rodeo. Entertainment was high. Engagement was high with our ‘text to win’ format. We’re very excited about how all that turned out. We will absolutely do it again. We will give it another shot and see if it gets bigger and better.”
Westby is looking forward to a big year for Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“Right now rodeo is up about 6 percent over last year. Our ticket sales are looking very good for our professional PRCA performances. Our night shows are looking great. We’ve got a strong lineup. Everything is just clicking along like clockwork. We get some good weather and it’s going to be awesome.”
Other winners here were Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., in the barrel race representing Rodeo Houston; K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas, for Rodeo Austin in the steer wrestling; and Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., in saddle bronc riding for Rodeo Austin. ❖