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Ag Event Calendar – Canceled or Postponed Events due to Coronavirus

We will update this list as new information becomes available.
Email marketing@thefencepost.com with updates.

Based on recommendations from the US Government and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many events, rodeos and other gatherings have been canceled, rescheduled or modified in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

People who have general questions about coronavirus disease can call The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Information Line at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

Canceled or Postponed Events

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
March 3-22, Houston, TX

Weld County State Shooting Sports Training
March 13 -15, CO

2020 Kansas Junior Sheep Producer Day
March 14, Manhattan, KS
For more information, contact Lois Schreiner at 785-532-1267 or lschrein@ksu.edu.

Weld County 4-H Horse Levels Workshop
March 14, CO

Weld County 4-H Sunday Dog Practice
March 15, CO

2023 Informational CWF Meeting
March 15, CO

Young Farmer and Rancher Conference
March 16, Louisville, KY
For further information, please contact ACBeginningFarmersandRanchers@usda.gov.

Weld County 4-H Winter Shooting Sports Practice
March 16, CO

BCHA Annual Meeting, Dinner & Community Social
March 17, Longmont, CO

University of Wyoming Private Pesticide Applicator Education Classes
March 17, Hulett, WY
March 18, Gillette, WY
March 18, Sheridan, WY
March 19, Kaycee, WY

Trout Unlimited – How to Match the Hatch presented by Rocky Mountain Flycasters
March 18, Fort Collins, CO

Weld County 4-H Dog Practice
March 18, CO

Women Supporting Women Event
March 19, North Platte, NE

Black Mesa CattleWomen’s Ag Expo for Delta County 4th grade students
Friday, March 20, Hotchkiss, CO

Wyoming Bee College Conference
March 20-22, Cheyenne, WY

The Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement (NHAA) Banquet
March 20th, Lincoln, NE

Wellington Auction Household Consignment Auction
March 20, Wellington, CO

Laramie County 4-H Benefit Bash
Cheyenne, WY

4-H Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry
March 21, Eagle, CO

2020 Kansas State University Sheep Producer Day
March 21, Manhattan, KS
For more information, contact Lois Schreiner at 785-532-1267 or lschrein@ksu.edu.

4-H Day at the Weld Food Bank
March 23, Greeley, CO

The Merry Mixer 4-H Club 24th Annual Cowboy Poetry Night
March 28, Gateway, CO

4-H Speech Contest
March 28, CO

Larimer County Parks Advisory Board Public Meeting
March, Loveland, CO
The Board’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at Natural Resources Administration Offices (AO), 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland. For additional information, please contact Ken Brink Jr., Visitor Services Manager, at (970) 619-4555.

Yonts Water Conference
April 8, Gering, NE
“It is our plan to develop an online version of this conference for the same date, April 8. When we do, we will be sending out an updated news release with details about that event.”

ServSafe Training Program
April 16-17, Bridgeport, NE
For foodservice employees who need ServSafe Certification this spring, an online course is available at https://www.servsafe.com/ServSafe-Manager.

More Information

(In alphabetical order)

Colorado State University

On-campus events: All university events involving 20 or more external visitors or targeted toward an at-risk population are suspended effective March 23 through April 10. The University will re-evaluate and issue further guidelines in advance of that date.

Off-campus events: All university-hosted off-campus events involving 20 or more people or targeted toward an at-risk population are suspended effective March 23 through April 10. We will re-evaluate and issue further guidelines in advance of that date.

More information: https://safety.colostate.edu/coronavirus

CRMR (Central Rocky Mountain Region)

Following the national trend of eliminating or reducing team sports, the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR), in which the University of Wyoming competes, is canceling the first three rodeos of the spring season. In response to concerns about the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the CRMR has canceled rodeos at Gillette College, Eastern Wyoming College and Colorado State University. The spring season was scheduled to begin next week. The spring schedule has been set back until April 17-19 for the Casper College rodeo. UW’s annual Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo is still scheduled April 24-26. The College National Finals Rodeo is June 14-20 at the Casper Events Center. Both the UW men’s and women’s teams lead the CRMR standings heading into the abbreviated season.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University has suspended classes and meetings for groups over 100 people to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the health and safety of our participants, volunteers and speakers, the decision has been made to CANCEL Kansas Junior Sheep Producer Day and Kansas State University Sheep Producer Day. We are saddened to have to make this call.

Laramie County Events

With expanding concerns regarding the coronavirus, this past weekend the CDC announced a recommendation that all events of 50 people or more are canceled or postponed. With the safety of our community, guests and event planners in mind, all events scheduled through April at the Laramie County Fairgrounds at Archer have been postponed.

The Laramie County Sportsman’s Expo, originally planned for March 27-29 has been rescheduled for May 15-17, 2020 at the Event Center in Archer. At this time no changes have been made to the 2020 Laramie County Fair. We will continue to monitor updates from the CDC, Wyoming Department of Health, Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department, and other key entities.

Mid-Plains Community College

Mid-Plains Community College is canceling a number of its upcoming events in an attempt to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to protect its students, staff and the communities that it serves.

Staff are still on campus and will continue to answer phone calls and emails. Whenever possible, prospective students and the public are encouraged to call and schedule an appointment prior to arriving on campus as many needs can be addressed virtually.

The canceled events include: 

  • March 18 – Inter-High Day, North Platte/Imperial Campus expansion groundbreaking, Imperial
  • March 20 – Associate of Fine Arts artist reception, Keystone Business Center in McCook 
  • March 25 – Expanding Your Horizons conference, North Platte 
  • March 29 – TeamMates Mentoring event – McCook 
  • April 5 – SKD induction ceremony, North Platte 
  • April 8 – American Red Cross blood drive, North Platte 
  • April 9 – Paint-In, McCook/ Registration Days, McCook and North Platte 
  • April 20 – NPCC Honors Convocation/NPCC Athletic Banquet, North Platte 
  • April 20-25 – Medical Laboratory Professionals Week activities, North Platte 
  • April 21 – NPCC Foundation Scholarship Reception, North Platte
  • April 24 – AFA Exhibition and Thesis Defense Show opening reception, McCook 
  • April 27 – PTK induction ceremony/ MCC Honors Convocation/ MCC Athletic Banquet, all in McCook 

All non-credit, on-campus classes have also been canceled. Decisions about commencement ceremonies and other future events will be announced closer to their scheduled times. Anyone planning to attend an event not on this list is encouraged to contact the hosting campus to determine if the event will continue as planned. More information about MPCC’s response to coronavirus can be found on the college’s website at mpcc.edu.

National 4-H Council

Effective March 22, 2020, all face to face 4-H events, meetings and activities are suspended until May 15, 2020. Please keep in mind, as this develops the March 22nd date could be pushed earlier and the May 15th date could be extended.

  • All face to face 4-H meetings, both club and county, are suspended. This includes those held at the fairgrounds and those that are offsite.
  • All face to face 4-H practices (teams, shooting sports, horse open rides and clinics, dog practices, etc.) are suspended. This includes those held at the fairgrounds and those that are offsite.
  • All face to face 4-H workshops and other 4-H sponsored activities are suspended. This includes those held at the fairgrounds and those that are offsite.
  • The 4-H staff will be communicating with your organizational leader to give options for having virtual 4-H meetings. Weld County 4-H families will receive more specific club and project information from your leaders.

National Little Britches Rodeo Association

Due to the recent high call volume with the concerns over the Corona Virus the National Office has decided to postpone the release of the camping and stalls that was scheduled for this Thursday March 19, 2020. We have decided to schedule it out for one month and the new release date will be April 16, 2020 at 9:00 MST. With all of the company closures and layoff’s currently taking place nationwide our hope is this extension will give everyone a chance to get past the uncertainty and not put additional financial strain on our families during this current situation. We apologize for any inconvenience this will cause to some but think that the decision will benefit most member’s as a whole.

We currently have been experiencing a lot of calls regarding our franchise rodeos. At this time the National Office has decided to leave the scheduling of the rodeo’s up to the franchise’s themselves. As many of you know regulations are different from state to state and in most place’s county to county. It would be impossible to regulate that from our office here in Colorado. At this time, it will be at the discretion of the facilities and franchises to determine if the rodeos will take place. Having said that the NLBRA would encourage everyone to follow the CDC guidelines in your area and follow all state and county regulations.

At this time there has been no change in plans for the National Finals being held in July. We will continue to monitor the situation closely over the coming months and will keep everyone updated as we learn more. We would encourage everyone to enjoy the time spent in the practice pens, take the long overdue horse ride with the kids, and simply enjoy your time with families. This too will pass and we will look forward to seeing all of you at the future rodeos. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at all.


See the full list upcoming PRCA Events and whether they are scheduled or canceled here: http://www.prorodeo.com/news-display/2020/03/13/updated-prca-event-status

University of Nebraska -Lincoln Extension

In response to the COVID-19 situation, Nebraska Extension has advised its employees to cancel face-to-face learning events that have been scheduled for upcoming weeks, or else develop on-line options for the public to participate.

Due to the situation with COVID-19, Nebraska Extension has canceled all in-person training, including chemigation and pesticide applicator training, starting March 16. We understand this is inconvenient, and we appreciate your patience and understanding at this time. Please see below for certification and recertification methods.

Private Training

Online private self-study program — Private applicators can certify or recertify by completing this online training program.


Purchase FlipBooks — Initial training for commercial/ noncommercial applicators will be available solely through our FlipBooks. NDA-administered applicator exams have been put on hold. Please contact NDA at 402-471-2351 for more information on exams.

Recertification sessions — For recertification, please contact our office at 402-472-1632.

University of Wyoming Extension

The University of Wyoming Extension has suspended all in-person events through March 31 due to coronavirus concerns. The suspension also includes all 4-H-related in-person activities. County extension offices will remain open and maintain established office hours, dependent upon circumstances within a county, said Kelly Crane, extension director. “We are an important resource for the communities we serve,” he said. “I hope UW Extension offices can continue to provide this critical support to Wyoming communities.” The guidelines are the extension’s efforts to mitigate risk and promote the health of extension employees, their families, and community members. Crane said the policy may change as conditions shift; for example, a determination about April events will be made when appropriate. Residents with questions can contact their local extension offices.

County extension office contact information is at www.uwyo.edu/uwe/county/index.html.

Wellington Auction Service, CO

​​NO Auction Until ​???? Due to the COVID-19 Restrictions, the next AUCTION has been postponed indefinitely. We hope to open again in a week or two and will let you know the date of the Next Auction as soon as possible. Thank you for your continued interest and support. Please check back here for updates: http://www.wellingtonauctionservice.com/index.html Stay Healthy and Hope to See You Soon!

Rodeo legend Lecile Harris passes away

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A rodeo legend has been lost.

ProRodeo Hall of Famer Lecile Harris, dubbed the “Dean of Rodeo Clowns/Bullfighters,” passed away in his sleep in Jackson, Miss., Feb. 13. Harris, who lived in Collierville, Tenn., was 83.

The last rodeo Harris worked was the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, Miss., Feb. 6-12, working the night before he passed. Rodeo announcer Mike Mathis worked the Dixie National Rodeo with Harris.

“(Lecile) said he was getting lightheaded and thought he might be getting the flu,” Mathis said about what Harris told him after the Feb. 12 rodeo in Jackson. “He said he was going to go to bed. I left Jackson this morning (Feb. 13) and came to Hattiesburg (Miss.). We start it with an event here and then the rodeo Friday and Saturday. Lecile told me that he was not going to get up early, he was going to sleep a little later and he would see me at Hattiesburg this afternoon (of Feb. 13). This morning, the people at the hotel went in and found him unresponsive. I was shocked.”

Harris worked the Dixie National Rodeo 35 times.

The first time Mathis and Harris worked a rodeo together was 37 years ago.

“We’ve done lots and lots of rodeos together, and there was only one Lecile,” Mathis said. “He has timing like no one else and he loved comedy. Lecile fought bulls forever before he began to just do comedy. He was unique. He was a really good athlete. He was a musician. He was an entertainer. He had a varied career, but he loved rodeo and was a legend.”

Scotty Lovelace, the general manager for Harper & Morgan Rodeo, became emotional when talking about Harris. Lovelace was the stock contractor for the Dixie National Rodeo.

“Lecile was a dear friend of mine, and I’m heartbroken,” Lovelace said. “God put Lecile Harris on this Earth to make people laugh. He just had a wit about him, and he had timing. He always believed in timing. … They loved Lecile all over the United States, but especially in the Southeast.”

Harris got his start in rodeo as a bull rider and then a fill-in bullfighter while still in high school. He evolved into one of the sport’s most respected funnymen over a career that spanned more than half a century. He was PRCA Clown of the Year in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

At his peak, Harris performed at more than 100 rodeos each year, his timing, inventiveness and classic style the envy of his contemporaries. He became well known for his signature end to a performance — The Original Bulldancer — in which he would dance with a bull from the bucking stock.

His specialty acts included a baseball act, piano act, magic act, robot, taxi, shootout, fiddle act and whip act. Harris published a book of short stories, titled “Lecile: This isn’t my first rodeo” in 2016.

Harris’ style was influenced by the work of several comedians he grew up admiring, including Emmett Kelly, Red Skelton, W.C. Fields, and Laurel and Hardy. The painted face he used in his act has been part of his persona since 1955 when he was asked to serve as an emergency replacement at Sardis, Miss., and used shoe polish and lipstick from the local drug store to prepare.

Harris fought bulls for 36 years, and when he was injured at age 52, getting picked up by a bull and taken through a fence at the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo in 1989, he pondered his next move. He returned to rodeo life as a clown in October that year.

“I’m doing what I want to do,” Harris said in the May 11, 2005, issue of ProRodeo Sports News. “I’m working the rodeos I want to work, the ones I enjoy. And, when I get to where I’m not enjoying it and I can’t get a little golf in on the side, then I’ll quit.”

Justin Rumford, the 2012-19 PRCA Clown of the Year, had fond memories of Harris.

“He was one of my favorite clowns ever, and besides that, he was a cool guy,” Rumford said. “Growing up in rodeo from the time I was little until I started clowning, every time he did the baseball act, I laughed, and I must have seen it 150 times. Lecile was special because when he would walk in the arena, he could make a first-time rodeo fan feel like they had known him forever.” ❖

TAPS program earns $850,000 grant to develop ag competitions

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Testing Ag Performance Solutions program, better known as TAPS, has been awarded an $850,000 Conservation Innovation Grant award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. TAPS was one of 19 Conservation Innovation Grant projects awarded this year.

TAPS is an innovative program developed by University of Nebraska–Lincoln research and extension specialists in 2017. The program facilitates a number of interactive, real-life farm-management competitions that bring together Husker scientists, extension professionals, producers, industry leaders, agriculture students, government regulators, agency personnel and others. Participants are able to test agricultural strategies and technologies during the competition; afterward, they are able to access data from the competitions.

“TAPS is a highly interactive farm-management competition that directly engages stakeholders in finding efficient and profitable ways to manage crop production,” said Daran Rudnick, TAPS team member.

Since the initial launch of TAPS at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, the program has expanded to include subsurface drip-irrigated corn and sprinkler-irrigated sorghum competitions, in addition to the sprinkler-irrigated corn competition. In 2019, a new TAPS program in cooperation with Oklahoma State University hosted its first sprinkler-irrigated corn competition at OSU’s McCaull Research and Demonstration Farm near Eva, Okla.

The TAPS team will use the grant funding over the next three years to support ongoing development of TAPS competitions in Nebraska and Oklahoma, while expanding knowledge-sharing and engagement by producers, extension educators, technology companies and service providers in other states, including Colorado and Kansas.

“The genius of the TAPS program is the fact that most of the time, it’s not extension or companies evaluating products and telling farmers about them; it’s farmers engaged in evaluation,” said Jason Warren, director of the OSU TAPS program. “If something doesn’t work right, they see it. Then we can work with service providers to make it better.”

The Conservation Innovation Grants program is funding the future of agriculture and conservation through grants to organizations and universities that are developing the next generation of tools and technologies to boost conservation on agricultural lands.

“We are funding innovation,” said Matthew Lohr, Natural Resources Conservation Service chief. “These projects are tackling some of our most critical challenges head-on and will result in new science-based tools for our toolbox and cutting-edge systems we can use to help farmers and ranchers improve the health of their operations and protect our natural resources for the future.”

For more information on the TAPS program, visit https://taps.unl.edu. ❖

Team roping record falls at San Antonio Rodeo

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Nobody was more surprised to set a new team roping arena record at the San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo than the men that stopped the clock in 3.5 seconds.

Two years ago, Coleman Proctor and Billy Jack Saebens had the fast time of the rodeo at 3.7 seconds. That was the record in the AT&T Center. That same year, Proctor and Saebens went on to be crowned the San Antonio Rodeo champions.

Now, Dustin Bird of Cut Bank, Mont., and Levi Tyan from Wallace, Neb., are hoping for similar results. They roped together here for the very first time. In fact, they hadn’t even met each other until they got here. Both had qualified and after entering the rodeo, they got paired up.

Their first outing didn’t go well, and they came up empty. But with everything to gain in the second round, they went for it and made history together. They will have their third steer on Wednesday night and are in good position to be back here for the Semifinals. They will go their separate ways after they rope Wednesday and meet back up in San Antonio later. Bird is going to Arizona for more rodeos and Tyan is going back to Nebraska to work on the family ranch.

Shorty Garrett has been at the top of the saddle bronc riding leaderboard in both rounds of Bracket 3. He tied for the win in the first round then got to make the victory lap around the arena alone on Tuesday. That was because of an 82-point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Zealous Departure.

Garrett, from Eagle Butte, S.D., finished three spots out of making the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last year. He is on fire this year and on track to be among the top 15 who ride for world championships next December. He just won Rodeo Rapid City in his home state of South Dakota and is currently third in the world standings.

Now, he is also making plans to be in the Alamo City for the Semifinals. He has already won $4,417 here and could add to that on Wednesday. The final round of Bracket 3 will begin at 7 p.m. in the AT&T Center on Wednesday night.

The following are unofficial results from the San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo, the 14-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year. Complete results are at www.sarodeo.com.

Bracket 3, round 2:

Bareback Riding: 1, Leighton Berry, Weatherford, Texas, 89 points on Calgary Stampede’s Zulu Warrior, $2,500. 2, Tim O’Connell, Zwingle, Iowa, 85, $2,000. 3, Paden Hurst, Huntsville, Texas, 83.5, $1,240. 4, Jamie Howlett, Rapid City, S.D., 81, $750.

Steer Wrestling: 1, Clayton Hass, Weatherford, Texas, 3.9 seconds, $2,500. 2, (tie) Ty Erickson, Helena, Mont., and Josh Clark, Belgrade, Mont., 4.0, $1,625 each. 4, (tie) Stockton Graves, Alva, Okla., and Bridger Anderson, Carrington, N.D., 4.1, $375.

Team Roping: 1, Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont., and Levi Tyan, Wallace, Neb., 3.5 seconds, $2,500.* 2, Dustin Egusquiza, Marianna, Fla., and Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., 4.1, $2,000. 3, Jeff Flenniken, Caldwell, Idaho and Tyler Worley, Berryville, Ark., 4.2, $1,250. 4, Jr. Dees, Aurora, S.D., and Lane Siggins, Eloy, Ariz., 6.7, $750.

Saddle Bronc Riding: 1, Shorty Garrett, Eagle Butte, S.D., 82 points on Calgary Stampede’s Zealous Departure, $2,500. 2, Kole Ashbacher, Arrowwood, Alberta, and Jacobs Crawley, Boerne, Texas, 80 and $1,625 each. 4, Logan James Hay, Wildwood, Alberta, 77.5, $750.

Tie-Down Roping: 1, (tie) Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., and Justin Smith, Leesville, La., 7.9 seconds and $2,250 each. 3, Marcos Costa, Menard, Texas, 8.2, $1,240. 4, Westyn Hughes, Caldwell, Texas, 8.5, $750.

Women’s Barrel Race: 1, Brittney Barnett, Stephenville, Texas, 13.91 seconds, $2,500. 2, Christine Laughlin, Reddick, Fla., 14.30, $2,000. 3, Leia Pluemer, Bosque Farms, NM., and Kathy Grimes, Medical Lake, Wash., 14.36 and $1,000 each.

Bull Riding: (three rides) 1, Jeff Askey, Athens, Texas, 86.5 points on Powder River Rodeo’s Valhalla, $2,750. 2, Jordan Hansen, Ponoka, Alberta, 83.5, $2,250. 3, Sage Steele Kimzey, Strong City, Okla., 67, $1,000.

CFVGA sixth annual conference will be held Feb. 24-25

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association will host its sixth annual conference Feb. 24-25, 2020, at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel. Kicking off the conference will be John Cravens, Yercic Label, addressing the latest in produce trends and research findings.

“High-quality produce remains the number one driver in a consumer’s grocery store choice, which provides Colorado fruit and vegetable growers with tremendous opportunity,” said Cravens. “In addition, 53 percent of shoppers said they want to see an expanded local assortment in their produce section.”

Yerecic Label conducted consumer research for 15 years and uses the research to suggest opportunities for growth in the produce sector at retail stores.

“Each year vegetable growers must decide what they will plant,” said Adrian Card, CFVGA founding board member and chair of the conference committee. “Knowing the direction of consumer trends can be very helpful as growers decide which veggies will be in the most demand.”

Conference break-out sessions include educational content on agricultural labor, organic rule changes, issues specific to small and beginning farmers, produce pricing strategies, new market opportunities, biological pest control, produce safety and more. CFVGA will have its annual member meeting Monday following lunch, and on Tuesday it will hold its awards luncheon. Sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities also are available.

Card said the conference is of value to all produce growers regardless of size or type of production. “All growers will benefit from seeing new technologies and products offered by an expected 50-plus exhibitors, and the grower-buyer networking session introduces farmers to produce buyers in a fast-paced, “speed-dating style format.”

More information on the CFVGA conference, including links to registration and lodging are be available at: https://cfvga.org. Exhibitor request forms are being accepted now. For questions or more information contact CFVGA at (303) 594-3827 or admin@coloradoproduce.org. Use the same links to inquire about exhibit and sponsorship opportunities.

The CFVGA is comprised of more than 250 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $485 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 90,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production. ❖

Looking for Greeley Stampede memorabilia

The Greeley Stampede is turning 100! To celebrate we are putting together a collection of unique and historic Greeley Stampede items and we need your help with donations to the effort.

If you have items that are relevant to the history of the Greeley Stampede, particularly from the 70’s or earlier, we would like to give them a good home. We are looking for items that individuals would be interested in donating to the Stampede to become part of our permanent collection.

“There is a lot of history with the Greeley Stampede in our community” commented Justin Watada, general manager of the Greeley Stampede. “We want to do our best to create a complete picture of our history and preserve it for future generations.”

Items can be donated at the Greeley Stampede office located at 600 N 14th Ave next to the arena in Island Grove Park, Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Before dropping off your items, please complete the donation form and bring it with your items so that we may credit you and record where the donation came from. Donation forms can be found on our website at GreeleyStampede.org/p/100Years.

For more information, please contact Justin Watada at justin@greeleystampede.org.

NWSS puts on its 25th An Evening of Dancing Horses in 2020

The 2020 National Western Stock Show put on its 25th An Evening of Dancing Horses show and for a special treat it invited back a number of the most popular routines from the past.

Those performances included equestrian riding and choreography set to the themes and music of Zorro, Wizard of Oz, Lion King, Magnificent Seven, Pirates of the Caribbean, Man From La Mancha, Phantom of the Opera, and more.

Award winning singer Michael Martin Murphey, who the NWSS asked to produce the original An Evening of Dancing Horses back in 1995, was also asked to return for the 25th anniversary of the event.

Murphey started the show by singing his famous song “Wildfire,” and then the equestrian entertainment began. Accompanied for the first time at the NWSS by the excellent Colorado School of Mines orchestra, the routines spanned all types of riding disciplines and had something for everyone. ❖

2020 rodeo finals makes history for NWSS

The 114th National Western Stock Show made history for its long-running rodeo; changing its nearly 90-year-old rodeo format to a tournament style set-up in which the contestant that won the championship round also took home the prestigious NWSS buckle.

For the first time at the NWSS, a semi-final round was created that whittled the field from the top 24 competitors coming into each event down to 12 contestants per event for the final round. To top it off, the final round saw everyone’s scores wiped clean from the semi-final round, making the highest score or best time in Sunday’s (Jan. 26) short go the overall winner of the high profile rodeo. It was a fan friendly format that had the capacity crowd cheering.

“It was a pretty electric crowd,” said Utah bareback rider Mason Clements, who rode Cervi Rodeo’s high kicking “Gander Goose” for 89.50 points to best a talented lineup of competitors that included multiple time PRCA world champions Will Lowe and Tim O’Connell. “It makes it a lot of fun.”

Fun for the crowd and fun for the contestants.

“I love the tournament style,” said Utah saddle bronc cowboy Rusty Wright. Wright brought the full house down with a 91-point ride on Cervi Rodeo’s well-known bronc Ricky Bobby. The score tied popular Wyoming saddle bronc rider Brody Cress’ 91 points, but Wright won the tie breaker calculations for the NWSS buckle. “You have to ride good,” continued Wright about the new format for the historic Denver rodeo. “You just don’t get on two good horses in the long round. You have to ride both of them good and then you have to ride good in the semi-finals. You’ve got to work towards it and I like that. You get in the short round and this place is chuck-full and the fans are loud. I kind of feed off it, you know. I try harder when I can hear the crowd screaming. Denver is always my favorite for the atmosphere and the crowd. This place is awesome.”

It wasn’t just soaring, high point bronc rides that revved the packed stands, the new rodeo format also had the timed event contestants pushing it to the limit. With the best time on Sunday taking home the title, the barrel racers pushed their runs with aggressive turns and high octane sprints for the timers. While a few sub-15 second times were posted in the rounds leading up to the NWSS final, it was the reining WPRA Rookie of the Year that turned in the only one of the championship round, and that effort notched her the coveted NWSS buckle and a jump start for her 2020 season.

“I looked up and saw that time and I was like, ‘No way!’” said Carly Taylor of her 14.99-second result aboard 9-year-old “Diva.” “I was just super excited. I knew when she left to go to the first barrel, she was flying. She was really running today compared to the other days.”

Taylor qualified for the final round with times hovering between 15.40-15.60, so unveiling her fastest run in the intense atmosphere of the short go worked perfect for the NWSS’ new rodeo format.

“I really liked that,” Taylor said of the tournament style rodeo. “I was curious to see how that would work, and it worked,” she added with a laugh. “I definitely will be coming back next year.”

Returning next year will also be back-to-back bull riding title winner Brody Yeary. Yeary rode a spinning and kicking Cervi Rodeo bull named Rawhide for 83.50 points and finished ahead of six-time PRCA world champion Sage Kimzey for his second consecutive NWSS title. Winning Denver titles in both the average score format of 2019 and the brand new tournament style format for 2020, Yeary appreciated both, while acknowledging this year’s format helped him remain in the chase for the buckle.

“Everybody has to emphasize each ride or run the day of,” said Yeary about 2020’s change. “I got thrown off one earlier in the week, but I was high enough on the second one to come back in the semi-finals and that gave me a shot to come back and win it today. In the past, if I would have gotten thrown off my first one, even if I made the short round, there wouldn’t be a very good chance that I would be able to win it. A clean slate (for the semi-finals and final round), especially when it is an even pen of bulls, makes it anybody’s ball game that day. With all the good guys out there rodeoing right now, it is anybody’s ball game either day and the stock kind of divides that up. But right now, anybody can win on any given day.”

“We just are so pleased with how it all went,” said Paul Andrews, NWSS president and CEO, about the enthusiasm shown towards the rodeo’s format change by the crowds, as well as numerous contestants. Although anything new is bound to meet skepticism and flaws tend to reveal themselves over time, the NWSS is happy to build upon this year’s success. “There might be a tweak we will want to try to do with the PRCA over the course of the next few years to see if we can even improve it in some manner, but I tell you, I am excited to watch it again next year,” summed up Andrews.

Considering 2020 also marked the first time the historic NWSS rodeo’s championship round was broadcast live on television (via the Cowboy Channel), it is a guarantee there are plenty more people who share his excitement. ❖

3-Time PRCA Bareback Champion Will Lowe injured in 2020 NWSS Finals

There is a saying in the sport of rodeo: “It’s not if you get hurt. It’s when and how bad.”

Three-time PRCA world champion bareback rider Will Lowe of Canyon, Texas, has been competing at a high level in ProRodeo since 2001. With 15 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo appearances under his belt and an untold number of rodeo titles to his name, he is one of the best bareback riders to ever get on a bronc.

So his match-up in the 2020 National Western Stock Show rodeo championship round against C5 Rodeo’s F13 Virgil had everyone buzzing, including fellow contestants.

Virgil is a powerhouse of a bucking bronc, snow white and weighing in at about 1,500 pounds, with a pair of “Bareback Horse of the Year” honors and a slew of other awards. If you make a successful ride aboard Virgil, there is a good chance you walk away with a rodeo title. Against Lowe, it was going to be decorated cowboy versus decorated horse and would bring to life the saying, “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

Inside the Denver Coliseum, the rodeo announcer let the packed house and everyone watching on live TV know how good the match-up was between Lowe and Virgil, so when the gate cracked the crowd was rocking. Lowe spurred a high kicking Virgil for the first four jumps and then the huge bronc’s power got the best of the Texas cowboy. Not spurring anymore and just trying to hang on, Lowe finished the ride but was not in control when the buzzer sounded. With the pickup men closing in, the big white horse made a quick left turn and kept kicking, and it was obvious something was happening with Lowe.

With his hand caught in the rigging, Lowe was unable to get a clean dismount. Trying to get off, he instead fell from Virgil’s right side with his hand still trapped. The force of Virgil’s continued kicking swung Lowe around to the back and one of Virgil’s hooves caught Lowe in the face, knocking him free and sending him flying to the dirt. It looked bad for the veteran rodeo cowboy. Within seconds, the Justin Sports Medicine team was inside the arena and thousands of assembled fans were quiet in prayer. After a number of minutes, Lowe could be seen wanting to get up and the Justin team assisted him to his feet and out of the arena, much to the relief of the thousands in attendance.

Updates came in over the next 24 hours of trauma to Lowe’s orbital bone and a deep facial laceration, which were tended by doctors at the hospital. As of Jan. 30, 2020, the last social media update from Lowe’s wife sent out good words from Will himself.

“Thank you everyone for the prayers and thoughts! The Lord had his best angels around me. They fixed my orbital bone and stitched me up. We are back home now, resting and ready to get back to it! It is humbling to see all the support from so many people. Thank you all again and God Bless!!” ❖

Gov. Ricketts announces schedule for Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney

LINCOLN, Neb. – Gov. Pete Ricketts announced the schedule for the 32nd Governor’s Ag Conference. The annual event gives producers and agri-business leaders in Nebraska an opportunity to discuss the state’s No. 1 industry and strategies to support future growth in agriculture. The conference is scheduled for March 9-10, 2020, at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.

“The Governor’s Ag Conference brings together Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers and industry leaders for a conversation about the important issues that matter to all of us,” said Gov. Ricketts. “From growing Nebraska agriculture through entrepreneurship to developing emerging markets, the future of the ag industry in Nebraska depends on people willing to lead and learn. I hope you will join us in Kearney for this special event.”

“Knowledgeable experts at local, state, and federal levels have already committed to speaking at this year’s Governor’s Ag Conference, making this an opportunity you won’t want to miss,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman. “Conference speakers and attendees take advantage of their time at the Governor’s Ag Conference to network and share ideas.”

The conference starts Monday, March 9, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. with a panel presentation featuring Nebraska entrepreneurs Sara Holmquist, Normal Roasting Company; Matthew Brugger, Upstream Farms; Jeff Hornug, Blue River Trucks; Hannah Esch, Oak Barn Beef; and Steve Tippery, RealmFive Agriculture. Tom Field, of the University of Nebraska’s Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, will moderate this panel presentation that will include questions from the audience.

The “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception featuring an assortment of food and beverages from Nebraska begins at 6 p.m. on March 9.

The conference resumes on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 9 a.m. with Michele Payn, Cause Matters Corp., and author of Food Bullying: How to Avoid Buying B.S. Payn will give insights into our eating choices by challenging food beliefs and identifying neuromarketing tactics used to generate food sales.

Next on the agenda will be a panel presentation addressing new and emerging markets in Nebraska. Panelists include: Tyler and Amy Bruch of Cyclone Farms, Inc. and Jacob Robison with the Nebraska Hops Growers Association.Andrei Iancu, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will then talk about growing start-up companies in Nebraska.

The Governor’s Ag Conference is coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and is co-sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America. A $125 registration fee covers activities and food for the entire conference. Registration and additional information is available at nda.nebraska.gov or by calling NDA toll-free at (800) 831-0550.