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America’s Sport

Cowboys, cowgirls to converge on North Platte for annual Buffalo Bill Rodeo

North Platte, Neb. — Over 580 pro rodeo cowboys and cowgirls will converge on North Platte June 16-19 for America’s sport: rodeo.

The annual Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte at the Wild West Arena will include cowboys competing in six events and cowgirls, members of the Women’s Pro Rodeo Association, competing in two events, hailing from 24 states and one Canadian province.

For brothers Tucker and Cooper White, they won’t be far from home.



The Hershey, Neb., cowboys will team rope in North Platte on June 17.

They’re upping their rodeo game this year.



Growing up team roping in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association, the two have been PRCA members since their college days and they’re ready to step out on the big stage.

“We were in the top 50 in the world last year,” Cooper said. “We told ourselves, we wanted to rodeo harder and try to make a new goal.”

“This is the first year we’ve stepped out in the deep water and we’re trying it on.” Their new goal to qualify for Rodeo Houston and San Antonio’s rodeo, where the top 35 and 45 in the world respectively, can compete. Last year, Cooper qualified but Tucker did not; Rodeo Houston canceled in the middle of its 2020 event and was canceled this year as well.

They love roping in North Platte. It’s the closest pro rodeo to home for them, and they have memories of being there as kids with their dad, Jeff White, who is a rodeo committee member.

“I remember going to slack, sitting next to the guys as they ate donuts and drank coffee,” Cooper said, referring to the big-name cowboys who came to North Platte each year.

Steer wrestler Cody Devers, Balko, Okla., is the 2020 Buffalo Bill Rodeo champion. He will be back this year to compete again. Photo by Don Christner

They have team roped at the rodeo five or six times, winning money once.

The rodeo has an exciting atmosphere, they said. “There’s a lot of electricity in that place,” Cooper said. I go to rodeos all year long that might add more money or be bigger, but when you’re there (in North Platte), there’s more electricity there than at any other rodeo.”

BARREL RACER

Another local contestant is barrel racer Melissa Brouillette.

She was “born” into rodeo, with a dad who competed, but after high school, didn’t do any rodeoing until she got into her 30s.

This will be her second year to compete at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, after having run there in 2019.

She’ll be aboard her 12-year-old gelding, Spider, who is her “go-to” horse for arenas with deeper ground conditions.

A real estate manager, barrel racing feeds her competitive spirit and love of horses and being outdoors. Brouillette competes not only in pro rodeos but in Nebraska State Rodeo Association rodeos as well.

Her husband, Tim, is part of the Cody Cavalry, a volunteer group that helps out at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo and NebraskalandDays concerts, so the two of them will volunteer with concessions for one night of rodeo and one concert night.

The Buffalo Bill Rodeo is one of her favorites. “I love this rodeo,” she said. “It’s my hometown rodeo and it’s so fun.”

Brouillette will compete on Thursday during slack, the extra competition that doesn’t fit into the evening performances.

North Platte champions who will return to defend their titles include steer wrestler Cody Devers, Balko, Okla.; saddle bronc rider Jake Finlay, Canyon, Texas; breakaway roper CY Christensen, Kennebec, S.D.; barrel racer Michelle Alley, Madisonville, Texas; bull rider Denton Fugate, Buffalo, Mo., and all-around Zach Jongbloed, Iowa, La.

Area contestants who will compete at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo include Bailey Brown and Misty Brown (both breakaway ropers) Brouillette (barrel racing), both of North Platte; Brody Cleveland, Keystone (steer wrestling); and Levi Tyan, Wallace (team roping).

World champions who will compete at the rodeo include saddle bronc rider Ryder Wright, Beaver, Utah; tie-down roper Shad Mayfield, Clovis, N.M.; steer wrestler Jacob Edler, Alva, Okla.; and barrel racer Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, Texas.

This year’s rodeo will be held June 16-19 at the Wild West Arena in North Platte. It begins at 8 p.m. each night and tickets can be purchased online at NebraskalandDays.com, at the NebraskalandDays office (2801 Charlie Evans Drive, North Platte); and at the gate. For more information, visit the website or call the office at 308-532-7939.

Nebraska contestants competing at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo:

Unofficial listing; contestants may not come due to scheduling or travel difficulties

Bareback riding: Orin Larsen, Gering; Garrett Shadbolt, Merriman

Tie-down roping: JT Adamson, Cody; Cody Darnell, Gordon; Miles Garwood, Atkinson; Cody Henderson, Alliance; Austin Hurlburt, Norfolk; Riley Pruitt, Gering; Cody Rieker, Lexington; Tanner Stec, Bassett; Riley Wakefield, O’Neill; Ben Wood, Greeley

Steer wrestling:

Brody Cleveland, Keystone; Jake Fulton, Valentine

Trevor Haake, Grand Island; Hoyt Kraeger, Avoca; Reed Kraeger, Elwood; Del Ray Kraupie, Bridgeport; Jake Kraupie, Bridgeport; Dru Melvin, Hebron; Tyler Ravenscroft, Nenzel; Jeff Richardson, Kearney; Riley Wakefield, O’Neill; Kyle Whitaker, Chambers

Team roping:

Heath Barlow, Ewing; Mitch Barney, Blair; Cooper Brott, Gothenburg; Gralyn Elkins, Ericson; Todd Hollenbeck, Long Pine; Butch Levell, Omaha; Jacob Schnoor, Chambers; Clayton Symons, Mitchell; Levi Tyan, Wallace; Riley Wakefield, O’Neill; Cooper White, Hershey; Tucker White, Hershey

Breakaway roping: Bailey Brown, North Platte; Misti Brown, North Platte; Amber Coleman, Orchard; Sydney Graff, Long Pine; Georgie Lage, Arthur; Sarah Morrissey, Thedford; Katie Mundorf, Mullen; Kayla Olson, Chadron; Talli Pokorny, Bartlett; Brandy Schaack, Hyannis; Bailey Witt, Valentine

Barrel racing: Melissa Brouillette, North Platte; Jamie Chaffin, Burwell; Deb Cox, Mullen; Patty Finney, Ainsworth; Pam Hollenbeck, Long Pine; Branda Marsh, Thedford; Talli Pokorny, Bartlett; Carrie Sutton, Ashby; Cheryl Wallace, Broken Bow

Bull riding: Garrett Wickett, Pierce


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