Largest field in recent memory to compete at 43rd BFI
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Due to the 2020 scramble to find a new location after the coronavirus pandemic cancelled its venue in Reno, Nev., the 43rd Annual Bob Feist Invitational opened more slots than usual and will showcase 140 teams on June 21 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla. That pushes the purse well past $700,000 in cash and prizes — which is just fine with rodeo’s only $7 million cowboy.
“Because of the location switch, the BFI is not the same — but has the potential to be even bigger,” said Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, who has earned a record 25 gold buckles in professional rodeo and won the prestigious Timed-Event Championships of the World a record seven times. “I’m obviously glad I’ll be at the Lazy E this weekend. I’ve won about a million bucks in that arena.”
The richest Open roping in the world typically features the world’s best 100 professional teams competing over six rounds behind an 18-foot score. The Lazy E Arena is allowing a 20-foot score this year. The BFI again anchors Wrangler BFI Week presented by Yeti, June 20-24, which also features several amateur roping events.
Brazile, partnered with Oklahoma cowboy Gage Williams on Sunday, isn’t the only world-class cowboy up for sale in the BFI’s annual cowboy auction, scheduled for 6 p.m Saturday at Edmond’s Hilton Garden Inn. The auction is open to the public, free of charge, and sells roping training aids in addition to the BFI’s entered teams. The event raises tens of thousands of dollars for charities like Wounded Warriors Project.
Teams to watch include two-time world champ Chad Masters and defending world champion heeler Wesley Thorp, who was also the 2016 BFI champion. The BFI victory is literally the only one that has escaped Masters throughout his 20-year career. Another good bet? Three-time world champion — and three-time BFI champion — Clay Tryan partnering with former BFI champ Jake Long.
Including the two teams, six entered this year carry a whopping 29 gold buckles into the Lazy E. The world-class 2020 BFI will pit the old guard team of Jake Barnes and Rich Skelton, plus recent champs Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, against the likes of Luke Brown and Patrick Smith, and Kaleb Driggers with Cory Petska.
Plus, the event’s unique geographic location in middle America this year has the BFI attracting top Oklahoma talent, including heelers like Nick Rowland and Jett Hillman and headers Zac Small (the 2016 BFI heading champ) and Charles Pogue (a three-time BFI champ who is entering his first “Feist” in 10 years). Former world champion Mike Beers, meanwhile, has entered his 43rd consecutive BFI to maintain his perfect record.
All ropings throughout the week are streamed live on http://www.WranglerNetwork.com. This year’s Hooey BFI Jr. Championships will launch Wrangler BFI Week on Saturday, June 20, with the reception Saturday night. The BFI itself begins Sunday morning. Monday will feature the 11.5 and 12.5 ropings; Tuesday the Cactus #9.5 Over 40 and brand-new 10 Over 40. Wrapping up the week is the Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl Challenge on June 24 — again expected to be the highest-paying women’s roping in America.
Every event excepting the BFI is free of charge. BFI tickets are available in person at the Lazy E box office; by phone at (405) 282-RIDE; or online at http://www.ticketmaster.com. Visit http://www.BFIWeek.com for more information. Reservations with special roper rates are available at Edmond’s Hilton Garden Inn.