Wyoming family gears up to host classic barrel racing event
April 20, 2018
A northeast Wyoming ranching family is gearing up to host an exciting classic barrel racing event this fall, that's expected to draw nearly 400 participants while offering desired prize money.
The 37th Annual Fizz Bomb Futurity Classic in Gillette, Wyo., will be held Sept. 6-9, 2018, at the Cam-Plex Multi Event Center, and this will be the third consecutive year that Zane and Stacey Thar and their children will host it.
"I'm settling in now for this third year," said Stacey Thar, who lives 15 miles east of Gillette, in Rozet, Wyo. "The first two years hosting, were nerve-wracking just because of the magnitude of the number of the participants, and it's such a prestigious event in Campbell County, and it's a well-known national event. I wanted to be sure the ground was good, and the prizes were good and that it was an event that people enjoyed and wanted to come back to."
Fizz Bomb is all about barrel racing, friendly camaraderie and thousands of dollars in payout.
"At Fizz Bomb, we have $23,250 in added cash money along with some amazing incentives including $10,000 added Future Fortunes Bonus Money, $10,000 added Cowboy State Stallion incentive, $5,000 Triple Crown 100, $5,000 added WPRA PESI (Pro Elite Sire Incentive,) $2,500 Mare Power Bonus money. Future Fortunes has been the longest running incentive at Fizz Bomb and we feel honored to have so many amazing organizations believe in this event, by adding these large incentives," Thar said.
Future Fortunes Inc., is a program created by stallion owners who breed barrel horses and are intent on enhancing and increasing awareness and growth of the barrel racing sport nationwide.
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"Fizz Bomb was one of our very first futurities because the futurity itself has such a good reputation," said Mary Ellen Hickman, president of Future Fortunes. "It has changed hands twice. Everybody should have to produce one large event, and you can quote me on that. Hats off to the producers. It takes a year of planning an event, and the Thars do an excellent job of getting results in, in a timely manner, and accurately." Without good producers, Hickman said, Future Fortunes could not exist. "The Thars are one of our good producers, and they're great people."
Fizz Bomb was named by founders Karen McCurley and Sherry Morrison after a cartoon in Western Horseman magazine in the early 1980s was given the name.
In addition to the Fizz Bomb event, the Thar family was also host to the Twisted Sister barrel racing event held over Easter weekend.
"My friend Paula Connell and I put on The Twisted Sister barrel racing together. Her daughter thought of the name. And we've been very fortunate to have a great relationship with Future Fortunes and they added another $10,000 to our Twisted Sister's money run opening event.
Besides all the work involved hosting Twisted Sister, Stacey also enjoyed competing at the event.
Additionally, the Thars have been holding ranch sortings for 11 years. They host a Memorial Day ranch sorting at the Cam-Plex. They'll also host a ranch sorting in Douglas, Wyo., at the Wyoming State Fair in August, another ranch sorting in Gillette, and then a ranch sorting at the Black Hills Stock Show in South Dakota in January. Ranch sorting is a competition in which two team members sort 10 numbered cattle out of a pen in numerical order.
Ranching is full-time for Zane and Stacey. They also have an artificial insemination program for their cattle. "When we AI, it's a couple times a day for several weeks in a row in the summer."
Ranching and organizing events require all hands on deck from family, and friends. Several generations of the Thar family assist with these large projects. Although their oldest child, Shaylee just graduated from college with a business degree and lives in Phoenix, Ariz … Zane and Stacey, and their two sons, who live on the family's historic homestead property, all put in their 300 percent energy and time to help the events be enjoyable and successful.
"We work as a family, it's a very wholesome lifestyle that not many people get to enjoy. Our sons, Coy Thar, 14, and Cade Thar, 11, the fifth generation of Thar ranchers, are definitely getting to be quite the ranch hands and they keep us on our toes always," Stacey said.
"The two boys set the barrels, and they're old enough now that I can't get them to run barrels. But it's fun to see them out there sorting with their dad and their grandpa. They both also enjoy roping calves, steers, hunting and playing basketball," Stacey added.
Credit also goes to Stacey's good friend Mary Hipsag, with whom she raises foals. Hipsag also helps with event organization, and handles a large load of the vital secretarial work in the office at all their events.
Stacey also said that she and her husband, a fourth-generation rancher, are fortunate to have Zane's parents, Gary and Susan Thar, to partner with in their ranching endeavors.
"Gary and Susan ran a feed store in Campbell County for over 40 years, and recently sold the store and retired. But we've always partnered with them, and sold registered Black Angus bulls until five years ago. Now, we buy and AI breed heifers. Both of my in-laws are very active. My father-in-law ranch sorts a lot, and they have concession stands at our events. My Dad and Mom, Bob and Julie Shock, along with my sister's family get involved with all of the events," Stacey said. "It pretty much takes a village, family and friends."
The Thar family has almost two dozen horses.
"We have some horses that are dual purpose, and others that do other ranch work. Each horse literally pulls his own weight," Thar said. "Some run barrels, some are rope horses and some do other jobs."
The Thars live in Rozet on the Zane family's original homestead that was proved up (received a government land patent) in 1905 by Dutch Henry Thar.
Stacey wasn't raised on a ranch, but she ran barrels as a little girl, although, she admits, not very seriously. "When I married a rancher and we went to one ranch sorting, we had a blast. I thought…this was fun, we should do this. By the time I had my youngest child and he turned 1, we hosted our first event. I don't miss out on my kids' activities much, because I can schedule events and work around their schedule. I really like people, I love horses, and I love following the blood lines, and to celebrate people when they do well."
Husband Zane didn't rodeo, although they enjoy competing at the ranch sorting. Each of their boys rodeo.
"They're getting ready to kick off the junior high season this spring," Stacey said. "Our older son Coy did qualify for the junior high national finals that was held last year in Lebanon, Tenn. He ended up ranking 22nd out of 244 breakaway ropers," she said.
Meanwhile, this will be younger son Cade's first year competing at the junior high rodeos.
"Cade is really excited," Stacey said. "He used to be the little brother who used to stay home, but how he's getting to compete."
In addition to the boys' rodeo competitions, they enjoy fixing fence with their dad and grandpa. "It's a fifth generation, and we're really fortunate to raise them this way with their family. It's neat, because it's near and dear to my father-in-law. I would say, that's probably my favorite part. it's just really special. First and foremost, we're a ranching family that puts on events, and we cherish the people we meet and the accomplishments."
Some of Stacey's most valued memories are feeding and working cows with her husband, children, father-in-law and close family and friends.
In addition to ranching, the Thars also host and are guides for deer, antelope and elk hunters on the Thar properties. They also cook for the hunters. "A lot of our events are scheduled around our AI program, and not when we're branding nor during hunting season."
It's the family's life work and joy woven into one. "I feel fortunate that we get to do what we do, and have the people in our lives who help us along the way," Stacey said.
For more information, go to http://www.tharranchproductions.com. ❖
— Hadachek is freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.