Photo by George Hipple Photography
A saddle bronc ride in 2012
North Platte gives a nod to its heritage this week, and turns into Rodeo Town for four days.
Several hundred cowboys and cowgirls will stampede into town, along with their mounts, bucking horses and bulls, and roping calves and steers.
The Buffalo Bill Rodeo takes place June 12-15 at the Wild West Arena, and it’s the largest pro rodeo in the nation this weekend.
Cowboys across the nation, including Nebraska talent, choose to enter the rodeo, and that’s in part because of the payout, says rodeo chairman Jack Morris.
“With $5,000 added money per event, the total purse money is pretty significant,” Morris said.
Last year, the rodeo paid out $97,000 to its winners. And the rodeo offers good amenities for contestants, with meals and hookups for their trailers.
“When cowboys come in in the middle of the night, they can hook up and don't have to check in," he said.
The rodeo also gives away buckles, a disappearing tradition, Morris said, “with engraved and raised letters.”
Among the 423 entries are 37 bareback riders, 45 saddle bronc riders, 49 tie-down ropers, 70 team ropers, 93 steer wrestlers, 86 barrel racers, and 60 bull riders. Two-time world champion steer wrestler Dean Gorsuch of Gering, will compete, as will five-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Steven Dent of Mullen.
The 1990 world champion tie-down roper Troy Pruitt of Gering, and his son, Riley Pruitt will compete.
Other Nebraskans competing in North Platte include Garrett Nokes of McCook, Dan Barner of Hershey, six-time Linderman winner Kyle Whitaker of Chambers, June Holeman of Arcadia, and two-time NFR qualifier Cort Scheer of Elsmere.
For McCook’s Nokes, the North Platte rodeo is like a hometown rodeo. Since he began pro rodeo in 1996, he’s only missed one year in North Platte, and has won a “trifecta” of sorts: the tie-down roping title in 1997, the steer roping in 1999, and last year, with heeler Matt Wilken, he tied for the team roping title. It’s the closest pro rodeo to home for Nokes, and “I've always really enjoyed it and seemed to do well there.”
Saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer looks forward to seeing friends and family when he rides in North Platte. “I love coming back and seeing people I don't get to see through the year. It’s always good to rodeo in your home state, and Bennie (Beutler, stock contractor) has a lot of good broncs to get on, and there’s good money added. It makes sense to come back.”
The rodeo kicks off each night at 8 pm. Rodeo clown and barrelman John Harrison will provide the comedy. Harrison’s grandfather Freckles Brown, the 1962 world champion bull rider, competed in North Platte.
ProTour FMX Freestyle Motocross entertains fans following the rodeo each night. Barrel racing slack competition is at 8 am on Wed., June 12 and Thurs. June 13, with tie-down roping and steer wrestling also in slack on Thursday.
Tickets for the rodeo are $20 for reserved seating and $13 for adults and $7 for kids ages 12 and under in the upper grandstand. They can be purchased at the NebraskalandDays office, online at NebraskalandDays.com, and at the gate.
For more information, visit the website or call the office at 308.532.7939.