GERRY - Names familiar to fans of the Gerry Volunteer Firemen's PRCA rodeo made headlines at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas last week.
This 10-day, nationally-televised event features the top 15 contestants in each of the seven rodeo events - based on their earnings over the past year - competing for $6,250,000 in prize money.
Gathering the most headlines was saddle bronc rider, Jacobs Crawley, who hails from Stephenville, Texas. Crawley won the saddle bronc event in Gerry the past two summers and went to Las Vegas ranked No. 5 in the world with earnings of nearly $180,000. Crawley surprised the rodeo world by capturing his first world title and a payoff of $35,000. In addition, his brother, Sterling Crawley, who has also competed in Gerry, was among the top 15 who qualified for this world-wide competition.
Pictured is Jacobs Crawley, left, of Stephenville, Texas, receiving his belt buckle from rodeo chairman Tom Atwell. Crawley was awarded the buckle for winning the saddle bronc event at the Gerry Rodeo this past summer. Crawley is now the World Champion in the same event after finishing in the top spot at the National Finals Rodeo, in Las Vegas.
Last year's winner of the bareback competition in Gerry, Tim O'Connell of Zwingle, Iowa, was named as the PRCA World Rookie of the Year in his event as he out-distanced all other bronc riders, winning nearly $50,000 in his first year on the professional rodeo circuit.
Not to be left out in the competition, Painted Pony Pro Rodeo, the Gerry rodeo's stock contractor, had one of their outstanding bucking horses, Shana's Delight, chosen as one of the top horses in the nation.
This 10-year-old buckskin gelding made the 2,700 mile trip from New York State to Las Vegas worthwhile as he made two outstanding appearances with his riders winning more than $25,000 on his back.
This honor follows his being named "Bareback Horse of the Year" in the Professional Rough Stock Series of rodeos. He bucked in Gerry last summer and contractor Shawn Graham says he will be back again this year.
Another familiar name to Gerry, announcer Greg Simas, was selected from dozens of announcers nationwide to make a first-time appearance as the master of ceremonies for the Welcoming Reception prior to the start of the NFR, where he introduced the 15 competitors in each event. He says he is "blessed" to have had this opportunity after having announced more than 40 rodeos this past year. He is again signed to be in Gerry this coming summer.
The Gerry Volunteer Fire Department will sponsor its 70th-consecutive annual pro rodeo with five performances from July 30 through Aug. 2. It is the longest running rodeo east of the Mississippi, with more than 125 cowboys and cowgirls competing for $45,000 in prize money. All proceeds benefit the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department as they respond to more than 350 fire and rescue calls annually.