Cowboys and cowgirls alike ventured to the 49th annual Evergreen Rodeo on
Father’s Day weekend. Competitors — both local and from as far away as Honolulu, Hawaii — tried their hand to tame the bulls, ride the horses and wrestle down the steers for two days at the El Pinal Rodeo Arena, now the Esco Construction Arena.
BACK IN THE SADDLE
If you follow professional rodeo, you probably remember the name Cimmaron Gerke. The Brighton native reached the bareback riding finals in the Wrangler National Finals five times and was co-champion in 2005.
Now into his 30s, Gerke is on the comeback trail after a couple years away from competitive rodeo. His eyes are trained on earning a return trip to the granddaddy of the sport in Las Vegas for the first time since 2008.
“This year might be a little tough; I haven’t done a ton of rodeos yet,” Gerke said before he finished eighth with a score of 76. “If I was to win Cheyenne (which he’s done before) or something like that, then I’d probably make a run for it. But we’ll have to see how the summer goes.”
Improved health — he’s had time to recover from eight surgeries in his career — and the advent of The American Rodeo and the addition in 2012 of a world finals for the Professional Roughstock Series (PRS) piqued Gerke’s desire to return to competition.
Gerke reached the semifinals but couldn’t advance to the 10-man finals of The American Rodeo, a one-day event that was held March 14 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and offered $2 million in prizes, including $100,000 to event winners.
He’s also become a regular on the PRS, which is limited to bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding, with the top 12 in points advancing to the world finals. Prior to the Evergreen Rodeo, Gerke stood third.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Micky Downare and Tim Shirley have quite the connection, and her name is Mindy.
Downare, a 30-year-old from Hartsel, and Shirley, a native of Bailey, used to travel a lot on the rodeo circuit. It was, however, during a time when they took a break from traveling together that Shirley hooked up with Downare’s older sister, Mindy, and later married her.
That’s not the only connection they share. They also win a lot at the Evergreen Rodeo. Downare has one previous victory, and his brother, Monte, has won three times as has Shirley. Downare almost did it again in bareback riding this year.
After getting a 77 in his first ride, Downare was awarded an automatic re-ride when his first horse turned around backwards in the shoot. The second ride resulted in an 83 and a second-place finish behind an 84 scored by Wyatt Denny of Minden, Nev.
“I felt really good. He was a bucking little horse,” Downare said. “The corner caught me a little by surprise, but things lined out, and it turned out pretty good.”
LAPP TAKES A SPILL
A resident of nearby Kittredge, Zilla Lapp would like nothing better than to show off his skills as a saddle bronc rider before the Evergreen-area fans. But for the second straight year, the 40-year-old Lapp failed to complete his ride, taking a nasty fall and landing on his upper back just seconds out of the chute.
“He stood me up in my stirrups. I got my spur out and everything went good. Then I saw sky and nothing else,” a still-shaky Lapp said after being examined and released by the medical team. “It’ll work out all right. It’s good. I’m one of the older guys, so just the fact that I’m able to do this is good enough.”
Like a good cowboy, Lapp will be back in the saddle again, despite his advancing years.
“I’m all sponsored up,” he said, turning his back to show Bergen Bark Inn and Black Hat Cattle Co. on the back of his shirt. “I’m working on a few more sponsors, too. It’s an expensive sport, but when you persevere and keep going right, it makes it worth your while.”
SHIRLEY AGAIN A SPECTATOR
Tim Shirley of Bailey missed his third straight Evergreen Rodeo because of a history of concussions and a broken L5 vertebra in February 2012 and most assuredly won’t ride again.
But he was in attendance both days and watched his brother-in-law, Mickey Downare, compete in bareback riding.
Shirley had surgery on the broken vertebra last October, which, he said, “was a bad idea. It’s even worse now.’’
One drawback to not competing — and, especially, winning — at Evergreen is that Shirley now must go shopping for a Father’s Day present. In years past, he passed the victor’s belt buckle to his dad, Ed.
The following are the top-five finishers at the 49th annual Evergreen Rodeo held June 14-15:
Wyatt Johnson, 4.8 seconds; Talon Sterkel, 5.5; Les Shepperson, 6.9; Aaron Visler, 7.1; Chisum Docheff 7.4
Wyatt Denny, 84; Mickey Downare, 83; Grant Denny, 82; Craig Wisehart, 81; Zach Curran, 80
Ty Blasingame/J.W. Borrego, 4.9 seconds; Garrett Grieve/Jason Furnival, 5.4; Jay Tittel/Ryan Tittel, 5.8; Jake Day/TW Wilson, 6.1; Casey Adams/Riley Pedro, 6.1
Colin Stalley, 79; Colton Miller, 78; Sam Harper, 73; Blaze Cress, 73; Wade Mosher, 71
Darnell Johnson, 9.6 seconds; Trevor Thiel, 10.3; Britt Bath, 11.1; Mitch McAdow, 11.3; Calvin Brevik, 12.2; Joe James, 12.2
Jenna Waggoner, 17.7; Brittany Pozzi, 17.8; Stacy Dysart, 17.9; Chelsea Toy, 18.0; Kelly Kennedy-Joseph, 18.0; Wendy McKee, 18.0
Triston Eugene Boor, 75
Michael Hicks and Craig Harper contributed to this report.