BAKER — Last weekend’s 24th annual Old Spanish Trail Rodeo seems to have been bigger and better than ever.
More than 280 cowboys and cowgirls competed in the two-night event Friday and Saturday at the Barnhill Arena in Baker. Participants were competing for close to $31,000 in prize money.
Photo gallery >>> Action from the Old Spanish Trail Rodeo on Saturday.
Trish Lynn and the All-American Cowgirl Chicks — who sang and showed off their trick riding skills — joined other cowboys and cowgirls for the fun.
Baker Area Recreation Association president Mark Todd said 2,200 fans attended Friday's event and close to 2,500 were at Saturday’s event.
This year's rodeo was the first with the Professional Cowboys Association and stock contractor the 5T Rodeo Company. Former Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association All-Around and Tie-Down Roper World Champion, Herbert Theriot, operates the 5T Rodeo Company.
Todd was more than pleased with the work of the PCA, Theriot and the 5T Rodeo Company.
"Not only were they prompt, but the stock has been uniform, and the stock has been of a level that the riders can work with it and yet still give them a challenge,” he said.
"That's important because you don't want to bring something out here that's so rank (mean) that guys can't ride them."
Theriot, who participated in the Old Spanish Trail Rodeo several years ago, said being a stock contractor can be more difficult, mentally and emotionally, than competing.
"I'm more nervous about an event like this than I ever was competing," he said. "We want to make sure we have the best stock that gives every cowboy an equal chance. We want to have as level a playing field as possible.
Theriot said he brought about80 headsof stock, ranging from bucking bulls and broncs, for the riding events, to steers for steer wrestling and calves for calf roping.
Joe Farren, a Cottondale resident who won the saddle bronc event with a score of 75.5, was back in Baker for the first time in a couple of years.
"I had been to Baker two years ago, when it was the Lone Star Rodeo, and now it's the PCA this year," he said. "This is an outstanding arena, with the facility they have here. They have a good stock contractor in Herbert Theriot, with 5T, who brings all the good stock.
"It's a really good rodeo. They add a thousand (dollars) here and all the cowboys come to this rodeo to win money."
Longtime Old Spanish Trail announcer Jim Poole returned, as did rodeo clown Rudy Burns, who entertained fans between events.
This was the second year the rodeo honored a Hometown Hero with an American flag.
Airman 1st Class Rayna Yamamoto was honored Friday night, and Staff Sgt. Kevin Parke was recognized Saturday night.
"It's really nice that they show their support to the military because the military is a big part of the community," Parke said.
"It's a great thing to come back home and get more support than you do in other areas."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.