Next week is a great week to be a cowboy, or cowgirl, in Chautauqua County.
From July 31 to Aug. 3, Gerry transforms into Rodeo City, U.S.A., all to raise money for the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. The annual rodeo brings noted PRCA professionals to participate in one of the longest consecutively running rodeos east of the Mississippi River.
It's a far cry from the rodeo's humble beginnings in 1945, when Jack Cox, a former working cowboy, moved to Gerry and suggested a rodeo as a fundraiser for the newly formed Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. In 70 days, department volunteers turned four acres of swamp into an arena with rented lights and borrowed bleachers. Now, the rodeo features an arena that seats 4,000 people, open air barbecue pits and an air-conditioned dining facility. In addition to competition inside the arena, the rodeo features its beef barbecue dinners, featuring beef cooked outdoors over open fires and served with the secret recipe sauce and a lighted midway features concession stands along with more than 20 vendors offering everything from fried dough to Western wear.
The 69th annual rodeo begins Wednesday, July 31, with an 8 p.m. performance at the Gerry Rodeo Grounds on Route 60. Performances continue at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday with a 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. show on Saturday. For more information on ticket prices and special events, visit www.gerryrodeo.org.
Those looking for something to do this week should take a trip to Gerry. The rodeo provides plenty of action and benefits a worthy cause.