GERRY - The 69th annual PRCA rodeo sponsored by the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department concluded on Saturday night with what department officials are terming "a very successful event" as a record number of contestants traveled from 26 states to compete for more than $48,000 in prize money.
Approximately 7,000 fans came through the gates during the five performances to cheer on the competition, which included some of the nation's best rodeo cowboys and cowgirls.
The All-around Cowboy Award goes to the cowboy who wins the most money while competing in at least two events. This year's winner was Justin Thigpen from Waycross, Ga., who won the tie-down roping event and placed third in the steer wrestling to take home a total of $2,402.14 and a Montana Silversmith crafted belt buckle awarded by the fire department.
Jacobs Crawley, left, from Stephenville, Texas, receives his Montana Silversmith belt buckle from rodeo chairman Tom Atwell for winning almost $3,000 in the saddle bronc event.
Thigpen won more than 50 buckles and 11 saddles while competing in high school rodeos and is now ranked fourth in the nation in the all-around standings.
Jacobs Crawley from Stephenville, Texas, took home the most money, earning a check for $2,986.17 with his first place in the saddle bronc competition. However, he was not eligible for the all-around title as this was his only event.
He is a former national collegiate champion and has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas the past two years.
The prize money comes from sponsors, the fire department and entry fees paid by the competitors. These entry fees range from $70 to $150 depending on the event. The odd figures in award money are the result of a 5 percent fee from the winnings deducted by the PRCA headquarters.
The top three money winners in each of the seven events were:
1. Kyle Brennecke, Grain Valley, Mo.$2,194.50
2. Josh Cragar, Columbia, Tenn.$1,682.45
3. Tim O'Connell, Zwingle, Iowa$1,243.55
Saddle Bronc Riding
1. Jacobs Crawley, Stephenville, Texas$2,986.17
2. Cody Martin, Eagle, Col.$1,428.16
3. Keith Brauer Jr., Freeburg, Ill.$649.17
1. Chad Stoltzfus, Rising Sun, Md.$1,795.50
2. Mike Cliver II, Westfield, Pa.$1,396.50
3. Justin Thigpen, Waycross, Ga.$798.00
1. Justin Thigpen, Waycross, Ga. $2,003.14
2. Carmine Nastri, Ballston $1,418.90
3. Rob McPhail, Swartz Creek, Mich. $834.65
1. Darren Morgan, Fort Edward $2,442.86
Shawn Quinn, Schuylerville
2. Rob Toth, Wolcott, Conn. $1,282.52
Fred Brunelle, Schuylerville
3. Carmine Nastri, Ballston $610.73
J.R. Meyers, Felton, Pa.
1. John Jacobs, Timber Lake, S.D.$2,752.67
2. Jacob Marcell, Schriever, La.$1,085.90
3. Mike Adams, West Grove, Pa.$707.10
1. Kassie Hohenstein, Shakopee, Minn. $1,240.89
2. Nicole Yest, Mt. Morris, Pa. $1,063.62
3. Incarnata Reo, Waterford$886.35