By Ann Bleiker
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. - The WPRA is pleased to announce their contract award winners that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make it all happen and keeps the Association alive and well. Each winner will be officially recognized during the annual WPRA Star Celebration on Thursday, Dec. 5 at the Grand Ballroom of the South Point Hotel and Casino.
Honored this year with the WPRA Announcer of the Year award is longtime PRCA member Doug Mathis. Mathis has become a top rodeo announcer with his biggest assignment being the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. He has also announced the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (2005), circuit finals in the Wilderness, Mountain States and Prairie Circuit, calls the action at the New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo (Albuquerque), the Kit Carson County Pro Rodeo in Burlington, Colorado and the Central Wyoming Fair & PRCA Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming. In addition to his announcing duties, he has worked in the NFR media room for over 20 years making sure the round winners get to the TV interviews each night as well as help facilitate any media contestant interview requests.
Fans never see them but they are key to a successful rodeo. They are known as rodeo secretaries and are tasked with organizing and disseminating information to contestants, judges, stock contractors, announcers, committees and media. This year’s WPRA Mildred Farris Secretary of the Year is Rowena Nelson, hailing from the Badlands Circuit. Nelson grew up around rodeo as her family raised bucking horses. She began working rodeos when her boss at the vet clinic suggested she secretary the Cody (Wyo.) Night Rodeo. Now 30 years later she works several rodeos throughout the year and has served as secretary or assistant for at least 10 circuit finals rodeo.
“The devil is in the details,” Nelson told the Tri-State Livestock News earlier this year. There’s no room for errors but if they occur the secretary is the first to fix them. “Mistakes happen, and people catch them, and we fix them.”
As important as secretaries so are Judges at each and every sanctioned event. The Judges are there to enforce the rules and make sure the rulebook is followed. This year’s Judge of the Year is Harry Rose. Rose has been selected again to work this year’s Wrangler NFR marking his 26th year.
One of professional rodeo’s longest partners, Wrangler, will be honored with the WPRA Partner of the Year award. Wrangler and the Wrangler Network stepped up in 2019 to provide an additional opportunity for WPRA barrel racers and breakaway ropers with the newly created Wrangler Network Tour adding close to $50,000 in bonus money. In addition to being the Partner of the Year, Jeff Chadwick, Director –Western Special Events for Wrangler, will be honored with the NFR Achievement Award.
Rodeo photographer James Phifer will receive the WPRA Media Year for 2019. Phifer not only shoots several PRCA/WPRA rodeos throughout the year but he is the official photographer of the WPRA World Finals and the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA). In fact, he has shot the WPRA World Finals a total of 10 times and like Mathis, he also works the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
There is no doubt that rodeo would have a hard time existing without hardworking rodeo committees. The WPRA honors rodeos in each circuit with the Justin Best Footing Awards that will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 30, but they also recognize rodeos in the large, medium and small rodeo category. The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the Dodge City (Kansas) Round-Up tied for the large rodeo of the year in the WPRA for 2019. There was also a tie in the medium rodeo category going to the Range Days Rodeo in Rapid City, S.D., and the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo in Stephenville, Texas. Winning for the first time in the small rodeo category is the Jesse Andrus & Mike Hillman Memorial in Roswell, N.M.
The WPRA would like to congratulate each of the award recipients as well as those that were nominated for these prestigious awards.
Below is a full list of those that will be receiving awards at the 2019 WPRA Star Celebration.
Announcer of the Year
Stock Contractor of the Year
Frontier Rodeo Company
Judge of the Year
Mildred Farris Secretary of the Year
Small Rodeo of the Year (added money of $5,000 or less)
Jesse Andrus & Mike Hillman Memorial (Roswell, N.M.)
Medium Rodeo of the Year (added money of $5,001 - $9,999)
(tie) Range Days Rodeo (Rapid City, S.D.) &
Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo (Stephenville, Texas)
Large Rodeo of the Year (added money over $10,000)
(tie) Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo (Colorado Springs, Colorado) &
Dodge City Roundup Rodeo (Dodge City, Kansas)
James Phifer – Rodeobum.com
Corporate Parnter of the Year
Outstanding Individuals of the Year
John & Candice Teagarden
Outstanding Rodeo Committee Partner
Fallon County Fair & Rodeo (Baker, Montana)
Lifetime Family Heritage Award
Beutler and Son Rodeo Company
NFR Achievement Award
Outstanding Service & Dedication Award
Codi Anne Judkins
Innovative Rodeo of the Year
Minot Y’s Men Indoor Rodeo – Badlands Circuit Finals (Minot, N.D.)
War Bonnet Round Up – Idaho’s Oldest Rodeo (Idaho Falls, Idaho)
Lifetime Service & Dedication - Judge