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P.O. Box 7445 Jackson, WY 83002 (307) 足733-2047 PUBLISHERS: Michael Sellett Elizabeth McCabe CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Kevin Olson PROJECT EDITOR: Thomas Dewell PHOTOGRAPHY: Photo editor: Price Chambers Contributing photographers: Kelly Glasscock Alexandria Mihale COPY EDITORS: Richard Anderson Jennifer Dorsey Mark Huffman EDITORIAL DESIGN: Kathryn Holloway WRITERS: Katy Niner, Kevin Huelsmann, Tram Whitehurst, Cory Hatch, Emma Breysse, Johanna Love, Brielle Schaeffer AD PRODUCTION MANAGER: Caryn Wooldridge ADVERTISING ARTISTS: Kara Hanson Jenny Francis Lydia Wanner ACCOUNT COORDINATOR: Heather Best ADVERTISING SALES: Karen Brennan Meredith Faulkner Amy Golightly Adam Meyer PREPRESS: Jeff Young PRESSMEN: Dave Carey Dale Fjeldsted Greg Grutzmacher Johnathan Leyva Mike Taylor Bryan Williams CIRCULATION: Gary Bourassa Pat Brodnik Kyra Griffin Hank Smith


Trina Wheeldon rounds the second barrel as she quickly turns her horse through the barrel racing course, moving into first place with a time of 17.91 seconds.

Princesses hoof it . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 There's more to being rodeo royalty than a sparkly shirt

Rodeo is fun, but it's also business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Smile at the customers when you say that, pard

How do you say "dogie" in French? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 People come from all over the world to see the cowboys

And now for something entirely different . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Pick the flag off the steer, dancing tourists and calf scrambling

Memories of the rodeo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 A portfolio of photos to remind you of your visit

Ya gotta start 'em young . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Rodeo's youngest stars are only 4, and their bulls are sheep

Making the school team ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 High school rodeo features tomorrow's stars

Changes in the rodeo calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 A few different nights, and a big season-ending championship

COVER: Tyler Friend holds on tight during a good bareback ride at the Jackson Hole Rodeo. Friend scored 66 points on the ride to the delight of the audience. The rodeo performs each Wednesday and Saturday night Throughout the summer. photo by price chambers.





Allie Kuhns, 3, center, and other Teton County Fair & Rodeo royalty contestants listen to instructions before the modeling and interview section of the pageant Friday at The Wort Hotel.


hoof it By Johanna Love


ver wonder how those girls in the sparkly shirts and sashes get their ti-

aras? They earn them during the annual Teton County Fair and Rodeo Royalty Pageant. “Royalty are the ambassadors for the sport of rodeo,” said Lee Judge, 2012 pageant organizer. “Their job is to relay information to the public.” For instance, princesses participate in the Grand Entry at the start of each rodeo, waving to the crowd and galloping around the ring. Afterward, many of them work their way through the crowd, explaining things like how each sport was developed or the rules. They answer questions, pose for photos and cheer for the competitors. During the 2012 pageant held May 4-5, the youngest participants posed on stage in Western skirts and were asked just two questions: “What’s your horse’s name?” and “What do you like to do with your horse?” One of the smallest, 3-yearold Ashlyn Rae Chamberland,

tripped over her too-big green boots, and couldn’t even speak during the interview portion of the event at The Wort Hotel, and just looked to her mother. The others whispered their answers. But when master of ceremonies Desiree Bridges asked for help with jokes, the girls in the Future Princess category, ages 2 to 7, jumped for the microphone. “Why did the cow go over the hill?” Kate Budge, 7, asked. “‘Cause he can’t go under the hill.” “Silk, silk, silk,” said Bailey Chamberland, 7. “What do cows drink?” “Milk?” Bridges guessed, before realizing she’d been tricked — cows actually drink water, something known to everyone who hasn’t had the wrong answer planted in their head with the “silk, silk” opening. Bridges told the audience that her experience as 2010 Teton County Rodeo Queen helped her poise, riding and selfesteem. “I gained so much confidence in myself.” Parents and friends of the 20 competitors filled the room at


Future rodeo princess candidate Dally Wilson, 5, smiles with most of her teeth as she awaits her turn in the Heritage Arena on Saturday morning during the Teton County Fair and Rodeo Royalty Pageant.

Rodeo royalty Future Princesses

Kate Budge, 7 Alexa “Lexi” Carr, 2 Kasey Carr, 5 Ashlyn Rae Chamberland, 3 Bailey Ann Chamberland, 7 Jordan Davis, 7 Gracie Hardeman, 7 Allie Kuhns, 3 Jackie Kuhns, 5 Katie Kuhns, 6 Harlie Lyn Walker, 7 Dally Wilson, 5

Peewee PrincessES Hailey Hardeman, 9

The Wort and the stands at the Heritage Arena the next day for the horsemanship portion. Their daughters were vying for a place in the rodeo royalty entourage.

Peewee attendant Jordan Lutz, 10

Junior PrincessES Sarah Andrews, 12 Junior attendants Dezaray Lara, 11 Kylie Wilson, 12

Senior PrincessES Claire Andrews, 14 Senior attendant Emma MacEachern, 15

Lady in Waiting Maarissa Mason, 18

After she rode a specific pattern in the arena aboard her 7-year-old mount, Connor, Lady in Waiting candidate Maarissa continued on page 6




Peewee Princess candidates Hailey Hardeman, 9, and Jordan Lutz, 10, share a light moment on horseback as they wait to enter the Heritage Arena during the Rodeo Royalty Pageant. continued from page 5

Mason, 18, dismounted in front of the judges. Her leopard-print boot got stuck in the stirrup for a couple of seconds, and Connor nuzzled his head against her during the interview, but the foibles didn’t faze her. Judge Cody Meyers asked her what one of her goals was for her competition. “Keep him calm,” Mason said. “Even if you mess up, keep smiling like you had the best pattern in the world.” Pageant organizer Judge said the judges concurred that this year’s event was one of the best competitions they’d ever judged. “They were so impressed with the knowledge the girls had,” she said. “Judges don’t give those compliments easily.”

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Rodeo is a business

of smiling faces By Emma Breysse


aking everyone happy sounds more like the moral of a children’s story than a business strategy, but the Wilson family has run the Jackson Hole Rodeo on the concept for years. “It’s our goal with everything we do,” said Phil Wilson. “We want as many people as possible to have a good time and leave remembering that they had a good time.” Wilson, his wife, his sons and now his grandchildren are both head and heart of the annual event, which Wilson said fills a unique niche in the rodeo world. The family’s “let’s all enjoy ourselves” business strategy is part of maintaining that niche, he said. More so than in many cases, the spectators in Jackson Hole are watching their first rodeo, he said. The event attracts national park tourists all summer long — in fact, the busiest day is Wednesday, because weekends tend to see most area visitors taking a turn through Grand Teton National Park. Most of them don’t come from a rodeo kind of area, and stop by for a taste of the Old West, Wilson said. “So we try to keep the people watching in mind as much as possible,” he said. “You’re going to have a lot more fun if you understand what you’re seeing.” Announcers spend some time before each event explaining what competitors will be trying to do, and Wilson said every rodeo employee is prepared to answer questions if a curious guest comes to them. Add in innovations like the covered stands, which Wilson called the “single best improve-

Seth Wilson, Josh Gilmore and Brandon Wilson work together to load a white bull named Casper after the rodeo.

ment” ever made to the rodeo arena, and with any luck spectators will go home with glowing tales of their rodeo experience. Where the Wilsons’ strategy is unique is where it expands on the theory of keeping customers satisfied. While bringing spectators in is certainly a major goal, Wilson said his philosophy of making people happy has three focuses. “We try to keep every piece of the rodeo in mind,” he said. “We want competitors to enjoy competing and we want our employees to be participating in a job that they enjoy.” People enjoying what they are doing do a better job, and a competitor who has a good time


A rodeo family, Brandon, Phil and Bode Wilson unwind after another successful show at Jackson Hole Rodeo.

wants to come back next year, he said. It takes both of those pieces to make spectators hap-

py. Happy spectators are good advertising in their home comcontinued on page 8



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Brandon Wilson waits in the trailer as others herd the horses up the ramp. continued from page 7

munities. From Wilson’s point of view, everyone wins. It may sound simple, but Wilson said it’s also effective. “Are we going to get rich out of this?” he said. “I’m going to tell you no. But for us, this is something we truly love doing, and the way we see it is we want as many people as possible to love it too.”

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s this your first rodeo? Cheers always erupt when Jackson Hole Rodeo announcer Tyler Viles opens the evening with that question. He then asks where people are from. Back East? Applause. The Midwest? Applause. Texas? California? With the states covered, he casts a wide net: “How many people are here tonight from outside the United States?” Last year, the roar in response was so loud, rodeo owner Phil Wilson estimated 25 percent of the crowd consisted of visitors from abroad. That’s about 300 to 500 people a night at the peak of the season, Wilson said. The majority of these overseas customers hail from Europe, Wilson said. France leads, and the United Kingdom is in third. Israel comes in second. Latin tourists also take to the rodeo stands: Last summer, Colombian pop star Shakira canoodled with famed Spanish footballer Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona. Such celebrity cameos at the rodeo usually go unannounced, by request, Wilson said. “We don’t bug them,” he said. “We let them enjoy themselves.” Though they blend into the stands, foreign visitors can be conspicuous at the ticket booth. The language barrier can strain and slow transactions, Wilson said. “It’s tough,” Wilson said.

“We want to be good with them, but it’s tough coordinating a conversation.” To ease the process, the Jackson Hole Rodeo has introduced online ticketing. People can now purchase tickets in their motel rooms or while planning their trip to Wyoming from their abodes abroad. Tickets purchased online can be claimed at will-call. Mirroring the crowd in the stands, the rodeo website also sees significant international traffic. From May through August, the website gets 300,000 hits a month, many from beyond the United States. With international users in mind, the rodeo plans to upgrade its web design: more pictures, fewer words, clearer graphics. Such traffic suggests rodeo transcends language and nationality as a form of universal entertainment. From his vantage point in the announcer’s stand, Viles finds that everyone who is new to rodeo — foreign and domestic alike — is most intrigued by the rough stock events: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and, of course, bull riding. On the flip side, the timed events seem to confound newcomers. People seem to have a hard time “understanding how those events came from working on a ranch and developed over time,” Viles said. “We do our best to explain to them as we go through the rodeo.”

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Judges look for broncs that are ‘trashy’ and cowboys who don’t ‘double grab.’ By Tram Whitehurst


or the rider, eight seconds on a bucking bronc or bull must feel like an eternity. For the judge, it’s barely enough time to score a ride. Judging rodeo is more art than science. As rides flash by in a blur, it often comes down to what judges can catch. “The first time you judge, you walk away feeling stupid,” said Mark Nelson, who judges Jackson Hole Rodeo when he’s not riding in it. “The more you judge, the better you get at it.” Scoring the roughstock events — bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding — is

based on a 50-point system in which both the cowboy and animal can receive up to 25 points. Combining two judges’ scores allows for a possible 100-point total; anything above 80 is considered a good ride. For all three events, it’s important that the cowboy is active on the spurs. Spurring can earn bull riders points, or it can get a bronc rider disqualified. “Marking out” requires bronc riders to have both spurs in front of and touching the bronc’s shoulders as the animal moves out of the chute. “One of the hardest things for a lot of the cowboys is to have the horse marked out,”

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Judge Buddy Nowlin times a bull ride. Nowlin gives good scores to hard-bucking, hard-riding performances.

said Buddy Nowlin, who started judging last year. Cowboys also can’t “double grab,” which is when they touch either the animal or themselves with their free hand. As for the animals, their scores come down to how active they are. “You’re looking for who’s bucking hard,” Nowlin said. “The harder they are to ride, the higher the points.” Animals that are “trashy” and that are “ducking and diving” all over draw high scores,

Nelson said. Although there are classes that teach rodeo judging, many times it’s former riders in the judge’s seat. Nelson, for example, started riding saddle bronc 30 years ago. He’s been carted off by the “meat wagon” more than he’d like, over the course of his career. But he still prefers the thrill of the ride to the challenges of judging. “Usually, I just judge when I’m hurt,” he said, “so I hope I’m not judging this year.”

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Ranchers, outfitters battle for braggin’ rights T By Kevin Huelsmann

he idea is simple: Teams of three compete to see who can chase down a steer, pull a ribbon from its tail and race back to the chutes. But the Grab-the-Bull-Bythe-Horns contest generated a lot of excitement when it was held for the first time last year. “It’s chaos,” announcer Tyler Viles said, describing the scene. “It’s all going on at once.” Last year, dude ranchers, outfitters and some rodeo staff formed teams for the competition. Each team has three assigned roles. One person is the anchor. He holds onto a rope that is attached to a steer’s horns. Another person serves as the

mugger. That person’s duty is to get hold of the steer. The third person, the runner, is supposed to snag the ribbon from the steer’s tail. Rodeo organizers put enough steers in the chutes to match the number of competing teams. Then they open the chutes and each team has to chase down a steer. “We let the steer out of the chute, it drags them around a little but they get the steer slowed down a bit, get the ribbon, then the runner runs back to the chute,” Viles said, describing how the scene typically plays out. Winners this year will get what rodeo organizers call the braggin’ rights saddle. Each week, the winning team will get

to take the saddle home. At the end of the season, the team that won the saddle the most will get to keep it. The contest is one of several that rodeo organizers have developed to keep folks entertained between events. Another popular one is the dance contest. “We ask for volunteers, but we don’t tell them what they’re doing,” Viles said of the dance competition. The volunteers are brought into the arena. They’re informed that they’re participating in a dance contest. Music turns on for roughly 30 seconds. “We stop them and I tell them they were copying each other’s moves and that for the next round we’ll have to blind-

fold them,” Viles said. There’s another round of dancing. Then, in the final round, rodeo staff start picking people out of the group. Eventually, one blindfolded person is left dancing in the arena. “We wait until it gets down to one person just dancing their heart out and announce that the whole group should take off their blindfolds,” Viles said. Rodeo staff also offer a calf scramble for kids 12 years old and younger. They have to line up, chase down three calves and remove a ribbon from their tails. While the contests are fun, Viles said the silly events are meant only to complement the rodeo, not upstage it. “First and foremost, it’s about the rodeo,” he said.

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Teton County Rodeo Queen Desiree Bridges runs the American Flag around the arena at the start of last year’s rodeo.

Brady Headrick holds on tight as Elderado throws him to the dirt at the opening of the 2011 Jackson Hole Rodeo.

Blaine Matthews, 18, gets a wild ride but no qualified time on Blackberry during the saddle bronc competition at the final Jackson Hole Rodeo of the 2011 season.





Photography by Price Chambers

Bareback rider Tyler Nelson holds on tight as Little John bucks across the arena at the Jackson Hole Rodeo. Nelson scored 71 points on the ride.

Justin Munns, left, bumps knuckles with fellow bullrider Ryan Prophet after an excellent ride on Milk Ready.

Tanner Judge, left, and Shane Scott chase down a steer at the Jackson Hole Rodeo. The team ropers hit their targets with a time of 13.95 seconds.




Kids events at rodeo introduce them to the sport.


By Brielle Schaeffer


uskin Wilson began riding sheep when he was only 4 years old. Now, at 35, he’s a professional bull rider. “I rode sheep until 6 or something like that,” he said. “Then I went to calves and horses. “We rode anything we could get on, from cows to bulls — anything that was brought in.” Youngsters today can do the same. At the Jackson Hole Rodeo, children age 7 and younger can enter to try to ride sheep in the mutton bustin’ event. The rodeo sheep the kids challenge usually have more experience than the riders. Besides being an endearing spectacle — tiny cowboys and cowgirls wearing hockey masks clutching onto sheep for as long as they can, often with their parents trailing after them — the event introduces children to the sport of rodeo. “Rodeo is a dying breed without the participation of the young kids to grow it,” Wilson said. “The Jackson area has no ranches or anything like that anymore. Kids that are riding now have never been around rodeo. ... You want to involve young kids and let them grow and learn.” Mutton busters win trophies and spur prizes, Wilson said. The riders may be young, but they quickly gain confidence. “Most of the time, when kids first start, they want their parents to be around,” Wilson said. “Once they do it a couple times, they grow out of it.” After graduating from mutton bustin’, young rodeo athletes — kids 12 to 18 years old — move on to miniature bulls. Out of the 30 small bulls the Wilsons own for the rodeo, only one remains unridden: a 6-year-old, 45-inch-tall brindle named Road Rash. He is the miniature bucking rodeo bull of the year. The longest time anybody has stayed on Road Rash is just two and a half seconds, Wilson said. That’s a far cry from the eight seconds required for a rider to win a contest. continued on page 17


Zane Schroeder warms up behind the chutes at the Jackson Hole Rodeo.



Melissa Harrison & Steve Robertson PRICE CHAMBERS / NEWS&GUIDE

Tucker Wilson, 6, helps sing the end of the Star Spangled Banner at Saturday night's opening Jackson Hole Rodeo. continued from page 16

“They haven’t rode him very long,” he said. “He bucks so hard.” Road Rash typically does not go into the draw at the Jackson Hole Rodeo unless someone wants to challenge him, Wilson said. “He’s in his prime right now,” he said. This year, the Wilsons are putting a bounty on the champion mini-bull: Every time a cowboy or cowgirl is bucked off, the cash prize for a successful ride will increase. The bounty will be “more incentive to come and try this bull out,” Wilson said.

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Niki Lynes of Jackson finished the barel racing in 22.556, at the Jackson Hole High School Rodeo.

High schoolteam keeps rodeo alive

By Cory Hatch


hen Jackson Hole High School rodeo team members Annalyssa Campbell and Tanner Judge saddle up this spring, they’ll be carrying on a proud Wyoming tradition. The two seniors head a team of seven rodeo riders from the high school. Campbell, president of the team, started barrel racing in seventh grade and competes in pole bending as well. Pole bending is an event similar to a slalom in which riders weave their horses through six poles 21 feet apart, and then back again. The fastest time wins. Campbell is keeping her fingers crossed

that she’ll win a place on the Montana State University rodeo team when she arrives next year as a freshmen. Judge competes in calf roping and team roping — he and his partner are ranked second in the state. Next year, Judge will head to Central Arizona College on a full rodeo scholarship. In the meantime, the pair will ride in two to three rodeos a week and try to encourage as many young people as possible to follow in their boot-steps. In the Jackson area, as in many parts of the country, the interest in rodeo is waning. “It’s very sad, but very noticeable,” Campbell said.

Campbell and Judge believe it’s up to them to help maintain interest in the sport. “There’s a lot of responsibility to get new kids into the rodeo world,” Judge said. “Rodeo is a fantastic sport. It’s part of our national history and our Wyoming history and it needs to be kept alive.” Judge’s mom, Lee Judge, helps organize the team. She said the decline in working ranches around Jackson Hole has hurt the team because it’s become expensive to keep horses, steers and other animals that kids need for their training. Many parents find that rodeo is simply too expensive, she said. Luckily, members of the community have continued on page 19




Trever Nelson and Tanner Judge compete in the team roping section of Jackson Hole High School Rodeo on Sept. 18, 2011. continued from page 18

stepped up to help. “The Wilson family provided property so we could keep steers there,” she said. “Jason and Trina Wheeldon, they provided the actual steers. Jason is a great roper and he spent tons of time helping kids this year. They’re definitely helping keep rodeo alive.” In the fall, Campbell and Judge help run a rodeo camp. “We take two days and go through all the events in the rodeo,” Campbell said. “Half of the second day, we put on an actual rodeo for the kids. It gets them hooked. It got me hooked.” Tanner Judge hopes he can eventually make it to the National Finals Rodeo. “After I make it there, I’d like to open up a rodeo camp to teach kids and adults how to team rope and calf rope,” he said.

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he rodeo season in Jackson will be shorter this summer, but with the same number of events as the cowboys and girls compete on nights they used to have to themselves. The addition of new nights in addition to the traditional Wednesday- and Saturdaynight rodeoing will make up for the loss of some September meetings that won’t be held this year. Cutting out the September events allows for other events during the month, said rodeo boss Phil Wilson. “The Fair Board would like

to use the arena for some different things in September and asked us to leave it open,” Wilson said. “But we have sponsors, and they like to have so many visitors a year to see their ads, and that means we have to put on a certain number of rodeos.” The first competition of the season will be Saturday, May 26, and the Saturdayand-Wednesday schedule will continue through the end of August. Monday nights, traditionally quiet at the fairground, will see rodeos on Aug. 6, Aug. 13 and Aug. 20.

Adding the Mondays should let Wilson and his three sons, now in their third year holding the rodeo contract, continue to bring in more people, Since the family took over, attendance over the course of the summer has risen from 27,000 to 47,000, Wilson said. The season will reach its high point — though not quite its end — with a revamped Labor Day Weekend championship. On Sept. 1 and 2, a Saturday and Sunday, a rodeo season finale will be held, giving all of nearly 300 competitors who take part over the summer a

last big chance to score points toward the season championships, which bring cash and gear. Holding a two-day rodeo over the weekend also gives many younger riders a chance to compete. “We’re having a double rodeo those two days for the kids in college,” Wilson said. “Most of them can’t come home for a Wednesday, but everybody likes to compete in the finals, so we’re having it that weekend.” The Jackson Hole rodeo season will have its last two nights on Sept. 5 and Sept. 8.

Jesse Burnett gets a wild ride but no score after getting bucked from this bull before the required time.

Price Chambers / NEWS&GUIDE


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