GERRY - The Gerry Volunteer Fire Department closed the gates on its 73rd annual professional rodeo with a number of memorable highlights for the four performances.
The more than 250 cowboys and cowgirls from 34 states and the $78,000 in prize money were both new records for this event. Among the competitors were several who are ranked nationally. $40,000 of the prize money comes from the Gerry Fire Department and its rodeo sponsors, with the remainder coming from the entry fees paid by each entrant into the seven traditional rodeo events. Those fees range from $80 for the bareback and saddle bronc riders to $225 per man in the team roping competition.
Another first was the win in the bareback bronc event by eighteen-year-old Daylon Swearingen, a rookie who just turned pro just three weeks ago following his competing in the National High School Rodeo championships. He is the youngest to ever win this title in Gerry. In addition, he competed in the bull riding, finishing third, taking home more than $3200 in winnings.
The fans on Thursday and Saturday nights the fans were awed during the opening ceremonies by the appearance of the largest American flag ever in the arena, a 60 x 30 Stars and Stripes, held aloft by 26 members of the United States military. Members of all branches of the military were asked to stand and received an extended ovation.
Saturday night the arena was bathed in pink as a symbol of the fight against breast cancer with both fans and contestants wearing pink. Announcer Greg Simas asked for any fans who had fought this disease to stand, followed by those who had a family member or friend who has been affected by it. The result was that more than half of the fans were standing as pink balloons were released in memory of those who had lost their fight. With the help of Dave Warren Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealership $3200 was raised to help with cancer research.
Another possible record was set on Saturday as head chef Bruce Gustafson and Paula Gustafson, dining hall coordinator, and their crew of volunteers served 997 barbecue beef dinners. The total meals served for the week was almost 3000.
Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell says he was pleased with this year’s event in spite of the storms on Friday evening and that he is looking forward to soon beginning plans for next year’s rodeo. All proceeds benefit the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department.
The All-around Cowboy award went to D.J. Smith, Hillsboro, Texas. This award goes to the cowboy who wins the most money while competing in at least two events. His winnings totaled $5363 in the tie-down roping and the team roping. In addition to the cash, the winner of each event received a pair of Montana Silversmith spurs donated by the fire department.
The results of the outstanding rodeo competition are as follows with only the top three in each event being listed;
Daylon Swearingen, Piffard, N.Y. $1974
Tyler Waltz, Martin, Tenn. $1316
Jess Pope, Otley, Iowa $1316
Saddle Bronc Riding
Ray Hostetler, Piffard, NY. $1823
Clovis Crane, Lebanon, Penna. $1381
Joey Sonnier III, New Iberia, La. $994
Levi Berends, Maynard, Minn. $2235
Eli Vastbinder, Athens, Tex. $1713
Daylon Swearingen, Pifford, N.Y. $1266
Cody Mesker, Taylorsville, Ill. $1798
Donnie Endres, Elkville, Ill. $1798
Jesse McPike, Bedford, Ind. $1422
D.J. Smith, Hillsboro, Tex. $1466
Bradley Hays, Wellington, Fla. $1466
Hadley DeShazo, Ash Flat, Ark. $837
Casey Hilley, Winber, Ga. $2500
D.J. Smith, Hillsboro, Tex. $2500
Micah Eveland, Backus, Minn. $2237
Lucas Falconer, Backus, Minn. $2237
Ryan Von Ahn, Palmyra, Mo. $1974
Derrick Peterson, Louisburg, Kan. $1974
Jodi Colton, Manchester, Ind. $2070
Robin Weaver, Mahaffey, Penna. $1774
Christina Mulford, Franklinville, N.J. $1380