When it was all over, very few people knew who won what, and even fewer cared. Everybody had fun.
If fun is the name of the game, then contestants and spectators alike got plenty of it in Colorado Springs’ first Celebrity Team Roping and Cutting. The event tail-gated the Little Britches National Finals in Penrose Stadium, and was put together with a lot of work and minimal time by Jenice Miller and a herd of local volunteers.
Jenice is the executive producer of the American Junior Rodeo Association National Finals for the live telecast, and she is currently working with Little Britches Rodeo to televise their 1988 National Finals. Jenice worked with America West Airlines, the Clarion Hotel, the County Line Barbecue, Wild Bill’s Boot Shop, and a host of others to make this celebrity event come alive.
Since this was for Little Britches Rodeo, General Manager Jim Chamley pitched in and helped as a celebrity roper; and with a real General Patton heading up the Colorado Springs Celebrity Team Roping & Cutting as president, he got things done! That’s retired Air Force General Marv Patton, not George.
Bob Norris and the T-Cross Ranches staged a practice cutting and roping out at the ranch, followed by a barbecue dinner, and furnished a lot of the cutting horses for the celebrity contestants. Gary Gist made up some “sheriff badge” silver name pins for all the celebrities, Wrangler furnished them with jackets, and Levi’s gave them each a certificate for a pair of 557 jeans. Wild Bill’s Boot Shop gave each celebrity a $100 gift certificate. And we’re proud to say that Western Horseman pitched in with a lot of late-night work to get the programs set in type, made up, and printed. And Darrell Arnold got as muddy as any of ’em, taking pictures of the whole shebang.
One recipe for fun is to mix a bunch of good-sport celebrities with a downpour of rain and a muddy arena, and an eager bunch of rodeo fans . . . and some of the photos show the results. In the team roping the celebs were teamed up with local cowboys and some Little Britches rodeo hands.
Butch Morgan is now the Spencer Penrose Stadium director, and he was busier’ n a hound dawg at a flea circus. He and I were both entered, and switched off announcing duties when the other was up in the roping or cutting. Butch is a gung-ho guy, and can make watching a tractor rust sound exciting.
It started off with a bang, and never let up. The Pikes Peak Range Rider Pivots always open up an event in a wild and wooly manner, and they did it this time. Then the celebs were introduced, and came riding out trying to miss the puddles. Singer Vic Chavez stormed out for his introduction, and his borrowed horse jumped a couple of puddles before Vic realized the horse was bucking. About four jumps later he parted company . . . but came up mud-covered and grinning. Then he opened up the event by singing the national anthem.
The team roping started out like the National Finals! Headers were popping their loops on quick, and heelers were making double-hockers . . . and the rain kept coming down. After the first three teams, the leading time was 7.9!
Admittedly, the times got slower as the mud got deeper. Each celeb got three runs, with a different partner each time. The cutting followed, and nobody backed out. The footing Was better than it looked, but it is difficult showing a cutting horse to perfection in “Lake Penrose.”
Much of the fun was above-and-beyond the call of duty. Stuntmen R.L. Tolbert and Russell Solberg volunteered to bulldog a couple of steers in the mud, even with no ‘dogging horses on hand. They did it from rope horses, with their only trophies being dirty shirts and britches. Nobody asked them to do it, they just volunteered to make it more fun.
In this same vein, the “Grand Finale Brawl’ was staged by actor Jerry Potter and Gary Campbell. Gary heads up the horse training program at T-Cross Ranches, and looks like Mr. Clean. He is spic and span, with pressed clothes and monogrammed shirts. Gary judged the cutting, and Jerry Potter (an enraged 285-pounder) objected to his low scoring. The ensuing mud-wrassle looked like a feeding frenzy in the hippopotamus pit! All staged, of course … and just to add to the fun.
The ropers roped in the mud, the cutters cut in the mud—and the crowd cheered wildly when pretty Christina Paine rode into the drenched arena dressed in her usual spectacular lacy finery after being told she didn’t have to. Christina came to participate and have fun. And she did.
When it was all over, very few people knew who won what, and even fewer cared. Everybody had fun; and there is no way to thank everyone who contributed, or participated, or helped. Those who had a part in it know it, enjoyed it, and would do it again.
This article was originally published in the November 1987 issue of Western Horseman.