Beyond the event itself, there is a vendor show and a unique craft show that has been curated for the last three years by silversmith and wonder-woman, Nevada Watt. The Fusion Show and Sale has been a huge cultural addition to an already culture laden event (see Crafted by Hand & Heart). Subtitled “Creativity within Constraints,” the Fusion show is presented with a specific set of subject parameters—2017’s show was all about hats and hat adornments. Part of the sales dollars goes into the pot for the winning teams.
Everything about the Pro-Am is designed to support the teams, as many have saved all year and traveled great distances to be there. The Pro-Am is a non-profit event. All money from entries and sponsors goes to hosting the roping and paying out to the winners. For four days, 150 teams and their families, plus vendors and spectators descend on the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association center. They not only participate but become part of a unique community. And that sense of community continues after the event in the hearts of those who come. That is exactly the point of the event.
In creating the atmosphere he wanted for the event, Buck designed a unique arena set-up for the roping pens.
“We wanted to be true to the mission of having as many spectators as possible see what it’s all about up close and not separated from the competitors,” Buck explains. “We set up two pens divided by the judges stand so we could have both pens going at the same time—with two judges—each one watching a pen. This was set inside the big arena, which allowed spectators to come right up to each roper while they waited their go and chat with them, or ask questions about their horse or gear. It was very important that the culture be accessible. And it has worked really well. The spectators and the ropers seem to really enjoy it.”
With the success of the Pro-Am, folks ask all the time, “So are you going to make it bigger?” The short answer is no. The Pro-Am started with 100 teams and has evolved at the same location to welcome about 150 teams. That’s about what both the facility and people who put it on can handle. The desire is simply to make it better through increased sponsorship and increased the payouts. But the real win, hopefully, is that the culture and the traditions that the Pro-Am celebrates can continue to thrive within the horse and cattle communities. In addition, the Pro-Am puts a spotlight on the kind of stock handling and stewardship that goes on in today’s ranching community for all to see. The strength of the event and its ability to communicate rests with the superb people who come to rope or simply support the event’s idea. It’s the people who make the difference and it’s why we come back every year to put it on.
For more information about the Brannaman Pro-Am vaquero Roping and to see the list of this year’s winning teams and sponsors—including Western Horseman—visit the ProAm Roping Facebook page – www.facebook.com/brannamanproamroping