WEST VALLEY CITY — Lois Harmon, grand matriarch of the rodeo, described this edition of the Days of '47 Rodeo as "wonderful."
Brad Harmon agreed with his mother, saying this year's rodeo has been "outstanding." He said there was confusion last year and it was a tough year but the excitement and overall attendance has bounced back.
"I decided that each night should have a theme," said Harmon, "and that has turned out successful." He added, "It has lived up to its reputation of the best rodeo in the state."
Shanny Pilcher, a rodeo marketing spokesperson, said the $5 ticket has made a difference in bringing back the attendance. She said that was also Harmon's idea.
Kudos must be given to the medical staff at the rodeo. Anthony Hopkins is a certified athletic trainer who heads up the medical center. He said there were a couple of serious injuries this year that they weren't used to and had to call in the EMTs.
"But we handled the usual bumps and bruises," Hopkins said.
Dr. Mark Stowers volunteered for his second rodeo. He reported that two cowboys had to be transported to the hospital and one is due to be released shortly. The other has been assigned a room and no further information is available.
The week's activities culminated on Saturday night, when payouts were awarded to the best contestants. In the bull riding event, the bulls really won. Only one individual, Stormy Wing of Dalhart, Texas, could stay on his bull, and he didn't score enough points to figure into the money. For the week, Tyler Willis of Wheatland, Wyo., reaped the biggest payday in the most popular event. He took home $4,845 for his work on a bull named Tombstone.
Cody Wright of Milford took home top honors in the saddle bronc riding, earning a check of $3,998. In the bareback riding event, Grantsville's Ethan McNeill was given three chances due to various mishaps, and he earned second place for the evening but only a four-way tie for sixth place in the overall standings, which brought him a check for $416.
However, Wright and McNeill were the only cowboys from the state who earned any money in the three popular bucking events.
Craig James Smith of West Haven took home $550 in steer wrestling, and Sierra Dawn Thomas of Roy won $579 in barrel racing as the only other Utahns to figure in the money awards.
OTHER OVERALL EVENT WINNERS: Bareback riding: Tom McFarland, Wickenburg, Ariz., $4,161; Team roping: Ty Blasingame, Ramah, Colo. and Cody Hintz, Spring Creek, Nev., $1646; Tie-down roping: Monty Lewis, Hereford, Texas, $1893; Steer wrestling, Shawn Greenfield, Lakeview, Ore., $1948; Barrel racing: Sue Smith, Blackfoot, Idaho, $3,568.