The 11th Annual WSF Ranch Rodeo went off without a hitch Saturday evening, sparking an exciting – if unofficial – start to the State Fair, which began Tuesday despite a weekend full of fun events leading up to it.
The rodeo was held at the Ford Grandstands Arena and drew upwards of 100 “socially distanced” spectators cheering on the nine teams of cowboys who competed in six events.
The announcers regularly reminded those who attended to do their best to socially distance, but according to Stock Contractor/Rodeo Producer Dona Vold Larsen, the idea was to finally focus on something other than COVID-19.
“I think people were social distancing on their own effectively, but we didn’t focus on COVID, everyone was trying to get away from it.
“We were extremely pleased with the event. The caliber of cowboys we had was extraordinary. I think it might be one of the best we ever had.”
Each event was tightly contested, with just a few seconds being the difference between winning and losing an event.
Of the five different competitions only the Four Three & FX Bar team won more than one event, winning two by very tight margins.
The team consisted of Boe Kottwitz, Wyatt Vaneaton, Clayton Williams, Dave Burton and bronc rider Chris Laucomer.
The team went into the final two events with no first place finishes, but turned in an amazing 23.75 seconds in the team doctoring.
Laucomer than turned in a display of bronc riding good enough for a score of 77, just one point higher than JW Thrush of the Lodgepole Cattle Company, and two higher than Brandon Moody from Renegade Ranch.
Unfortunately for Four Three & FX Bar, those two wins were not enough for the team to overcome the defending champ Renegade Ranch team for the championship spot.
Nolan Brott, Chance Lane, Ty Thompson and Brandon Moody worked together and earned their championship jackets by being the most consistent team.
They were top-three in four of five of the events, coming in first in the wild cow milking at 38.72 seconds, second in team doctoring at 27.20 seconds, third in team branding at 1:07.51 and third in ranch bronc riding with a score of 75.
It was a nice way to cap off a long three days of rodeo for the team.
“We had a good day all around,” Brott said. “We were in Torrington on Thursday and Nebraska on Friday. It’s good to just get out and ride.”
In a typical year, Renegade and Four Three would qualify for the Northern International Livestock Expo (NILE) Stock Show and Rodeo in Billings, Montana, but that event was cancelled due to COVID-19. Renegade Ranch came in second at NILE last year.
While the ranch bronc riding competition got people on their feet, the mutton busting event may have produced the most animated reactions from the crowd, as fans watched in suspense to see how long the riders could stay on their sheep.
Trayden Taylor expertly rode his sheep for what seemed like an eternity before he finally slid off the wool of the sheep and tumbled through the dirt.
The judges awarded his performance with a score of 90, good enough for the victory and the new record at the Wyoming State Fair, according to announcer Garret Yerigan.
Rounding out the top three for the event were Madison Brandon with 80 points and Tatum Taylor with 62.