Putting On A Show

70th Annual Clifton Rodeo exceeds expectations with its return from pandemic shutdown, restoring small town cowboy tradition

CLIFTON — With cowboys and cowgirls of all ages and sizes offering thrills and spills, the 70th Annual Clifton Rodeo in the Clifton Rodeo Arena on the Clifton Fair Grounds gave the more than 1,200 rodeo fans in attendance their money’s worth during the two-day event.

Featuring the Silver Spurs Drill Team from Gatesville, Mutton Bustin’, Tie-Down Roping, Breakaway Roping, Team Roping, the FFA and 4-H Calf Scramble, Barrel Racing, Mini Bull Riding and of course the showcase Bull Riding event, it proved to be time to cowboy up for the first time in two years — either as spectator or as participant —June 11-12 in Bosque County.

With the Clifton Chamber of Commerce under contract with the Clifton Horse Show Association to produce the rodeo over the next five years, the much-enjoyed and long-anticipated event returned to its roots by running in conjunction with the Central Texas Youth Fair with rodeo stock provided by Thunder River Rodeo Company under the direction of producer Billy Hamilton with the familiar voice of PRCA announcer Zane Parker from Stephenville providing the call.

"I think it was fantastic," Clifton Chamber of Commerce President Paige Key said.  "We were so excited to take it on, and can’t wait till next year’s rodeo. It worked out great to move the rodeo back to run in conjunction with the youth fair. I think it increased the attendance overall. I think people were wanting to get out and do stuff since the pandemic is getting over. We had over 1,200 people attend this year, and we hope more will attend next year."

Culminating the two-day event with what many consider "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports," Eric Harringer stole the show by delivering the epitome of rodeo excitement with his first place bull ride Saturday night. With the angry bull doing everything in its power to toss him off, Harringer became the only cowboy to stay on top of his bull for eight seconds during the two-day event to score 92 points and take home the $1,000 first place prize.

Otherwise, the bulls proved to be the winners both nights with Clifton's Jackson Kettler walking away unharmed from the most dramatic and harrowing spill of the rodeo.

In Tie Down Roping, Robert Mathis claimed first place with a time of 9.99 second for $740 in prize money, Todd Parks took second in 10.46 for $555, Rob Cooper placed third in 10.79 for $370, and Karson Kolacek finished fourth in 10.94 for $185.

Tiedown contestants included Conner Matheson, Frank Holiday, James Tennyson, Jason Martin, Sam Merritt, Holt Brockenbush, Ross Hinds, Jody Reat, Clint McCafferty and Corbin Reat Friday night, followed by Matthew McMurry, Bobby Akins, Ty Phillips and Wyatt Shoaf Saturday.

In Breakaway Roping, Makenzie Dowell claimed first place with a time of 3.312 seconds for $656 in prize money, Leah Blanton took second in 4.450 for $492, Abby Slagle placed third in 4.840 for $328, and Jesse Budd finished fourth in 5.704 for $164.

Breakaway Roping contestants included Elizabeth Frost, Skyler Lightfoot, Brooke Jordan, Alison Hoyle, Brighton Bauman and Jordyn Koonsman Friday night, followed by Kinly Urbanosky, Brooke Dunlap, Kassidy Albright, Macy Akins, Grace Jenkins and Grace Shepherd Saturday.

In Open Team Roping, Jimmy Edens and Tyler Anderson claimed first place in 6.62 seconds for $856 in prize money, Ty Miller and Cory Miller took second in 7.60 for $642, Calder Lightfoot and John Terrell placed third in 7.99 for $428, while Clayton Downing and Colton Dowell finished fourth in 10.16 for $214.

Open Team Roping contestants included John and James Terrell, Luis Mendoza and Alonzo Barraza, Ricky Perales and Leah Blanton, Kinsly and Corbin Urbanosky, Staton and Cecil Mosley, Calder Lightfoot and John Terrell Friday night, followed by Enoch Crow and Derrick Simmons, Cade Bray and Riley Williams, Kevin Greenwood and Weston Gloff, as well as Jason Grimm and Larry Gonzales Saturday.

In Barrel Racing, Jenna Stafford claimed first place in 14.507 seconds for $800 in prize money, Jordyn Koonsman took second in 14.789 for $600, Lynn Hinds placed third in 14.960 for $400, and Merritt Potter finished fourth in 14.973 for $200.

Barrel Racing entries included Kristin Tillman, Morgan Day, Sherry Suggs, Cheyenne Gregory, Melissa Woods, Mattison Hargrove and Elizabeth Frost Friday night as well as Slack contestants Karen Wyatt and Skyler Lightfoot, followed by Nicole Ramburger, Kelli Ann McPherson, Christie Anz, Bella Cloutier, Hannah Jermstead, Sydney Harris, Ashley Sanders, Grace Jenkins and Raley Downing Saturday.

The spotlight turned to the kids in Mutton Bustin', where Cora Beth Nowlain scored 90 points to win Friday night, while Regan King captured first place Saturday night.

In County Team Roping, Hunter Thompson and Tyler Wallace captured first place with a time of 15.325.

County Team Roping contestants included Brianna McClain and Trey Sharp, Brent and Bobby McClain, Luis Mendoza and Sydney Harris, Ricky Perales and Leah Blanton, and Enoch Crowe and Derrick Simmons Friday night, followed by Trace and Tyler Anderson, Bobby Watson and Brian Anderson, Kevin Greenwood and Weston Gloff, as well as Chad Johnson and Mike Freedman Saturday.

With the history of the Clifton Rodeo dating back to 1931, the collaboration between the Clifton Horse Show Association and the Clifton Chamber of Commerce proved to be an instant success.

"It takes a lot of effort from a lot of people to put on a rodeo and make it successful," said Drew Leigh of the Clifton Horse Show Association. "The Chamber of Commerce seemed like the natural transition to carry on the tradition of rodeo in Clifton. I helped them with the logistics of putting on a rodeo, and I think we put on a good one that hopefully our community can be proud of. We're going to be looking forward to 2022, and work toward making it bigger and better."

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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