What could be more fun than watching a half-ton bull come charging out of a pen with a lone cowboy on top, holding on for dear life and hopefully eight seconds?
That is exactly what crowds at the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s Labor Day events saw.
"The cowboys love to come here," said Bob Dean, chairman of the Williams Rodeo Committee. "It’s like everybody’s home town on Labor Day."The Wild Women of the West were the only entry in Saturday's non-moterized Labor Day Parade to win in two categories — Most Original and Best Mounted Unit.
Plus, the weekend is full of events, said Dean. The four days of rodeo included barrel racing, calf and team roping, steer wrestling, bronc riding and bull riding.
This year Las Vaqueras De Tucson Drill Team also performed at the rodeo.
"I think it’s a great act," Dean said. "I think the crowd loved it."
The team performed a number of intricately maneuvered drills on horseback at heart pumping speeds. Dean said he hopes the team will return next year.
Another added aspect of this year’s rodeo was the covered stands at the Williams — Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds. They kept some 2,500 people cool during the events.
The increased money contestants received was also an incentive, said Peggy Dean, member of the rodeo committee.
"We have more (cowboys) this year," she said about the 255 participants.
This year each event was worth $1,100 and the team roping was worth $2,200. A total of $23,802 in prize money was given away.
"Many former world champions were here as well as cowboys making a run for the National Finals Rodeo this December," Dean said.
Peggy said the participants are from all over.
"Most are from the Turquoise Circuit," she said. "We also have them from Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Texas and California."
Flagstaff resident, Mike Sweeter, said he’s participated in quite a few rodeos in Williams this summer.
"I’ve been bareback riding for the Wild West Rodeos," he said. "I’ve been saddle bronc riding here. The Labor Day rodeo is a good rodeo."
Sweeter’s partner, Enoch Yarbrough, from Chino Valley, said the two have attended an average of three to four rodeos each week all year long.
"This is my first year here (at the Labor Day rodeo)," he said. "I’m here because it’s close to home, and it’s a circuit rodeo."
The high quality rodeo is a big draw to Williams, said Ken Edes, mayor.
"Every year this gets a better and better reputation," he said. "It’s become one of the finest rodeos in the country.
"We’ve received the best footing award (from Justin Boots) for three years."
The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association in the Turquoise Circuit votes on the award.
The town also benefits from the Labor Day events, said Edes, who attends the rodeo every year.
"I love to watch the bull riding and I love the rodeo clown," he said. "Participants get a lot more than the rodeo — there are events throughout town."
The events started Friday when the WPRA held their competition here. Saturday started with a non-motorized parade through downtown. The grand marshal was Senator John Wettaw and the honorary grand marshal was longtime Williams resident Cecil Wells. Saturday night two live bands played in town. At the World Famous Sultana, the Reeves Bunch played, and Latigo performed at the rodeo barn.
One event that brought the kids to their feet was the calf scramble. Kids aged 6-10 were released to chase a calf with a ribbon tied to it’s tail. The object was to grab the ribbon and win $5. At least 50 kids each day tried for the ribbon.
Dean said people who don’t attend the rodeo are losing out on a good time.
"They don’t know what they are missing," he said.
All-around cowboy — Ryan Tatsch, from Avondale, Colo.
Bareback — Cody Lee, from Tucson, took first with a high score of 81. Matt Buckner, from Lubbock, Texas, took second. Third and fourth places were split between Larry Bollinger, from Peoria, and David Browder, from Tucumcari, N.M.
Steer wrestling — Chuck Murphy, from Crownpoint, N.M., took first with a time of 4.4 seconds. Jason Keith, from Maricopa, took second. Third was Jesse Pettigrew, from Casa Grande and fourth was Chuck Rex from Tucson.
Calf roping — Josh Jennings, from Mt. Carmel, Utah, took first with the time of 10.5 seconds. Second place was Ed Holyan, from Casa Grande. Third was Rick Kieckhefer, from Prescott and fourth place went to Joe Parsons from Marana.
Saddle bronc riding — Steve Dollarhide,from Wikieup who is in ninth place in the World Standings, took first. Second was Steve Wilson, from Duchesne, Utah. Third was Justen Washburn from Corona, N.M. and fourth was Fletcher Tigner, from Magdalena, N.M.
Team roping — Paul Mullins, from Chatsworth, Calif., and many time National Finals Qualifier Dennis Watkins, from Bakersfield, Calif., took first with a time of 6.4 seconds. Shawn Gant and Shad Chadwick, both of Phoenix, took second. Third was Kiley Reidhead, from Holbrook, and Rick Stock, from Taylor. The fourth place team was Jerold and Leo Camarillo, from Oakdale, Calif., both of whom are National Finals Rodeo qualifiers.
Bullriding — Nate Wold, from Oracle, took first. Second place was Andy Payne, from Fountain Green, Utah. Third place was Kelby Jaques, from Wallsburg, Utah and fourth place was split between Josh Lozinsky, from Tucson, and Jack Blaylock, from Payson.
Barrel racing — Dolli Lautaret, from Kingman, took first with a time of 17.67. Lautaret is sitting 29th in the World Standings at this time. Second place was Shei Sinor-Estrada, from Reserve, N.M. Third place was Susie Campbell, from Cortaro, and fourth was Marie Autrey, from Mountainair, N.M. Coleen Dolan, from Prescott, took fifth.