Coulee City Sunday Night

Garrett Rogers and Jake Minor winning the team roping at the Coulee City Last Stand Rodeo during the Sunday night performance.

I’m glad we could once again spend Memorial Day weekend watching Coulee City’s Last Stand Rodeo. I’ve got to say thank you to rodeo announcer Will Rasmussen, as he saluted those who lost their lives protecting our freedoms. Stars and Stripes waving in the breeze, no singer was needed as the entire crowd sang the National Anthem and some locals earned some checks.

You know, with a purse less than $40,000, some might wonder if Coulee City is a priority on a cowboy’s schedule. In fact, some guys in the hunt for an NFR qualification might not even count the rodeo toward their limited rodeo count and instead go to it just to pocket a paycheck. But it’s a great rodeo and for me it kicks off the rodeo season in the Northwest. And from a cowboy’s perspective, a rodeo win is roughly a grand in your pocket. That’s a good day.

The Last Stand Rodeo was named the Columbia River Circuit’s Small Rodeo of the Year a couple of years ago, the stands are all close to the arena and for us, it’s a quick drive that’s less than two hours away. Parking is free and close to the arena. Easy access and an easy drive and you get seats up close and personal? Yessir.

You’ll even see big names there. 2016 saddle bronc champ Zeke Thurston competed on the day we attended last year, this time around it was 2009 bronc riding world champ Jesse Kruse. Sunday’s competition also had Chase Dougherty, who won more than $200,000 in bull riding earnings, on his way to the No. 2 spot in the world standings last December. You’ll see a bunch of local and well-known regional names there, too.

The tie-down roping was basically a carbon copy of the Clem Kayser Memorial Roping event earlier this month in Ellensburg: Bo Pickett won Coulee, Caleb McMillan (the Kayser champ) was third, Preston Pederson, Seth Hopper and Kass Kayser went fourth through sixth. I bet all of those guys will be in Central Point, Ore., this weekend as well. So if household regional names are your thing, Coulee City probably is one of the best rodeos of the year.

We’ve got to tip our hat to Garrett Rogers and Jake Minor who won the team roping with a 6.2-second steer. Watching Jake’s heel shot from just a few feet away was the icing on the cake. We literally had a front row seat. The duo made $1,227 for their work, but I’m sure what really made their day was the cheering from the Guddat Gang just a few feet away. Yep, I’m sure that was better than a paycheck.

I mentioned a bit ago how Coulee kicks off the summer rodeos and of course, like clockwork our drive home included conversations centered around other rodeos to put on the travel schedule. Coulee City always whets the appetite to check more off of the bucket list. Every circuit rodeo is on our list. Every one. Between work, camping, yardwork around the house there’s a few rodeos with realistic chances to host the Guddats this year. In some cases, the calendar is a bit stingy, but in other cases it’s wide open. As we whittle down the list we’ll make it known where we’re going. Jack Wallace said Joseph, Oregon’s Chief Joseph Days is a must see. I’m listening, Jack, but unfortunately it won’t be this year it gets visited.

Speaking of places to see, our junior high and high school contestants will get to see some scenery on their way to the junior high and high school finals. Rock Springs, Wyo., once again is the host to the high schoolers in mid-July and Huron, South Dakota, hosts the junior high contingent in late June. The State Finals Rodeo took place over Memorial Day weekend and while results weren’t official by press time (the short round was yesterday afternoon) I know a few of our locals will be there. Can’t wait to see those results and I can’t wait to see more rodeo this summer.

Jon Guddat covers rodeo — from the kids to the kids at heart — with a weekly rodeo column in the Daily Record. Contact Jon with story ideas at jonguddat@yahoo.com.

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