Ranch Rodeo: Local working group and WSF partner up to resurrect Wyoming Ranch Rodeo Finals
For 12 consecutive years, Wyoming State Fair (WSF) has hosted the Wyoming Ranch Rodeo Finals to showcase working ranch cowboys in the state and provide a venue for teams to qualify for regional and national competitions.
In 2022, WSF canceled the rodeo to the dismay of many Wyomingites because the event wasn’t bringing in adequate revenue.
However, this year, Douglas resident Waive Shepperson has taken matters into her own hands and set out to do whatever it takes to host the event this coming summer.
Shepperson, with the help of Four Three Ranch’s J.D. Williams, Triple V Rodeo Company’s Dona Vold Larsen and several other volunteers, has partnered with the WSF board and is excited to announce the Wyoming Ranch Rodeo Finals will be held during WSF on Aug. 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Resurrecting the rodeo
After hearing how disappointed many of her neighbors and friends were following the cancelation of last year’s ranch rodeo finals, Shepperson explained she felt compelled to resurrect the event.
She reached out to Williams, who supplies cattle for other ranch rodeos around the state, including the Lusk Ranch Rodeo and the ranch rodeo in Edgemont, S.D.
“He jumped on board and contacted Dona because they have worked together in the past,” she said. “In one phone call I had everything I needed to put the rodeo on, except money.”
With this, Shepperson reached out to the WSF board and was given six weeks to procure funding.
“It didn’t take anything,” she stated. “People really wanted to have the ranch rodeo back. All I had to do was mention it, and in five days I raised $9,000. A friend of mine made a call and got another $5,000, so we had the contracting budget met, with money over.”
“Waive did an outstanding job of collecting the money,” added Larsen. “There is a great interest and people really missed it. It’s heartwarming the amount of support this rodeo has, and we are excited to announce we are bringing it back in 2023.”
2023 Wyoming Ranch
According to Larsen, the 2023 Wyoming Ranch Rodeo Finals will be run by first-class Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association personnel. Quality cattle have been donated by Williams’ Four Three Ranch and the Vold family’s Triple V Rodeo Company will supply the bucking stock. The rodeo committee also hired a photographer for the event.
Shepperson explained the finals will feature 10 teams working a series of five events.
These 10 teams must qualify for the finals by winning a ranch rodeo in the state of Wyoming during the 2023 ranch rodeo season. They can then enter the finals by contacting WSF Assistant General Manager Kris Mitchell and paying an entry fee of $500, 100 percent of which is jackpotted back to participants.
“We don’t have to get too technical right now, but if a team has a couple cowboys from out of state, they are still eligible to qualify,” Shepperson said.
“If there is a team who goes to Glendo and wins, for example, and then they go to Lusk and win again, the second place team gains eligibility,” she added. “If those two teams go to Wheatland and win first and second again, the third place team will get to come, and we will continue to work on down the line.”
Entry for the finals closes at 5 p.m. on Aug. 9, and if 10 teams haven’t entered by this time, Shepperson said the rodeo committee reserves the right to invite teams.
Larsen noted a calcutta will be held the day of the rodeo starting at 5 p.m., and 100 percent of the money will be paid back to the winning bidders.
“The calcutta is meant to involve spectators and get them excited enough to come,” she stated. “We always have to take care of our spectators and sponsors, and this is a good way to do it. They may not be on a team or have someone on a team, but if they buy a team, they get to be part of the rodeo. It makes it a lot of fun.”
Additionally, the rodeo will be sanctioned with the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association Finals in Winnemucca, Nev., and a sanctioning fee of $200 will be paid for by the committee for the winning team.
Not only has this working group and WSF secured the means to host the ranch rodeo finals this year, they have also added a list of exciting prizes for participants and event winners.
“We have added $1,000 to the purse, in addition to another $1,000 split between the five events, so event winners will make another $200 for their team, on top of what they have for aggregate money,” Shepperson explained.
Larsen noted they will be handing out buckles for first place, wool vests for second place, wool saddle blankets for third place and mohair cinches for fourth place. A set of spurs will be awarded to the Top Horse, a buckle will be awarded for the Top Hand and a bronc halter will be awarded to the Top Bronc Rider.
Shepperson and Larsen noted this first year of their partnership with WSF will be a trial run to see what works and what does not so they can continue working together to host the event, which has become so popular in the state.
“We want feedback,” Shepperson said. “After this, we will sit down with WSF to see what we can both do better moving forward. If this year goes well, it will be much easier because we have things lined up. We don’t even have half of the people on board who want to participate and some of the people who are on board still want to do more.”
“We love WSF and we love Wyoming – it’s the Cowboy State – which is why we wanted to get our ranch cowboys back in the arena,” she continued.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.