GERRY - For nearly seven decades, cowboys from around the country have been thrilling audiences at Rodeo City.
The 68th annual PRCA Rodeo in Gerry will kick off Wednesday and run through Saturday. The event, which is the longest-running PRCA rodeo east of the Mississippi River, was given its start in 1945 when a cowboy named Jack Cox suggested that Gerry should hold a rodeo as a way to raise money for the newly formed Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. This year will be no different, with the event serving as a fundraiser and having plenty of excitement lined up to draw crowds from all over.
The rodeo still consists of the same events as it did 68 years ago when the first event was held: bareback bronc riding, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, team roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing. More than 150 cowboys and cowgirls will be competing this year for $35,000 in prize money that will be up for grabs. There are also specialty acts including a professional rodeo clown, animal trainer Mike "Scooter" Smith and a kids rodeo that will take place on Saturday.
The 68th annual PRCA Rodeo in Gerry will include the same events it did when it was first held: bareback bronc riding, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, team roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing. The rodeo will begin Wednesday.
The kids rodeo, which will take place at 4 p.m., with registration at 3 p.m., is open to any children between the ages of 3 and 8. The first 50 registrants will get a free T-shirt and free admission to the Saturday night show. Events will include hula hoop roping, stick horse bull riding, a boot 'n shoe race and stick horse barrel racing. After the kids rodeo, each participant will receive a certificate and a bandanna, with a belt buckle being presented to the best dressed cowgirl and best dressed cowboy.
The rodeo will be welcoming Greg Simas as the announcer for the event this week. Simas, who began his rodeo career in the Military Rodeo Cowboys Association, got his start in announcing by chance when the scheduled announcer failed to show up at an event. He was asked to fill in and quickly became one of the top announcers on the pro rodeo circuit. This year will also see one of the nation's top trick riders, Gena Cox, coming to the rodeo to perform her horseback acrobatics. Cox, who began developing her trick riding skills at a young age, is also a previous National Reserve Champion on the Women's Pro Rodeo Circuit.
The rodeo is a general-admission event. Adult admission is $12; tickets for children ages 3 to 12 are $6; children less than 3 years old are admitted free; and seniors are offered a discounted price of $10. Family packs, which include two adult tickets and three child tickets, will also be available for $35. Pre-sale tickets will be sold at a 10 percent discount, and credit cards are accepted. The Gerry Rodeo also offers combination show and dinner tickets, which will be sold for $20 for adults and $10 for children. Wednesday night only, children will be admitted for $4 at the door. Camping is available, but there are no water or electricity hook ups. There is also a limited amount of handicap parking available at Rodeo City.
For more information about the event, pricing and history, visit gerryrodeo.org. For questions, or to order pre-sale tickets, call 888-985-4847.