94th Gooding Pro Rodeo continues rich history
By Brett Marshall
In its time-honored and rich history, the Gooding Pro Rodeo has enjoyed a multitude of successes and recognition for having established itself as one of the premier rodeos in the western United States.
In 2018, the GPR added another feather to its award cap by being named the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association’s winner of the Remuda Award, which annually goes to the stock contracting firm and rodeo committee that provide the best, most consistent pen of bucking horses, creating the best opportunities for contestants to score well.
It marked the second straight year for the award to be presented to either the stock contracting firm, in this case Korkow Rodeos in 2017, and then in 2018, to the local Gooding Pro Rodeo committee, headed up by Don Gill.
“Gooding probably has the highest energy crowd interactive of any rodeo you will ever attend,” said Don Gill, manager of the rodeo for the past 20 years since it returned to the PRCA schedule. “Our fans are among the most informed for rodeo that you will see. We hear this quite regularly from the cowboys who compete here.”
Now in the middle of its ninth decade of providing top rodeo performances to Idaho crowds, the Gooding Pro Rodeo will celebrate its 94th anniversary from August 14 to 17, 2019, beginning with Extreme Bulls on Aug. 14, quick popular event that began in 2018. The following three nights will be the exciting PRCA rodeo, with all performances beginning at 8 p.m.
Tickets, always a hot commodity and which are limited, will not go on sale until July 14, 2019, online, and also will be available at local Valley Country Stores.
During the 2018 rodeo, Brody Yeary scored a ride of 93 points to claim the top spot in the bull riding event, equaling the highest point total of the entire PRCA season. He was atop Summit Pro Rodeo’s Mobster, earning a check of $2,764.
In addition to having many of the world-ranked cowboys competing in saddle and bareback bronc riding as well as bull riding, there will be competition in steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, and women’s barrel racing. All in all, it is an action-packed two hours of outstanding entertainment for the family and rodeo fans.
In 2019, the stock contractors who bring the horses and bulls are among the very best in the business, each having award-winning horses and bulls. The Summit Rodeo Company, along with Korkow Rodeos and the BarC5 Rodeo Company, return with their “A”team of stock.
In its formative years of the early 20th Century, the current Fairgrounds, which now has a seating capacity of 3,200, served as the Calvary and Parade Grounds for Troop A 116th Calvary, U.S. Army, built around 1923. In 1925, the first celebration was a bucking and roping contest, along with a polo match with the Calvary in 1925.
A Farmer’s Exposition was also held in 1925, featuring all the crops and produce from the south central Idaho area.
The Gooding Pro Rodeo usually attracts a large number of signs that are present in the crowd, and a tradition including “BEER Worthy” signs. In the past, fans have come dressed in costumes or have a life-sized cutout of John Wayne or Bernie from the movie Weekend at Bernie’s.
Another distinctive touch to the GPR is where a good ride might be rewarded with a good “cold one,” handed out along the side of the arena as the cowboy rides by.
Veteran rodeo announcer Steve Kenyon, who has been handling those duties at Gooding since the rodeo affiliated with the PRCA in 1998, said the rodeo was unique in so many ways.
“It has an incredible crowd who come to have a good time and it might be the only rodeo I work where the crowd brings signs,” Kenyon said. “They bring signs for me, and other individuals associated with the rodeo.
For example, signs also recogtnize “Sound Chic” Jill Franzen Lowden of Jill’s Sound.
Kenyon credited Gill for improving every facet of the Gooding rodeo for area fans.
“Considering that it’s in a small town in a small county, Gooding draws a huge crowd,” Kenyon said. “They have great livestock (as evidenced by the 2018 Remuda Award), and they have high quality contestants.”
While he has become accustomed to the sold-out, capacity crowds, Kenyon still is amazed at the turnout.
“The darned thing is just so popular with the area fans,” Kenyon said. “The job Don has done is just incredible. They have been able to provide just the biggest and best show for the fans.”
While the 2018 Remuda Award is the highest honor accorded the GPR, it is not the only recognition for the long-running event.
In 2009, the GPR won the WPRA Justin Best Footing Award and then captured the runner-up honor in 2010. Five times, the GPR has been named the Wilderness Circuit Rodeo of the Year (2004, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2016).
The historic grounds also have been noted as the only PRCA arena with the perimeter fence painted like a tooled leather belt.
Brett Marshall is the retired Sports Editor of The Garden City (KS) Telegram and in 2016 was the recipient of the PRCA Excellence in Journalism Print Award.