By Eric Butler, PNT Correspondent
You can find events all over the country these days that consist of calf roping and only calf roping.
Breaking apart from the traditional rodeo slate of competitions, much the same way bull riding has done, calf roping has carved out its own niche among cowboys looking to make some money.
In Clovis, the annual Joe’s Boot Shop Calf Roping seems to have made its own name within the genre — although still a relative newcomer.
“There’s some sort of calf-roping every weekend somewhere. There’s a lot of people trying to make them big enough. Across the country, I’d say there’s probably a hundred of them,” Wayne Needham says. “This one is already talked about as one of the great ones and it’s only four years old.”
Perhaps not suprising, given his remarks, Needham is the promoter for the Clovis roping event that begins today and wraps up on Sunday.
But there are names and numbers to back up Needham’s claim.
On Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m., the open division of Joe’s calf roping will include many familiar competitors for avid rodeo fans.
Former world champions Joe Beaver, Ryan Jarrett, Monty Lewis and Cody Ohl are among 60 top calf ropers who will compete on the final day. They’ll be joined by veterans such as Mike Johnson, Stran Smith, Blair Burk and Jerome Schneeberger — all cowboys who have qualfied for the National Finals Rodeo multiple times in the past.
The roster of entrants also includes the new generation of top ropers. Josh Peek is currently top-ranked in calf roping in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) ratings while Adam Gray, ranked sixth, will join Peek in Sunday’s competition.
The number that catches the cowboys’ attention is over $35,000 in prize money for the open division alone with the victor claiming around $5,000 and a saddle worth another five grand. The winning money comes from entrants fees as well as funds from sponsors of the calf roping.
“I think that Joe is the promote-ness guy out there,” says Needham of Joe Rhoades, owner of Joe’s Boot Shop in Clovis. “He can promote, promote, promote. And the livestock is a huge deal too. The guys can get the calves and get them even, where everybody has a fair chance.”
Competition for the calf roping actually begins today at 10 a.m. and will continue with more morning sessions on Saturday and Sunday. All events will take place at the Mounted Patrol Arena and admission to the open finals Sunday afternoon is $10 per person.
Much of the preliminary events are for entrants at a lower skill level than the top-ranked cowboys in the open division.
“We have several divisions in this roping, so that people with all levels of experience and talent can come out here and compete,” says Chris Weber, advertising representative for Joe’s Boot Shop. “Friday will start with the double-aught and the breakaway roping for the kids, who won’t actually tie them down.”
Another highlight figures to be the cowboy match events, which feature four cowboys in the arena at the same time with 16 calves to see who can tie down four animals in the shortest period of time.
Also, on Saturday night, a chuckwagon cookoff — dubbed the “Duke of the Dutch Ovens” will take place — featuring 15 cooking teams. Admission to that event is $15 per person and free entrance into Sunday’s roping events.