Some 30 years after the fact, Ryan Figg has a picture at home commemorating when he was a team roping champ with the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association.
The photo conjures up images of his fellow competitors — not that it’s necessary.
The people, young people back then, are still in his life today.
“You make friends in all these different towns,” said Figg, the current president of the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association (HPJRA). “We’re in the livestock business now in Clovis and I’ve been doing that for 21 years.
“You’d be amazed, how many people you run into that you first met doing the High Plains junior rodeos,” Figg added. “You build relationships that last through the years.”
For the 38th straight year, the HPJRA Finals will take place in Clovis beginning on Wednesday and lasting until Saturday at the Curry County Special Events Center.
Over 100 contestants, spread over five age brackets, have been competing since April in 14 rodeos throughout eastern New Mexico and west Texas in preparation for the finals. The individuals will carry their 10 best results into this week’s event, providing their overall point totals for the season.
The first and second rounds (dubbed “go’s” by organizers) will take place Thursday and Friday, each morning beginning at 9 a.m. When those results are combined with the season-long results, the top five competitors will vie for top honors for the HPJRA in Saturday’s short-go at 9 a.m.
Essentially, everyone who competed in HPJRA rodeos throughout the season is invited to the finals.
“We don’t leave anybody out,” said JoEllen Mayfield of Clovis, a director for the HPJRA. “And, yes, it brings a lot of people to Clovis.”
Kicking off the event will be slack competition in team roping, steer roping and poles on Wednesday.
“The whole family will be there,” Figg said. “A lot of the actual rodeo families will stay out on the grounds (near the events center) with maybe the grandparents getting a hotel room while it’s going on.”
Naturally, there’s a new round of Figgs and Mayfields in this year’s HPJRA results as their parents run the show — as the tradition gets passed down to a new generation.
“It just makes them (the junior rodeo participants) responsible,” said Mayfield, whose daughter Shelby and son Shad are in the 10-12 age group. “They’ve got to keep their horses in shape and they’ve got chores they’ve got to do. Your kids, they’re not just sitting around watching TV."