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Liberty Bowl Rodeo


by Nancy & Tommy Brannon

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The 27th annual Liberty Bowl Professional Rodeo, held in conjunction with the 56th annual Liberty Bowl, attracted a huge crowd that filled the Show Place Arena in Memphis, TN, Saturday night December 27, 2014. Fans of all sizes and ages turned out to watch the exciting action of tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, barrel racing, and bull riding. Alina Bonacquista, 2014 Mid-South Rodeo Queen  led the grand entry for the start of the rodeo. Memphis Area Ford Dealers sponsored the event.

The rodeo stock, supplied by Universal Rodeos, LLC was tough on this year’s competitors. No cowboys made the time in the saddle bronc riding. And paramedics had to be brought to the arena twice during the bull riding for downed cowboys. The aggressive bulls weren’t content just to throw their riders and have their job done. They went after the cowboys and rodeo clowns alike after dumping their riders. One bull even kicked down the exit/entrance gates to the arena, something the announcer said he had only seen happen once before. Most of the bulls were spinning while bucking, a difficult two-way unbalancing act for the cowboy to ride. But one cowboy, Brandon Davis, did make the 8 second ride to score 84 well earned points for his work. Reece Cates scored a close second, with 83 points for his ride.

Two cowgirls in the evening’s barrel racing event had times in the 14 second range to earn top spots on the leader board. Kindyl Scruggs had a time of 14.740, followed closely by D J Crenshaw with 14.742. The final two barrel racers were sisters, the last a 10-year-old, who were tough enough to compete with the best of them.

In the team roping, Jake Weddle and Josh Canant earned the top spot (5.0), with Chris Chandler and Land Mitchell a very close second (5.3). Chad Masters, paired with Sam Smith and with KC Jones, tied for third places (5.6). Dalton Turner and Jeri Rhine were a close fourth (5.7), and Turner, paired with Cooper Bruce, rounded out fifth (6.8).

In Bareback riding, Zach Lomax earned the top spot with 77.5 points, followed in second by Cody Mounts (76.5). In Steer Wrestling, it was Jordan Thrasher in first (3.2) with Cameron Fennell in second (4.1). Thrasher was also tied for first in Tie Down Roping with Mitch Rinehart, both with a score of 9.4. Clark Adcock. J C Duncan, and John Toole finished in a three-way tie for second (11.6).

Mid-way through the events, Miss AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Kathryn Ellis, was escorted around the arena in a new Ford pickup truck. Rodeo clown Dusty Myers hosted the “Buckaroo Boot Race,” congratulating the winner Paul Marek with a $100 gift card. The Coyote Run Drill Team wowed the crowd with their flag-carrying, precision movements. Throughout the rodeo Dusty Myers entertained the audience with his wisecracking, silly jokes, and even a rap song about a rodeo clown. While the weather outside was a steady, misting rain, inside the enthusiastic audience clapped, shouted, and thoroughly enjoyed the professional rodeo action. 

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