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Liberty Bowl Rodeo


Article & photos by Nancy Brannon

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On a chilly last Friday in 2018 (December 28th), over 3,000 rodeo and Liberty Bowl fans filled the Show Place Arena in Memphis, Tenn. for an exciting evening of fast-paced equestrian action at the 31st annual Liberty Bowl Rodeo.

"We always have an excellent crowd, which is a mixture of folks in town for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl game and local rodeo fans," said Sue Lynn Perry, chairperson of the ALB rodeo committee.

"Because of the uniqueness of our audience, we have a number of spectators that may be seeing their very first rodeo, and we take seriously the responsibility of making their first rodeo experience a great one."

This IPRA Professional Rodeo attracts some of the top rodeo performers from around the country. The Coyote Run Drill Team from Mason, Tenn. wowed the crowd for both the opening ceremony and the intermission performances. Miss Rodeo USA 2018 Summer Weldon graced the arena at the opening ceremony. And Ansley Harden, Miss Autozone Liberty Bowl 2018, was on hand for photos and autographs.

This year, the rodeo welcomed professional rodeo announcer Ty Miller and music director Carli Caven to keep the action going and the crowd entertained. Full of bad jokes and corny humor, second-generation Native American rodeo clown Greek Ellick, Jr. prodded the crowd to clap, sing, keep time with the music, and when it was bull riding time, climbed into his barrel to verbally taunt the bulls.  The stock contractor was MFJ Productions (Mark Johnson).

Photographer Dan Wireman was on hand to capture the Liberty Bowl action. “Dan Wireman comes nearly every year of his own accord and takes photos. He is an excellent action photographer,” said Perry.

In Bull Riding, there was only one qualified ride: Tyler Lewis stayed on for an 80-point ride. For the rest of the cowboys, the bulls had the top scores, and inflicted some injuries on three cowboys.

In Barrel Racing four young ladies rode some very fast, very close times, with only tenths of seconds separating them. But the “star” of the barrel racing event was 3-year-old Darby Duncan from Rossville, Tennessee on her Mini Bouncer. She got, by far, the loudest cheering from the crowd.  Results:

1. Kindyl Scruggs – 14.263
2. Taycie Matthews – 14.327
3. Morgan Feltham – 14.601
4. Jaylie Matthews – 14.722

In the Saddle Bronc event, it was Broncs 7, cowboys 0.

There were several “well heeled” team ropers turning in very fast times. Team Roping results:

1. Coy Rahlmann & Douglas Rich - 4.8
2. Quinton Parchman & Justin Pruitt - 5.1
2. Seth Driggers & Kelsey Parchman - 5.1
4. Andrew Livingston & Douglas Rich - 6.1

In Tie Down Roping, Jason Dement and Brian Hart were just 0.1 second apart with equally precise performances. Results:

1. Jason Dement – 10.4
2. Brian Hart – 10.5
3. Avery Shinault – 12.1

In Steer Wrestling, Jesse Kaysaer led the way, taking down his steer in just 4.1 seconds. Results:

1. Jesse Keysaer – 4.1
2. Caleb Little – 5.9
3. Troy Smotherman – 6.0

In Bareback Bronc riding, Josh Cragar turned in an 80-point ride, followed closely by Jacob Raine. Results:

1. Joshua Cragar – 80
2. Jacob Raine - 74

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