La Fiesta de los Vaqueros
Rodeo photos: Whipping winds don't vanquish vaqueros
In true rodeo fashion, neither a drop in temperature nor cutting, gale-force winds kept spectators away from Sunday's sixth and final performance at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. The roster was full for the championship round in what is predictably the busiest day at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. The stands were also full, with over 8,000 in attendance.
Sunday brought the stiffest competition of the week. The spectators enthusiastically supported all the cowboys, especially in the roughstock events. Jesse Davis of Power, Mont., stomped the competition with an 85-point-ride in the bareback event on a horse named Black Cat. With several scores in the high 70's and low 80's, Jeremy Ray Melancon of Huntsville, Texas, barely squeaked by with an 83-point-ride on Bitter Robin for the saddle-bronc.
The first timed event, steer wrestling, delivered close competition between all 12 riders. In the end, Casey McMillen of Redmond, Oregon took the victory lap with a time of 4.1 seconds.
Blair Burk, a cowboy from Durant, Okla., earned the best time in Sunday's tie-down roping event. This is a progressive event, however, and Randall Carlisle of Castor, Louisiana had the best aggregate time. Carlisle's 12.3 second ride placed him in the number one slot, with an aggregate of 44.3 seconds over three rides, making him this years' tie-down champion.
Extreme headwinds made the team roping event difficult, as the cowboys had to throw a half-pound rope into 25 mph headwinds. The result was a limited number of qualified rides. Jake Barnes & Walt Woodard had Sunday's second-best time, 6.8 seconds, but this was enough to place them in the number one spot in the aggregate.
The most dangerous livestock are always saved for last, and Sunday's bull-riding event delivered few qualified rides. The one standout was a young cowboy named Tyler Smith. This Colorado bull-rider is also recognized as an accomplished roper, but he had the crowd on their feet while riding a beast named Drop Time, earning the day's high score, a whopping 88 points, and a victory lap as the champion bull-rider of the rodeo. The arena record, set in 2006, stands at 93 points.