Finally some decent weather.
Between branding calves, irrigating and getting ready for the 10th annual CJD ranch rodeo, things are busy. Ten years ago, a group of civic-minded citizens gathered and put together a ranch rodeo to kickoff Chief Joseph Days PRCA rodeo.
Over the years, the ranch rodeo has contributed thousands of dollars to local scholarships. It has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Some of the events have changed and some have been modified.
In the beginning, we had four-man teams, and two of the team members had to come from the county. In order to increase the number of teams a few years ago, it was changed to three-man teams and two members had to be from the county. Individuals who had been raised in the county but moved away were considered eligible as residents.
One like that, Justin Nedrow, will be back this year and is on a team with Rawley Bixby and Buck Haney. Buck is one of the out-of-county ringers who has competed in the Ranch Rodeo Finals in Texas and is a top hand.
J arrow livestock team is another top team consisting of Jim Hite, Marian Yost and Jerry Cobb. I have never understood how Jim Hite can go all year without practicing and be at the top of his game when he competes.
Jerry Cobb placed in a big roping last year in Las Vegas and pocketed $95,000. Dashing Luke Morgan is entered and is fresh off a big first-place win in a ranch rodeo in central Oregon where the winners were presented trophy rifles.
The Quail Run Ranch team has won the buckles the last two years and hopes to three-peat. That team consists of locals Mel Coleman, Barrie Qualle and out-of-county ringer Brady Black. Mel moved to the county a few years ago and is a 16-time NFR qualifier and has several Canadian Saddle Bronc and All-around Championships.
Too bad most of his championships were in at the wrong end of the arena. He is also the only Olympian to be entered. Mel competed in the Olympics for team Canada in Salt Lake City in 2002.
One of the all local teams to watch is a team made up of Trevor Lewis, Clint Sheafer and recent arrival from western Kansas Greg Seifer.
As you can see, there is some quality talent entered. There will be several other teams entered consisting of top cowboys from local ranches, and if you have been to any local brandings, you know they are real handy in a corral and any team might win.
Ranch Rodeos and the events are tailored to emphasize cattle- handling and roping in a ranch setting and corral work rather than rodeo arena type events. The events are typical ranch work but are timed.
In the past, team roping was an event, and that has now been changed to more resemble pasture roping in that the steers are turned out at the far end of the arena.
The branding contest has been changed this year to be more like ranch branding in that there will be 12 numbered calves in the pen with six cows and the teams will draw a number and that will be the number on the two calves they have to brand.
The festivities begin Friday, June 30, with a trail ride to the top of the east moraine. The ride begins 2:30 p.m. and should be back by 5 p.m. in time for cocktails and a dinner at the thunder room.
Everyone is invited to the trail ride and it is free. Last year about 40 people participated. Everyone is encouraged to go to the beef dinner for an excellent meal for $15. Following the dinner there will be a cowboy Calcutta where they auction off the rodeo teams and a lot of money is paid out to the team buyers if their team places.
Last year the buyer of winning Quail Run Ranch team received around $1,200. The ranch rodeo begins 2 p.m. Saturday, July 1, at the CJD rodeo arena in Joseph. The events are ranch sorting, cut and rope, team branding and pasture-style team roping. There will also be girls breakaway roping and ranch saddle bronc riding.
You can’t find family entertainment like this for $5, so load up the kids, and we will see you at the rodeo.
Barrie Qualle is an all-around working ranch hand, author and ranch rodeo enthusiast. He lives in Wallowa County.