Roping event grows

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

Four things draw ropers to Clovis’ Joe’s Boot Shop calf roping event:

• Good prize money

• Comfort

• Fresh calves

• A well organized competition

The event has quickly grown into the largest calf roping event in the country, according to Chris Weber, drawing participants from across the nation and places as far as Brazil, Canada and Australia.

Weber is the advertising director for Joe’s Boot Shop and notes another point that can’t be underplayed is the little guy can compete against some of the biggest names in roping and has an equal chance.

“It’s kind of a test your mettle thing. They can be up against the big guys and win some money,” she said.

In last year’s open roping competition, 23-year-old relatively unknown Ryle Smith from Oakridge, Calif., competed against some of the top names in roping and won, she said.

Events Center Manager Kevin Jolley said the event is, “by far,” the largest roping event in the nation and one of the top five overall events for the facility.

Jolley said 16 of the nation’s top 20 ropers are expected to attend Sunday.

The first three days are free to the public and offer non-stop activity that will, “start in the morning and who knows when we’ll get done,” he said.

The roping event begins today and lasts through Sunday, offering a multitude of activities including daily competitions for all ages and skill levels, a New Mexico High School Rodeo, a chuck wagon cook-off and even a Desert Cruzers car show.

Sunday’s open competition is the pinnacle of the event with tickets at $10.

And the activities are plentiful throughout each of the four days, giving spectators more than enough to keep them entertained, Weber said.

Weber said the event has grown exponentially in its short six-year history and easily compares to the National Finals Rodeo hosted annually in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Part of the draw is money, she said, explaining in addition to cash prizes and saddles, competitors could win $10,000 added by Ariat International Boots and another $5,000 added by Cactus Saddlery.

“The pay-outs are extremely good and that’s why the ropers come,” she said. “You win one round and you can make back your entry fee and then some.”

But the money isn’t the only thing drawing competitors.

Having an opportunity to compete in an indoor arena is a welcome relief to attendees, she said, who often travel extensively with their families and are glad to have shelter from the elements during long weekend events.

“We increased our attendance 40 some percent just because we moved indoors,” she said.

The Curry County Events Center, in its second year of operation, has been a huge perk and draw, she said.

Ropers also like the “fresh” calves used in competition, Weber said, and appreciate the smooth management of the event.

Events center staff have bent over backwards to accommodate competitors and organizers, making it successful operation, she said.