We dedicate Atlantic Stampede '97 to the memory of our friend and compatriot, Gary Robinson, who passed away in January after a year of severe illness. Gary joined ASGRA soon after the organization was founded and served as our first elected secretary. He was involved in many activities, serving on several committees, active as a country/western dancer and dance instructor, and participated in rodeo competition with his horse "Bismarck."
Gary was instrumental in developing and served as the first Public Relations Spokesperson for the International Gay Rodeo Association. His hard work and dedication to Gay rodeo contributed substantially to the growth and development of our sport. Even during his illness, he remained involved in the workings of ASGRA and IGRA and served as the Grand Marshal for Atlantic Stampede '96. We are saddened by his absence but are proud to have known him and to have had the opportunity to work with him for the benefit of Gay rodeo. We miss you Gary!
In July of 1991, four young men came together for differing reasons at the gay rodeo in Denver, Colorado. That weekend would change their lives and have a lasting impact on the Gay community of the National Capital area.
Phil Hastings was visiting the Denver area for a weekend of fun and looking to start anew after the loss of a longtime partner. Learning to do country/western dancing had been a part of his healing process and had led him to a new circle of friends.
Phil Riggin was living in the Denver area, far from his original Maryland home, participating as a volunteer at a sports event that reflected his growing interest in western equestrian activities. Having adopted a cowboy persona, he still held Eastern Maryland dose to his heart and wanted to bring these two parts of his life together.
Mike Lentz had come to the Rocky Mountain Rodeo prodded by a rough stock rider he had befriended at the 1990 IGRA Finals Rodeo in Phoenix, Arizona. After that first visit as a rodeo spectator with a buddy pass to the chutes area, he was determined to compete in a Gay rodeo -- not just watch.
Dave Hehr was visiting the home of IGRA rodeo at the urging of Lentz who wanted to partner with him in several events. Dave had been interested in country/ western dance and the possibility of competing in rodeo for a long time.
With the direction of several rodeo enthusiasts in Denver, these four men began talking to each other soon after the Colorado rodeo. Within three weeks, they laid the groundwork for ASGRA by selecting a name and designing a logo, creating a nonprofit corporation, initiating fund raising efforts, and enlisting members. Although they never questioned the potential for ASGRA's success, they couldn't have imagined the influence that the organization would eventually have on the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, Gay and Lesbian country/western community or the International Gay Rodeo Association.
From the beginning the original goals for ASGRA were to establish a group specifically directed toward bringing the sport of gay rodeo to the East Coast, while at the same time offering opportunities for participation in an outstanding community organization focused on many types of country and western activities. These goals remain the same today. Whether in the production of rodeo, developing new contestants through event training, promoting dance, socializing with like-minded friends, or raising funds for community charities. ASGRA has become an outlet for participation in various cowboy/cowgirl activities and has developed into an organization for our entire community.
For their spirit, enthusiasm, courage, and perserverance we salute these four men -- Phil, Phil, Mike, and Dave --the founding members of the Atlantic States Gay Rodeo Association as our Rodeo Grand Marshals. They brought something very special to our local community. We are proud of their many accomplishments and look forward to a promising future.