About 3,200 expected to attend gay championship rodeo at Resistol Arena
By-Tammye Nash Staff Writer
About 3,200 people are expected to attend the International Gay Rodeo Association's Finals Rodeo this weekend in Dallas, according to Karroll Parker of Fort Worth, rodeo director. The finals rodeo is being held in Dallas for the first time in its 19-year history, and Parker said coordinators were thrilled to be able to hold the event in the Resistol Arena in Mesquite.
"This is one of the most highly acclaimed arenas on the circuit," Parker said. "We have moved into the straight man's rodeo world now." The Resistol Arena is home to the world-famous Mesquite Championship Rodeo held each spring and summer. Owned by Tom Hicks, the arena is a fully-air-conditioned indoor facility with seating for 5,500, including luxury suites.
The arena is located at I-635 at Military Parkway, about 15 minutes east of downtown Dallas. Parker said the well-lighted arena is not only a great place to compete, but also allows spectators to be close to the action.
Holding the IGRA Finals Rodeo in one of the best professional rodeo arenas around is fitting, Parker said, since those competing in the event are "the best of the best" in the gay rodeo world.
They come from 25 member associations around the U.S. and Canada, and accumulate points by winning at 22 rodeos sponsored by member associations throughout the year. The top 20 contestants in 13 events, based on point totals, are then invited to compete in the finals rodeo, Parker said.
Those events include the rough stock events like bull riding, bronc riding and steer riding, timed events like barrel racing, pole bending, calf roping and steer wrestling, and the ever-popular "camp events" - steer decorating, goat dressing and the wild drag race - that are unique to the gay rodeo circuit.
Several North Texans are on that "best of the best" list and are expected to compete at the finals rodeo this weekend.
Candy Pratt of the Red River Rodeo Association ranks in the top 20 in seven events. She is the top-ranked woman in pole bending, the flag race and mounted breakaway roping. Pratt is ranked fourth in barrel racing and calf roping on foot, and eighth in team roping. She also qualified for the wild drag race by placing 17th.
Wade Earp of Dallas, a Texas Gay Rodeo Association member, qualified for the fmals rodeo in five events. He is ranked fourth in steer riding, fifth in bull riding, sixth in bareback bronc riding, ninth in the flag race and 19th in steer decorating.
Doreen Rue, another Red River Rodeo Association cowgirl, qualified for the finals rodeo by placing third in pole bending, seventh in barrel racing and 14th in both the flag race and calf roping on foot.
Top-ranked bull rider Steve Daigle is expected to compete this weekend. Daigle, who is also ranked third in steer riding, is from New Orleans. But after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina, he is living in Dallas and is a member of the Red River Rodeo Association.
Other top cowboys expected to compete at Resistol Arena are Tee Tramp of the Atlantic States Gay Rodeo Association and Chuck Browning of the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association.
Tramp is ranked first in bareback bronc riding and steer riding, second in bull riding, fifth in pole bending, eighth in barrel racing, 12th in the flag race and 13th in chute dogging. Browning is second in goat dressing, third in bull riding, fourth in steer decorating, eighth in chute dogging, 11th in calf roping on foot and 17th in the flag race.
Member associations will also send their local royalty titleholders to Dallas this weekend to compete for the titles of Mr./Miss/Ms/MsTer IGRA. The royalty contest began Thursday night. It continues Friday at 8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Select Love Field, 3300 W. Mockingbird Lane. New title holders will be crowned Saturday night in ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m.
The first rodeo performance begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at Resistol Arena. The morning session will include calf roping on foot, pole bending, steer riding, the wild drag race, barrel racing, chute dogging, the flag race, steer decorating, breakaway roping and team roping.
The grand entry, orchestrated this year by the Turtle Creek Chorale, begins at 2 p.m., followed at 2:30 p.m. by the afternoon performance.
Events in the afternoon performance will include bronc riding, breakaway roping, team roping, barrel racing, steer riding, goat dressing, chute dogging the wild drag race and bull riding.
Top competitors from Saturday's events then advance to Sunday's rodeo performance, which will follow the same schedule.
Awards will be presented at a barbecue dinner beginning at 8 p.m. Sunday at Resistol Arena.
The vendors area opens each day at 10 a.m. It will include a variety of booths by merchants and community organizations. Food vendor for the rodeo will be Sonny Bryan's Barbecue. Performance groups will include the Turtle Creek chorale. Tamara Marks of the Heartland Gay Rodeo Association is scorekeeper for the finals rodeo, and judges will be Rick Jones, Thorn Sloan, Jorge Ramirez and Ashley Anderson.