Inducted 2017Judy Munson HOF Biography
Judy Munson was born and raised in San Diego, California, along with two older brothers, because her Dad was in the U. S. Navy. She attended Brigham Young University and earned a Master of Science Degree in Physical Education with a specialty in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training. Judy's first exposure to Calgary was during "Stampede Week". She immediately fell in love with Calgary and thought it would be a great place to teach and live. While there, she interviewed for a teaching position and got the job. After a number of immigration issues were resolved, she was accepted into Canada, so she packed up her car and little U-haul trailer and moved to Calgary. The adventure meant that she would be leaving all her friends and family behind in the USA. After convincing her family that she was not going to live in an Igloo, nor drive a dog sled, she began her "Big Canadian Adventure" in 1975. She maintains Canadian and American citizenship, but fondly calls Calgary home.
Judy met Lori, her partner of 36 years, in Calgary in 1981. (pic-Judy and Lori white shirts) After teaching for 16 years they began running their own business called "The Woodshed" full time. They currently live on a 160 acre ranch on the south edge of Calgary where they board horses and enjoy riding their own horses.
Since Judy had grown up in the city and had never been around horses or cattle, her first horse, named Chico, was bought for her by Lori. Chico was the perfect beginners horse; trustworthy, calm, forgiving and solid. Judy was smitten with Chico, horses and riding. (pic-Judy and Chico)
Judy and Lori attended their first sanctioned "Canadian Rockies International Rodeo" produced by the Alberta Gay Rodeo Association (ARGRA) in 1994, as retailers. They started a little company called "Queerly Canadian" selling Pride products and t-shirts with rodeo printed slogans. They had ideas about how the retail area could be improved, and as all volunteer organizations operate, immediately found themselves the retail coordinators for ARGRA.
Judy's first introduction to competition was due to Kim Dawson, an International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) Arena Director, who was looking for a female to compete with two cowboys. Kim told Judy: "All you have to do is hold a rope on this itty bitty calf, and when it comes out of the chute you hand the rope to your cowboy and you're done." That was the description that was given to Judy to get her to compete in her first Wild Drag Race. As the evening progressed and more drinks were consumed, Judy discovered it was not a calf, but a cow. Later it was not a cow, but a wild and rangy bucking and kicking steer. However, she loved the excitement and adrenaline rush and was "hooked". With the exception of the three years she was Rodeo Director for the "Canadian Rockies International Rodeo" in 1997, 1998 and 1999, Judy competed in every ARGRA rodeo through 2015 in Flag Racing, Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Steer Decorating, Calf Roping on Foot, Goat Dressing, and Wild Drag Race, She has also competed in many of the IGRA sanctioned rodeos in the United States. (pic - Judy on Sunny)
Judy has been involved with ARGRA since 1993, and sat on the Executive Board as President 2 years, Vice President 2 years, Sponsorship Director 2 years, Fund Raising Director 2 years, and Rodeo Director three years in succession, as well as other various committee positions. Her last year on the ARGRA Board was 2012. She was presented the Grand Marshal Award on ARGRA's 10th Rodeo Anniversary.
Judy has received numerous awards from IGRA including Director's Award 1997, Trustee's Award 1998 and International Award 2014. Judy and Heather Murray were jointly presented with the IGRA Website Award in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. They were also awarded the IGRA Media Award in 2009.
Judy was also President of ARGRA in 2005 for the first IGRA convention to be held outside the United States. (pic-ARGRA Convention) The ARGRA Board at the time was a fun, energetic group and despite the cold weather and the fluctuating Canadian Dollar, they succeeded in putting on one of the best IGRA Conventions held. IGRA President Brian Helander (aka Prime Minister Brian Helander) presided.
Judy was one of the Assistant Rodeo Directors for the "World Gay Rodeo Finals" in 2015 at South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. At the time of her induction into this Hall of Fame Judy also holds a position on the Board of the Gay and Lesbian Rodeo Heritage Foundation (GLRHF).
Judy is proudest of her leadership role with the IGRA Rodeo at "Gay Games 9" (GG9) which was held in 2014.
It all began in 2008, when the Cleveland, Ohio Gay Games organizing group approached Brian Helander, then President of IGRA. Their idea was to submit a "bid" to the Federation of Gay Games to propose a unique additional experience that would symbolize the great North American LGBT cowboy and cowgirl. It was a great opportunity to showcase the athletes of IGRA, and to show the world what IGRA members do as they carry out the over 30 year's long charitable rodeo mission of "supporting associations that support communities".
Judy was extremely honored to be asked in 2012 to act as Committee Chair to plan and produce the first ever complete IGRA rodeo to run in conjunction with the Gay Games. This task was the most challenging project that Judy had encountered in rodeo production. There were so many challenges: lack of rodeo facilities; producing a rodeo in an area that was not familiar with gay rodeo or rodeo of any type; long distances for hauling in order to get appropriate stock; and long distances traveled by contestants hauling horses. There were individual nay-sayers, organizational worries, internal and external politics, and legal mandates. Additionally, the GG9 Rodeo was to be held in a location without an IGRA base to help with critical "boots on the ground". To say that Judy rose to the challenge confronting her would be an understatement.
Judy was later selected to be the GG9 Rodeo Director and it all became very real. Judy considers her biggest blessing being able to hand pick her own committee, and without exception every person she asked to be involved took it on whole heartedly and professionally and were excited to be a part of this historic rodeo. They lived in various parts of the U. S. and Canada, but worked closely with each other, and through their dedication and perseverance the rodeo and entire event was a success.
Judy says that she "considered herself lucky to work with these amazing people," who in many cases were only acquaintances to begin with, and are now great and close friends who will always have a very special place in her heart: Tommy Channel - Assistant Rodeo Director; Brian Rogers, Brian Helander, Chuck Browning, John Hill, Lorry King, Travis Gardner, Frank Harrell, David Hill, Heather Murray, Tom Lott, Wayne Schultz, Sandy Bidwell, Patrick Terry, and Bruce Gros.
One of the most thrilling moments for Judy and those who took part was being part of the Gay Games opening ceremonies at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. There were 10,000 athletes from 60 nations, and 37 sports. 100 IGRA competitors, plus volunteers and officials walked onto the main floor dressed in boots, red IGRA western shirts and white cowboy hats. (pic- red shirts). IGRA cowboys and cowgirls made an unforgettable entrance to the opening ceremonies, and the IGRA rodeo was the talk of "Gay Games 9" and the world of gay athletes.
The GG9 Rodeo venue was full to capacity and everyone who participated in the success credits Judy's leadership, commitment, communication skills and her calm determination to overcome all obstacles to make GG9 Rodeo happen...and happen it did. The "Men of Charlie's" wowed the crowd in the Opening Ceremonies, and also carried all the state flags during the Grand Entry at the Rodeo. As a result of the experience, Gay Rodeo was included in a permanent memorial statue in Akron, Ohio with a horse and rider prominently displayed.
Judy says..."The most inspirational part of IGRA's success at Gay Games 9 was watching competitors, volunteers and officials all come together without exception to show the world our best performances, outstanding competition and amazing camaraderie during the entire event. We can do anything we put our minds to when we have the same vision, goals and desire. " (pic-contestants in arena)
Judy loves her involvement with the IGRA family and the deep and meaningful friendships she has developed over the years.
When informed of her induction, Judy, in her own humble way, stated that she is "extremely honored to join the members of the IGRA Hall of Fame".