Despite a soaking rain during Saturday night's performance, cowboys and cowgirls representing several Western states pocketed more than $17,500 in prize money last weekend during the Gary Hardt Memorial Pro Rodeo.
For riding P28 Mr. Chisolm to a 78-point finish in the bareback bronc event, Mark Gomes earned the rodeo's largest single payout of $931. His score was one point better than that of runner-up Tom McFarland. McFarland earned $698.
Gomes, born in Globe and an alumnus of Central Arizona College, was the 1998 PRCA World Champion bareback rider, and he is a frequent National Finals Rodeo qualifier. His career earnings are nearing $550,000.
Prescott native Rick Kieckhefer returned to the Mile High City $807 richer thanks to his 10.9-second effort in the calf roping event. Only Roy Alexander, who roped and tied his calf in 13.5 seconds, gave Kieckhefer much competition. Alexander earned $605.
In the bull riding competition, which drew 41 entries, Michael McCarty rode Showering Embers to a winning tally of 83. The ride atop the high-kicking bull, which was supplied by stock contractor Roy Honeycutt, earned McCarty $787 in prize money.
Veteran bull fighters Matt Lucking and Brad Knifong worked the three rodeo performances protecting the contestants.
Mel Coleman and Mike Clancy joined forces in the team roping event for a 6.2-second time that earned them $760 each.
And by throwing a steer to the Payson Event Center dirt in 4.5 seconds, Rob Murphy took home most of the steer-wrestling pool. The win was worth $729.
Although Murphy's time was lightening quick, it didn't approach the world record of 2.4 seconds, which was first set in 1955 by Jim Bynum and Todd Whatley.
The saddle bronc riding competition drew one of the biggest names in the sport Steve Dollarhide of Wikieup, Ariz.
The cowboy lived up to his lofty reputation, easily winning top honors with a score of 78. He earned $589 for his efforts.
At the 1999 National Finals Rodeo, Dollarhide finished fifth in the average. He's also been a Wrangler World of Rodeo and Coca-Cola Winners Circle saddle bronc champion. Dollarhide a frequent visitor to Payson rodeos is a three-time Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo saddle bronc champ.
Among the Women's Professional Rodeo Association entrants, Jolee Lautaret won the barrel riding competition with a time of 17.58 seconds. Her win was worth $538.
The Las Vaqueras de Tucson Quadrille Team and clown Donny Landis were on hand throughout the weekend to entertain fans between rodeo performances, and rodeo announcer Johnny Pope, who's emceed rodeos in Payson for many years, called the events from horseback.