The contests at the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo will have a familiar voice guiding audiences through the action. The long-time voice of Payson rodeos, Johnny Pope, is returning to talk everyone through the events in the arena.
Pope and his wife, Janet, make their home in Semmes, Ala., but spend much of the year on the road, trailering their horses along the way. Pope works from horseback when announcing most of the rodeos he works, but also keeps audiences advised of the action in the arena from the announcer's booth. He has been announcing rodeos since 1970.
While Pope announces and sings at rodeos, his wife provides music and sound for the shows and helps with timing events. The couple work between 40 and 45 rodeos every year.
"America is my audience and the United States is my arena," he said. "I love this great land and its people."
Pope counts among his credentials being a former rodeo contestant and runner-up World Champion Cowboy Polo Player. Twice he has been the alternate announcer for the National Finals Rodeo in both Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.
Other top announcing jobs have been with the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Albuquerque, the Military National Finals Rodeo in Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif., and with the Cowboy Polo World Championships three times.
He, astride his American quarter horse, Dude, announced the opening ceremonies and the American Quarter Horse Association events of the World Cup Horse Show the first time it was held in the U.S.
"I love what I do and I do what I love," Pope said.