December 3 through 10, 2020
In the midst of a pandemic of great size that had been affecting the entire world for the better part of 2020 professional cowboys and cowgirls were trying to stay afloat with the rodeos that didn’t cancel for this year, but it wasn’t enough. If anyone thinks being a rodeo cowboy or cowgirl isn’t a drain on the pocketbook, they don’t know rodeo. They have to pay an entry fee at every rodeo they attend in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, which is the top level of professionalism in the sport. They also have to pay their own way with travel expenses, such as fuel, food, motels, cafes, and to keep their animal partners sound which requires vet bills and more.
Everyone was trying to follow the recommended advice given by the State on how to protect yourself and your family from getting the dreaded Corona Virus. But rodeo was suffering. The PRCA kept track of the rodeos being held, and by late summer it was determined that at least 14 million dollars had been paid out by rodeos in the organization. Word was beginning to spread that there would be a National Finals Rodeo. But Las Vegas was not where it would be held, in spite of the fact they have a contract with the PRCA for a few more years. Thomas & Mack Stadium, where the National Finals has been held since 1985, is on the campus of University of Las Vegas, and was just too small for a Finals to be held that could follow the rules of the pandemic by social distancing. But PRCA, the Cowboy Channel, who has a contract with PRCA to film their rodeos, and people in Texas got busy, putting together a program that they hoped would work. The only problem they had was will the spectators, fans and cowboys and cowgirls come?
The National Finals Rodeo itself was housed at Globe Life Field, the Texas Rangers baseball stadium, newly built in Arlington. The Cowboy Christmas, a trade show that attracts many people in addition to the fans of rodeo, was held in the Fort Worth Convention Center. The PRCA Convention was housed at the Omni Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, directly across the street from Cowboy Christmas. The Junior National Finals, was held in the historic Stockyard Coliseum, which was built in 1908, and held the first indoor rodeo in 1918. At night the Coliseum held the Watch Party, which was for people who did not have tickets to the rodeo, to watch the National Finals Rodeo on a huge screen. Billy Bob’s, the Largest Honky Tonk in the World, was the scene of several events held, including The Gala, which was an evening of fun and food, honoring the PRCA Legend of Rodeo, Bob Tallman, long-time announcer that announced his 26th National Finals Rodeo at Globe Life Field, covered rodeos for umpteen years and has been awarded the Announcer of the Year by PRCA ten times, plus he’s done so much more for rodeo. Also held there were the National Finals Ladies Luncheon, and the World of Rodeo Gathering which were all ticketed events.
The National Finals Rodeo was handled as expertly as it had ever been handled. The timing was quick and kept everyone’s attention. The big television screens not only added information about each contestant, and the judging, and kept each event’s top scoring contestants listed. Parking was adequate, entrances were efficient, and the facility itself offered plenty of seating (47,000) so social distancing could be done, and room to get around. Although the cost of tickets was a little more than the preceding year, which was expected since such a short time was given for the time in which to purchase them. Overall, it was a huge success and most in the Fort Worth-Arlington-Dallas area will admit more people came than was expected.
AND THE WINNERS WERE - - - - - -
Stetson Wright, age 21, from Milford, Utah, won the 2020 All Around World Championship title. He was entered in the Saddle Bronc and the Bull Riding Event at the National Finals and had won $305,360 prior to the Finals, which was almost twice the amount won by those next cowboys vying for the title – Tuf Cooper, with $179,412; Clay Smith, $159,699 and Trevor Brazile with $94,803. Stetson also became the World Champion Bull Rider this year.
The Bareback Riding event was won by Kaycee Fields, of Genola, Utah with approximately $277,000. The Average was won by Jess Pope of Marshall, Missouri.
The Steer Wrestling event was won by Jacob Edler, of State Center, Iowa and he also won the Average with approximately $200,510. Edler and Stetson Jorgensen, of Blackfoot, Idaho, had the shortest time – 3.3 seconds in the 6thgo-round. In the 9th go-round three steer wrestlers, Matt Reeves, Jacob Talley and Tyler Waguespack won 1st place with a time of 3.5 seconds.
The Team Roping event and Average was won by header Colby Lovell, of Madisonville, TX, and heeler Paul Eaves, of Lonedell, MO. They won the last three go-rounds and splitting the 9th go-round with Chad Masters and Wesley Thorp. The shortest time during the Finals was in the 5th go-round by Clay Smith, of Broken Bow, OK and Jade Corkill, of Fallon, NV with a 3.6 second run
The Saddle Bronc event was won by Ryder Wright, of Beaver, Utah who won five go-rounds, and the Average. It was announced his earnings were $358,470 for the year. Wyatt Casper, of Pampa, TX, last years champ was second and Brody Cress of Hillsdale, WY was third.
The Tie Down Roping event was won by Shad Mayfield, of Clovis, NM. Shad did not have a good National Finals but came into it with $198,399. He was only $231 ahead of Hunter Herrin who had a good Finals. Shane Hanchey, of Sulphur, LA, won the Average. Herrin roped in 6.8 and 6.9 seconds in the 6th and 7th go-rounds. The only other score of 6.9 was Tuf Cooper in the 9th round.
The Barrel Racing event was won by Hailey Kinsel, of Cotulla, TX, which was her 3rd consecutive World Championship title. She also won the Average with 170.95 seconds in ten runs. Kinsel also received the RAM Top Gun Award by winning the most money of any competitor at the National Finals, with $270,615.39. The times were mainly in the 17 second area, until the 5th go-round when Kinsel had 16.92 seconds. She followed that in the 7th through 10th round with 16+ seconds times. The only two other barrel racers to have runs that fast were Emily Miller, of Weatherford, OK, with 16.85 & 16.75 second runs in the 7th and 8th go-rounds, and Stevi Hillman of Weatherford, TX won the 10th round with a run of 16.79 beating Kinsel who had 16.88. Hailey Kinsel finished her year with $349,076 as the Wrangler National Finals Barrel Racing Champion and Average Champion, and the 2020 WPRA World Champion Barrel Racer.
The Bull Riding event was won by Stetson Wright, of Milford, Utah. He won four go-rounds during the Finals and ended up with approximately $267,000 in the event. Average was won by Ty Wallace of Colbran, CO.
Women’s Breakaway Roping held for the very first time during the National Finals was held at 10AM in the Globe Life Field on Dec. 7, 8 & 9. With four rounds each the first two days. Then two rounds on Dec. 9th , then the top eight, then the top four. The World Champion was Jackie Crawford of Stephenville, TX. It was announced there was a purse of $185,000 in this event.
The 2020 Wrangler NFR Payout was as follows:
Go Rounds Average
1st - $26,231 1st - $67,269
2nd - $20,731 2nd - $54,577
3rd - $15,654 3rd - $43,154
4th - $11,000 4th - $31,731
5th - $6,769 5th - $22,846
6th - 4,231 6th - $16,500
7th - $11,423
8th - $6,346
I would like to dedicate this Blog to my friend, William MacLeod, who lives in Nova Scotia and is an avid fan of rodeo and especially Breakaway Roping.