The year is 1993 on a beautiful Saturday in Milverton Ontario. My nerves are shot as this is my very first rodeo in the Jr.Bullriding event. My Dad, who at the time was competing in the Steer Wrestling event as well as the bullriding helps me hang my rope on the fence and begins applying rosin to make er nice and sticky. I should be paying attention and listening to his guidance but my eyes wander taking in all the new scenery. Seeing cowboys was nothing new to me as I have already been to countless practices with my rodeo father held at the Scully farm. I recall countless amounts of cowboys and cowgirls, the best in Ontario if you will have all gathered for that one particular rodeo. Smiles from the spectators light up an already very sunny day and the nearby bullriders swap methods and game plans on how to get by a bull named SledgeHammer. I am overwhelmed by the joy and adrenaline rush that rodeo was presenting. As rodeo announcer Bob Baker rides in on his good looking steed entertaining the masses it can only mean one thing, its showtime and my time to shine. I anxiously climb down inside of the Blue and Yellow chutes and begin tieing in my hand, I take my wrap and nod for the gate. Sadly, it did not last long as I hit the ground in 2 jumps and get the wind knocked out of me but got up with a huge smile.
This was my first rodeo but it was also the day I fell in love with the sport of rodeo.
Yep, that’s where it all started for me. I’m sure everyone who rodeos has a familiar story that kick started it all for them. For me it all happened while inside the Blue and Yellow chutes. The rodeo company was Big L Rodeo and back then they were the goto producer for rodeos in Ontario. Nowadays a guy can hit 3 rodeos in one weekend in Ontario if he wanted to. Back then everybody went to that one rodeo, that’s where your friends were going to be all weekend and chances are that barrel racer you’ve been crushing on will be there as well.
Ritchie Welch Accepting An Ontario Gold Buckle
I have fond memories of the rodeos of back then. The bull riding was ruled by a blonde bombshell named SledgeHammer, the bareback and saddle bronc riding was ruled by another blonde bombshell named Tequila. The Jr.Bull riding was the start of Reuben Geleynse’s career who is undoubtedly the best bull rider to ever come out of Ontario. The bareback bronc riding was dominated by cowboys Ritchie Welch and Kennedy Haskell. The talents of a young hotshot with the PlayBoy bunny on his chaps is all the rage amongst the bronc riders. Yes, Ryan Adams, that means you. Along with Andy McCallister and Steve Hallman the saddle bronc riding is ruled by 15 time Ontario champion Brian Doner. The bull riding sees champions like Billy Linders with his picture perfect riding form, Ciaran Hester with his unmatched hustle and a young talented, skinny kid named Brandon Moore. The timed event end sees Joe Alexander, a young John Scully and the unmatched career of young champion Jason Thomson has just begun.
Billy Linders and the notorious SledgeHammer
Rodeo in Ontario sure has changed since then. For starters, the arena is not blue and yellow anymore and nowadays there is tons of room behind the bucking chutes for a guy to warmup and children can get a closer look at the cowboys and livestock. Back then warming up meant sharing the holding pens with the broncs and you better keep a watchful eye because some of those nags bite. Aside from the sheer passion of rodeo cowboys and cowgirls also have a chance to win some prize money and back in the day is no different. Today’s professionals can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars while rodeoing. Back in the Blue and Yellow days there definitely was not that much money up for grabs. Back then a guy would pay a fee of a mere 50 bucks with 300 bucks added in the overall pot. Not big numbers by any stretch considering nowadays a rodeo in Ontario will cost ya upwards to 100 bucks for fees and have a grand added to each event on top of all the gas you’ll use getting to the rodeo.
John Scully Roping Inside The Blue and Yellow Arena
Another giant change in rodeo since that day in 1993 is the ushering in of social media. Back then we didn’t even have cell phones let alone Twitter and Facebook. Nowadays if I am waiting to hear how well I placed at a rodeo I just fire off a text to a buddy or make a Facebook post about it. Back then the absolute best way to hear how you did was to gather by the radio on a Sunday night after the rodeo and turn on 820 CHAM. Chances are you already knew how you did and what you won for dollars but the chance to hear your name on the radio was truly awesome. Doing the broadcast was not some unknown radio DJ, it was in fact, the rodeo announcer himself Bob Baker. Being just a sprout I never had the chance to hear my name but my fathers name was mentioned quite a bit, and to me, that was awesome.
Bob Baker Horseback Announcing Yet Another Ontario Rodeo
Sadly the days of the Blue and Yellow arena are far behind us, some of the panels and chutes are still around as they are being used by Cowboys for personal reasons on their farms. Some might say that if you competed inside the Blue and Yellow arena that you are a legend. Seeing where rodeo began and where it has arrived in Ontario I myself am damn proud to say that not only myself but my Father, Mother, Sister, and my Brother have competed inside that memorable arena. Back then I was a young Jr.Bullrider in front of hundreds of people waiting for the day to throw my hat after a great ride just like my Dad, and dreamed of one day hearing my name being announced over 820 CHAM.
Thank you for the memories Big L Rodeo,
Let Er Buck,