BACK TO WORK
Over the past three weekends, PRCA officials strategically returned rodeo personnel to work after being shut down for more than two months because of the pandemic.
Rodeos were held May 22-24 in Cave Creek, Arizona, and May 29-31 at Fort Worth’s Cowtown Coliseum with no fans.
But last weekend, the PRCA began allowing fans as Mesquite opened at 25% capacity with pre-designated seating.
Unlike the previous two weeks, most people who attended the Mesquite Rodeo did not wear a mask and there was no medical screening.
“They just treated it like any other rodeo,” Otero said.
Other North Texas rodeos, such as Cleburne and Gladewater, have canceled. Others have rescheduled, including the Parker County rodeo in Weatherford which has been moved from this weekend to July 8-11.
“Timing couldn’t have worked out any better,” said Travis Wheat, the Mesquite rodeo’s director. “When we first got the notification that everything was shutting down, I thought to myself that we’re going to be right on the bubble. We were just stubborn old cowboys and we just held on and it turns out that we were right, right on the bubble. We knew it was a gamble from the start so we never canceled and turns out it’s going to be OK.”
Stace Smith of Athens, the Mesquite rodeo’s senior stock producer, said the performance last weekend felt like a normal rodeo.
“We’re back live and wild here and I think everybody’s happy to see it that way,” said Smith, who has earned the PRCA’s Stock Contractor of the Year title 11 times. “It looks like a real rodeo except Mesquite actually has some way better contestants than they get sometime. We’re a small rodeo, compared to some rodeos, but everybody knew that this was one of the first things that was going happen in Texas. Everybody was ready to get out to a Texas rodeo.”
A BIGGER OPENING
Last year, Mesquite’s total purse for its opening weekend was $15,048, according to prorodeo.com. But on June 6, the prize money totaled $26,631.
The Mesquite Rodeo is held at an indoor facility that was built in the mid-1980s with luxury sky boxes three stories above the arena floor.
On June 6, fans saw world-class competitors such as two-time world champion Taos Muncy who finished in fourth in saddle bronc riding with a score of 74.
Dustin Boquet, a 2018 NFR qualifier from Athens, clinched the bull riding title at Mesquite with an 88 and finished fifth at a PRCA bull riding show last weekend in Lawton, Oklahoma.
He said he thrived on competing in front of fans.
“I ain’t a big fan of getting on with no fans,” Boquet said. “I kind of like hearing a little bit of cheering.”
In an interview after the June 6 performance in Mesquite, announcer Andy Stewart said the rodeo offered great entertainment.
“Tonight was a great way to kick it off, a lot of talent inside that arena, a lot of gold buckles here and guys just hungry to rope and ride,” said Stewart, who also helped call the action at the 2019 National Finals in Las Vegas.
“In this situation, this was the place to be when you talk about talent. We’ve kicked open the chutes and I just hope it continues to roll forward.”
Read full article at the Fort Worth Star Telegram