By Lillian Landreth
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse PRCA Rodeo in Cleburne, Texas, breathed new life into the arena June 9—12th. The rodeo grounds that felt like a ghost town only a year ago due to the pandemic teemed with activity once again as stock trailers rattled into the lot kicking up dust, rodeo buzzers sounded, and the scent of sizzling Posse Burgers drifted through the air.
The city of Cleburne, originally a bivouac for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, was named after Confederate general Patrick R. Cleburne. It was also rooted in the cattleman’s lifestyle from the very beginning as cowboys herded their stock down the nearby Chisholm Trail, and the first RCA-sanctioned rodeo in Cleburne was organized by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse in 1953. This was part of their effort to promote stock horses, cultivate community involvement, and preserve the traditions of the Old West that remain valuable no matter the century. 2021 marked the rodeo’s 66th year, and JCSP member and rodeo committee man Phil Williams said the response was absolutely positive.
Among the 525 contestants entered in the rodeo were tie-down ropers Shane Hanchey and Tuf Cooper, as well as bareback rider Tilden Hooper, competitors who only a few months ago were all vying for a fortune in the 2021 RFD-TV The American. Hanchey and Hooper both took home $100,000 from The American and won their events in the PCSP Rodeo, while Coopercashed in a check for $26,000 from The American and won third in the tie-down roping at PCSP Rodeo. When the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo had to cancel early this year, the PCSP Rodeo also became a WNFR-qualifying rodeo, as well as a qualifier for the 2022 FWSSR Pro Rodeo Tournament.
Danny Reagan’s United Pro Rodeo Company rolled in with talent and expertise, from the swift-footed action of bullfighters Cody Webster and Brody Smith, and the clowning capers of Rockin Robbie Hodges, to pickup men Cam Rodgers and Ketch Weaver shuttling cowboys to safety. Rodeo announcer West Huggins’ voice rang out over the loudspeakers, as he narrated the action. In between protecting bull riders—including 18-year-old Lukasey Morris, who won the bull riding—Webster and Smith incorporated freestyle bullfighting into each evening, spinning, dodging, and even jumping the 1,000-plus pounds of any ornery bull that hurtled in their direction. Saturday night’s rodeo theme was Red for Rumohr Night in honor of the freestyle world champion Texas bullfighter, Greg Rumohr, who passed away in 2015. Webster and Smith were both honored to fight that night wearing two of the red shirts in which Rumohr fought bulls.
Like they have in years past, the PCSP Rodeo’s community involvement extended into the roping box, giving two local team roping teams the opportunity each night to compete for a $1,000 jackpot. The Sheriff’s Posse is dedicated to giving back to their community in the form of scholarships, cash, and facility use, and in 2020 donated $45,000 to youth organizations and charity efforts. Bright orange shirts and bandanas rippled through the seats and arena Friday night as well for MS Night, bringing awareness about Multiple Sclerosis. “Two years ago was wear purple for Lupus, and every year we’re going to change it to bring awareness to other medical conditions,” said Posse member and rodeo medical officer Jon Puryear.
Maycie Anderson, resplendent in red, was crowned the 2021 JCSP Rodeo Queen Saturday night, while Harleigh Thiel, white stars glittering across her red shirt, was crowned the 2021 JCSP Rodeo Princess. Another opportunity for the ladies of rodeo—new this year to the JCSP Rodeo—was the addition of breakaway roping to the lineup of events. “The crowd loved it, and it is something we will definitely keep doing,” said Williams. Sled racing, also a crowd pleaser, made its debut at the rodeo, a brainchild of the Sheriff’s Posse. A team of two—one person riding a plywood sled and the other riding the horse pulling the sled—raced to the end of the arena to grab a jug of water and raced back against the clock, trying not to spill. All of the creativity of the rodeo committee and United Pro Rodeo, spirited competition of the athletes, and adrenaline-laced excitement of the events made for a lively return for the JCSP Rodeo, enjoyed by more than 6,500 fans. “This was the largest rodeo we’ve had that I know of in Posse history,” said Puryear. “With all the contestants and spectators, by far the very best.”
About the Author
Lillian Landreth is a freelance writer and editor. She particularly enjoys writing about rodeo and the extraordinary people and animals who make the lifestyle fascinating. The author of more than 1,000 stories, her writing has appeared in the Rodeo News; The Ketchpen, published by the Rodeo Historical Society and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; and local newspapers. She is also working on her #rst novel. When she’s not writing, Lily enjoys riding with the Snake River Stampeders night light drill team, coaching the EhCapa Bareback Riders, a PRCA specialty act, and teaching horseback riding lessons. She makes her home in Southwest Idaho with her entrepreneurial husband, their dog, horse, and cows.
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