Jerrad Hofstetter spent Friday competing at two rodeos in Arizona — one in the afternooon, one in the evening.
By midday today, though, he plans to be in Lubbock, chasing down and tying a calf during a matinee performance of the ABC Pro Rodeo at City Bank Coliseum. As one of the PRCA’s top tie-down ropers, Hofstetter’s been to the National Finals Rodeo three of the last four years, but a cowboy can’t qualify for the biggest events without showing up at the smaller ones.
Hence, the reason Hofstetter competed Thursday night in Graham, Friday in Cave Creek and Queen Creek, Ariz. and today Lubbock.
“It’s a good circuit rodeo for me,” Hofstetter said by telephone Friday. “It counts for my circuit, and it’s close to the house. It pays good enough I can’t afford not to go. It’s a neat, fun little hometown rodeo.”
The ABC Rodeo concludes with two shows at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today, and a who’s who of rodeo standouts are entered in the night performance: four-time bareback world champion Bobby Mote, two-time barrel racing world champion Lindsay Sears, 2004 tie-down roping world champion Monty Lewis, seven-time NFR bareback rider Wes Stevenson and four-time NFR bareback veteran Tom McFarland.
“We’ve got some good people, some high-caliber people,” ABC Rodeo chairman Leslie Cox said. “The good thing about our rodeo is we’ve always been able to draw a few of the top guys, which is really cool, especially when it comes to trying to get to Lubbock. A lot of places are easier to get to. The fact they’re going out of their way in some cases to get to Lubbock, Texas, that especially means a lot.”
Mote, for example, is a Culver, Ore., cowboy who is finishing up a Texas swing, according to his web site. Mote is entered in the ABC Rodeo’s team-roping competition, though he’s been one of the sport’s hottest bareback riders over the last decade, winning the world title three times in the last five years and finishing third twice.
Cox said it’s important to the Lubbock rodeo, though, that the top pros from the area put it on their calendars. Stevenson lives in Lubbock, Sears has a home in Ropesville, Lewis hails from Hereford, and Hofstetter recently moved Portales, N.M. to just outside Lubbock, near New Deal.
For Lubbock rodeo fans, it’s a chance to see area stars that they’re used to cheering for on the NFR’s nationally televised broadcasts in December.
“That’s even more special because they’re part of this Lubbock community,” Cox said, “and here they are taking their time to be in our rodeo and they live here. The fact they go to an average of 80 rodeos a year and they’re making us one of them feels pretty good.”
Hofstetter and two-time NFR bareback rider Matt Bright from Azle said they planned to use the Lubbock rodeo for credit toward their circuit standings. In addition to the chase for the NFR, the PRCA has 12 regional circuits. That way, cowboys who can compete only closer to home still can earn points toward a circuit final and, ultimately, the National Circuit Finals Rodeo. The NCFR is this weekend in Oklahoma City.
Bright, who lives in Azle, said that’s why he competed Thursday in Lubbock.
“I live in Texas,” he said, “so you’ve got to go to so many rodeos in the state of Texas to qualify for the Texas Circuit Finals. I’ve always done good at (stock contractor) Bennie Beutler’s rodeos.
“This rodeo’s not but about four hours from the house, and it’s got a pretty decent little amount (of prize money) added. It chalks up there as one of my favorites to go to to get my circuit count, because you can win a thousand dollars out of here if you win first, and it counts toward your rodeo count, so it all works together.”
The ABC Rodeo committee doesn’t recruit entrants, but Cox said the event’s reputation built over 70 years helps.
There are a lot of options for cowboys to choose from. This weekend, in addition to the rodeo in Lubbock and the ones in Arizona and Graham, the PRCA web site shows rodeos in Huntsville, Beaumont, Atlantic City, N.J., Fargo, N.D. and Nashville, Ga.
So the big names who pick Lubbock could have chosen to be somewhere else.
“It makes it more exciting,” Hofstetter said. “It’s always fun to get NFR guys there.”
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