WALLA WALLA — One of the best fields in recent years will assemble at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds arena this week for the annual Frontier Days Rodeo.
The riding and roping begins bright and early Tuesday morning with a full session of slack competition in the three timed events — tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling. The first gate is scheduled to be pulled at 7 a.m.
�Once the first go-around in the timed events is completed, attention will turn to the rodeo’s three nightly performance. Bull riders and bareback bronc and saddle bronc riders as well as women’s barrel racers will join the fun Friday through Sunday nights beginning at 7.
Frontier Days always draws a majority of the top cowboys on the PRCA tour, and if this year it is an exception, it’s because the percentages are even better than the norm.
Eight of the top 10 cowboys in the current all-around standings will be in the arena, including Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, who has already earned more than $200,000 to lead the way. Clint Robinson of Spanish Fork, Utah, who is second in the standings, albeit nearly $100,000 behind Brazile, is also headed to Walla Walla.
Brazile, who’s reported earning so far this year are $200,643, has pocketed nearly half of his bankroll ($97,782), in the tie-down roping event, where he is also No. 1 in the standings. Brazile also ranks third in the team roping header standings with earnings of $75,506.
The top nine tie-down ropers in the world standings will all appear in this week’s Frontier Days, and the event will also feature the top nine headers and eight of the top 10 heelers in team roping. Chad Masters of Clarksville, Tenn., is the heading leader with $114,492 in the bank and Jade Corkill of Fallon, Nev., leads all heelers with $105,120 in earnings.
J.W. Harris of May, Texas, is No. 1 in the PRCA bull riding standings with total earnings of $158,427. He heads up a field of bull riders that includes seven of the top 10 in the standings.
In saddle broncs, Jesse Kruse of Great Falls, Mont., is No. 1 with earnings of $115,361, and nine of the first 10 riders in the standings are entered here. And in bareback bronc riding, seven of the top 10 will be on hand, led by world leader Clint Cannon of Walker, Texas, who has already banked $162,004.
The only No. 1 cowboy who won’t be in Walla Walla this week is Curtis Cassidy of Donalda, Alberta, Canada, who is the leader in the steer wrestling event with a bankroll of $95,331. But eight of the next nine in the bulldogging standings will compete, led by Jake Rinehart of Highmore, S.D., who ranks No. 2 with total earnings of $88,587.
Steer wrestling is also an event with a strong local flavor.
Buster Barton, the Walla Walla Community College rodeo coach, is entered in the event as are Tony Currin of Dayton and the Taruscio brothers, B.J., who still lives in Walla Walla, and Travis, who now has a Stanfield, Ore., address.
Another event with plenty of local talent is women’s barrel racing. It’s also an event that is led by Brittany Pharr of Victoria, Texas, who tops the standings with $135,503. She and eight other barrel racers who rank in the top 10 are headed this way.
Courtney Frazier and Kim Kammendzin of Touchet, Jaclyn Culham and Julie Rugg Williams of Athena, Kelli Currin of Dayton and Natalie Deking of Burbank are barrel racers from the immediate area who will compete this weekend in Walla Walla.
The Palmer brothers of Milton-Freewater have also entered Frontier Days, Brock in tie-down roping and Bryce in team roping. And Dustin Mulroney of Pomeroy will compete in the bareback bronc event.
Contestants will be competing for $42,000 in added prize money.
Growney Brothers Rodeo Company of Red Bluff, Calif., is the stock contractor; Steve Kenyon of Pendleton will serve as the rodeo announcer; J.J. Harrison of Walla Walla is the scheduled barrel man; Rowdy Barry and Ryan Wilson of Kennewick are the bull fighters; and the One Arm Bandit Gang of Oklahoma is the special attraction.
Admission is $10 per nightly performance and does not include gate admission to the fairgrounds. Tuesday’s slack is free of charge.