Best of the Best (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I just got back from the first annual ‘Best of the Best’ invitational calf roping held at the Joplin Regional Stockyards in Joplin, Missouri. They invited the top fifteen NFR qualifiers from 2006, plus six more, roping for a purse of $60,000. Matt Shiozawa won first which paid $26,000. There were two or three guys that won close to $10,000.

This was a well-planned event that was first class all the way. They chartered planes to come pick us all up in the Northwest; then when it was over they flew us all back. The arena was built for this event and seats 7,000 to 8,000 people. With admission at $15 per ticket, there was standing room only. The proceeds benefited Camp Barnabas, a camp for underprivileged children.

The door prizes they gave away were a Chevrolet pick up, a John Deere Gator and a gooseneck stock trailer. The man behind it all is Jackie Moore, whose livestock auction is the second largest in the United States.

Each contestant was sponsored by a business and the event was a ‘Cattle Industry College.’ Guest speakers, including congressmen and senators, spoke on behalf of the beef industry. The planning, preparation and organization was truly amazing.

This was a classy and successful event that made fans of some very affluent folks and promoted our event tremendously. Mr. Moore knew what it took to put on a good show: bring in the best and let them run more than one calf. The cowboys had time to mingle and sign autographs and the fans enjoy making that personal connection.

This year they added $40,000 and have plans to add $150,000 to next year’s event. Jackie would like first place to pay $50,000 next year. Now we’re talking Calgary kind of money. Calgary will be hard to beat because next year it will pay $250,000 to win the roping with the rounds paying $25,000. Events like this take our sport to the next level.

The rodeo season is winding down and it will be pretty hectic for the next few weeks. I’ll rope one a day for the next five days; go home for a couple of days and then have another five-day run.

For any questions or topics you want me to write about, send me an email at strant@aol.com. God Bless, see you down the line.