A record gate and more than 2000 spectators combined with a $40,000 prize purse to make the 2019 Narrandera Rodeo one of the best yet.
Held on February 23, the rodeo was officially opened by Narrandera Shire Council Mayor Neville Kschenka and drew competitors from along the eastern seaboard.
Several riders flew from Whittlesea to Narrandera to compete at both events on the same day.
Narrandera Rodeo president Ron “Blue” Absolom said this year’s gate topped the $27,000 of 2018 by over $1200, with the event attracting more than 2000 spectators from as far as Dubbo, Wollongong and Victoria.
“The canteen sold out of food, the bar went well and the weather was perfect,’’ Mr Absolom said. “The new lighting system worked well, creating a great spectacle for the action at night.
“Our Mayor remarked it was one of the best rodeo grounds in the Riverina in his opening speech, and the event is one of the longest running in NSW.
“We had many riders compete in the slack events in the morning and go onto Whittlesea in the afternoon.’’
Following the success of the event, the committee is now looking to stage a bigger and better event in 2020. Members are asking for spectator input on the possibility of including new events such as comedy rodeo clown and a local poddy calf ride.
In a highlight for the evening, Dylan Weir won the $1000 chute out bull ride supported by long time sponsors Roy and Bob Baul. Wagga’s Sean Lynch had the crowd on the edge of their seats with his 91 point score to win the open bull ride from Troy Cross on 87 points.
In the bareback, Lukas Wilkinson won in a close competition on 74 points over Ben Hall on 72 points. Ben, of Tumbarumba, competed at both Narrandera and Whittlesea rodeos on the same day, keen to chase points for the national standings.
Tom Kerr led the saddle bronc on 81 points, narrowly winning over Allan Powell on 80 points. Campbell Hodson won the rope and tie in 10.15 seconds, ahead of Shane Kenny on 11.15 seconds. Rod Thorpe won the steer wrestling in a time of 3.31 seconds, with Rinsie Jamieson in second on 4.45 seconds.
Terry Evison (header) and M Wilkinson (heeler) took out the team roping on 6.00, while in second place was G Perkins (header) and C Heath (heeler) on 6.6 seconds.
South Australian rider Candy Michaels won the open barrel race in a time of 17.703 seconds with Elysa Kenny right on her heels to take second place on 17.784 seconds.
Elysa lined up for the junior barrel race to win in a blistering 16.937 seconds to outclass Ellie Gard on 17.101 seconds. She then moved on to take out the junior breakaway on 4.05 seconds over Madi Wilkinson in second place on 4.7 seconds.
Dusty McPhee won the breakaway roping on 2.65 seconds and runner up was Georgie Kapeller on 2.9 seconds. Tom Ings dominated the junior steer ride on 76 points with Cooper Hoale taking second place on 72 points.
The Australian Professional Rodeo Association presented an award on the night to photographer David Ethell in recognition of his many years of commitment to the sport.
Ron “Blue” Absolom said funds raised at the event would be donated to CanAssist, Cypress Centre, Soroptimists, Rotary, junior rugby league and Australian Rules football clubs, and Red Cross.
Mr Absolom said repairs would now be made to the arena and stock yards for next year. He said a combination of drought and wind had made it difficult for dust control on the grounds this year.
“For next year, we have the option of either going to February 22 or 29, as we don’t want to clash with Whittlesea again,’’ he said.
The next two months will go a long way to shaping the standings leaders this season with three rodeos on the March long weekend in Victoria and 11 on the Easter long weekend. The long weekend rodeos are at Kyabram, Merrijig and Chiltern. Deniliquin and Barooga have rodeos in NSW at Easter and there are four rodeos in Victoria – Great Western, Omeo, Buchan and Lang Lang.