It might have seemed fitting this year that a Fallon team would win the Ranch Hand Rodeo now in its seventh year as a staple at the fairgrounds, as the Tommy Lee Livestock team captured first in the weekend competition.
Richard Allegre, founder of the rodeo, has known Lee and his team for years and couldn’t have been happier with the rodeo either way despite a less than average fan turnout.
“It was great,” Allegre said. “The turnout was amazing. We had 20 teams so the contestants were happy with it. The spectators, I don’t think there were as many but overall it was a great rodeo and everybody had a lot of fun.”
Lee — along with teammates Wade Hofheins, Jake Ward and Kevin Hancock — returned this year after making it as far as second place in the Western States Rodeo Association Finals in Winnemucca last November, and have a second chance at winning come this November since this weekend was their last qualifying rodeo. Nobody can say the seasoned foursome hadn’t earned it with competitors such as three time National Finals Rodeo team-roping champion Jade Corkill there, Corkill, a Fallon native, and his foursome from Mustang Ranch consisting of fellow native Darrel Norcutt along with Billy Fanks from Susanville, Calif., and Round Mountain’s Chance Kretschner came in second by a difference of six points.
“There were some tough teams there,” Allegre said. “Both the men and womens teams were very competitive this year. It was close between some of them, too.”
Tomme Lee Livestock walked away with four buckles and a cash prize after a dominating performance throughout the weekend, particularly on Saturday night.
“They were the first place team in team-roping and the first place team in sorting, so they are handy team-ropers and there is no doubt about it,” Allegre said.
Lee, who has been competing with the rodeo since it began, said he is looking forward to November with the same team returning for another shot.
“We all get along good and we’ve known each other a long time, so it was great,” Lee said on this weekend and last year at the WSRA Finals. “That was the first time we ever won and just last year was the first time we ever went. We had a good time last year and I’m sure we’re going to have a good time this year.”
Each of Lee’s team including himself get plenty of practice time as individuals,though, little as a team, but this doesn’t worry Lee with the championships on the horizon. The weekend gave the foursome very little trouble in any event but the trailer loading, though, Lee said the competition he received was great, especially from Corkill.
“It was a great time,” Lee said. “They all roped good. We’re all buddies and friends who have known each other our whole lives.”
Allegre’s best night in terms of fan turnout, he said, was the kids rodeo night Friday that saw 50 youth competitors and the biggest crowd of the weekend.
“All the kids enjoyed it and the parents too,” he said. “There were quite a few people on Friday night who were there to enjoy the boot scramble and the calf undecorating and the mutton busting and it was great. All the kids had a good time and each contestant got an award even if they didn’t place.”
This year was only the second year with a kids night with the 2-12 and 5-7 year age groups averaging the most kids. Trista Kelly from Wadsworth won the junior boot scramble followed by Garret Barrington and Stix Lee. Fallon’s own Paisly Star took first in the mutton busting competition while Colby Corkill, Jade Corkill’s younger brother, took second followed by Junior Kelly, Trista Kelly’s older brother.
The goat branding competition brought the kids together in impromptu teams where Dante Cerini, Garrett Berrington and his brother Wyatt Berrington took first, followed by the team of Clayton Hiibel, Stix Lee and Caleb Edgemond.
The team of Trista and Junior Kelly alongside Nakoa Love took third.
“This year was a few more but I think it’s going to grow once more people figure out it’s going on and when they realize we’re hosting different age groups,” Allegre said. “It’s not like I’m hosting a junior rodeo which is for the younger group and the contestants who come from out of town. It was a family oriented evening and a fun thing. Teams mixed the kids into impromptu teams and it was a lot of fun for them.”
Though the lower turnout on Saturday and Sunday was a slight blow, Allegre is sticking to his guns and said next year will be like this one with the exception in advertising.
“I think a lot of people tend to add bull and bronc riding, but it’s too expensive to get all that livestock and manage it here,” he said. “A lot of the teams don’t really want to ride so it’s not an event they have to do. Last year we did try it and with only four people who signed up for the bronc riding, it wasn’t worth it.”