Gerry Rodeo Kicks Off This Week

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GERRY – The longest running rodeo east of the Mississippi is opening its doors once again this week in Chautauqua County. 

The 76th annual Gerry Rodeo kicks off on Wednesday at 8 p.m. with eight events and a BBQ beef dinner.

Announcer Greg Simas was happy to return to the longstanding tradition given everything that it represents to this country. 

“Rodeo is an American tradition. Rodeo was born and bred from the competitive spirits of the men that tamed the Wild West, the cowboys,” explains Simas. “And so this is America. Right, wrong, or indifferent. Pandemic or not, we live it everyday. So the rodeo never stopped. The entertainment end of rodeo stopped, but the working cowboys, and this continued on in the ranches out west to ranches here in the northeast and the eastern seaboard, they continue to work everyday. They rope calves, they rope steers, and they have to get on their horse everyday in order to live their life. So in essence, the rodeo never stopped.” 

Competitors from over 30 states have travelled to be a part of the rodeo, with some having attended the event for over 35-years.

Tom Atwell, rodeo chairman, explains what rodeo goers will see this week. Atwell is especially excited for the new women’s event, break away roping. 

“They’ll get to see bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing, team roping,” says Atwell. “New this year, we’re bringing ladies break away roping where they rope the calf. But when the calf hits the end of the rope, there’s a string attached to their saddle horn. That string breaks and it stops the clock. And then everyone’s favorite, barrel racing and bull riding.” 

After a year off due to the pandemic, Atwell, who is also a volunteer firefighter, is eager to return to the tradition, as it also serves as a fundraiser for community emergency services. 

“The rodeo, aside from our annual fundraiser, is our only fundraiser for the year,” explains Atwell. “Which buys all of our equipment, supplies we need, keeps the trucks serviced, buys all of our medical supplies. With COVID, we had to restock with a lot of new supplies which we purchased. All that, and this is our way of helping. The community coming here is their way of helping us help them in the very end.” 

General admission tickets are $18 and the gates open at 6 p.m. Wednesday. 


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