I witnessed something really special a couple of weeks ago (Saturday July, 17) at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs—the Induction Ceremony for the “class” of 2010. This event was about as heartfelt and genuine as you can imagine. To see these cowboys get honored by their peers was almost like sitting in on a private family affair. Tears and laughter rang out with every speech. Here are some notes I typed on my Blackberry that I finally got around to transcribing:
– Grant Adkisson of the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys opened the morning opened with a prayer: “We often ask you for help and you do. Today we just want to thank you.” Then the clear-voiced Susie Dobbs belted out a rousing rendition of the national anthem.
– Karl Stressman, CEO of the PRCA, welcomed the crowd. “We endure the winters and trudge through the snow in Colorado for beautiful mornings like this.” And it was. Blue skies and hot.
– The rodeo queens from nearly every state were on hand in their cowgirl finery (leather dresses!). Kelli Jackson, Miss Rodeo America 2010, presented each inductee with his HOF belt buckle. While Rob Smets, himself a HOF inductee for bullfighting, introduced each man.
– John McBeth (saddle bronc rider) went first and mentioned being proud to be inducted with other cowboys from “his era” (60s, 70s, and 80s). About his wife, he graciously said, “Without her, I would be nothing.” About being forced to quit rodeoing, he got some laughs for blaming his parents: Mother Nature and Father Time.
– Rex “Mr. Smooth” Dunn (bullfighter) said this “is all a dream.” And summed up his acceptance speech by saying, “I’ve forgotten more good times than most people have in a lifetime.”
– Paul Mayo (bareback rider) related how the famous Life magazine cover of Casey Tibbs in 1951 got him and his brothers interested in rodeo. He competed in the arena for 20 years and innovated the “Mayo style” (lying flat across the bronc back) of bareback riding widely used today. Mayo also credited his success to rawhide handholds and the “wedge” for helping him succeed. He made the crack of the day about “fat-ass” rodeo judges that had the audience rolling.
– Denny Flynn (Notable/Lifetime Achievement) told a hilarious, rambling story about fighting his brother to be the first to read the latest rodeo standings in the Sports News when it arrived in the mail. It involved a rock, blood, and passion for rodeo. He concluded by saying that his mother (who had to mediate the many fights) is “reading the sports News on the front porch of heaven.”
– Bennie Beutler (stock contractor)—after complaining that his family wouldn’t let him have a bloody marry before going on stage—told “wild west” stories about the other four inductees. About stock contracting, he said: “If you’re not changing and going forward, you’re going backward.” About his better half he thanked her and said, “We couldn’t buy a box of toothpicks in the early 80s, but you taught school and raised the kids so we could get by.”