Cowboys turn out in full force for Fort Armstrong rodeo
Sandy Cullen, president of the Fort Armstrong Horsemen's Association, noted that there are wannabe cowboys — with their clean, Western shirts — and real cowboys — with their scuffed and dirty boots.
Both kinds of cowboys turned out in full force on Friday evening for the opening of the 18th annual Fort Armstrong Championship Rodeo at Crooked Creek Horse Park in Manor Township.
The rodeo continues today with sanctioned bareback riding, saddle bronc, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping and barrel racing.
And it seems that this Western tradition has been attracting record crowds, according to Cullen.
Last year's rodeo broke attendance records, with more than 5,200 cowboys and cowgirls coming through the gate.
Organizers were expecting 3,500 on Friday night and another big crowd this evening, because the weather forecast is so favorable.
“Everybody likes a rodeo,” said Cullen.
Yet there aren't many of them.
Fort Armstrong and North Washington's rodeos are the only two such events in the region, she said.
Participants came from mostly Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
“I love it; it's an adrenaline rush,” said Kim Buchleitner, 48, of New Bethlehem, who will compete in barrel racing, which requires expert horsemanship to maneuver the equine athletes around barrels.
Buchleitner will ride with a young cohort, Aubrie Copenhaver, 13, also of New Bethlehem, who has been riding since she was 8 years old.
“It's so exciting,” said Copenhaver Friday evening as she prepared for the main events.
It's still exciting for longtime rodeo owner Sam Swearingen of Piffard, N.Y., who owns Rawhide Rodeo Co.
Fort Armstrong is one 30 sanctioned professional rodeo shows in 26 weeks in the northeastern United States for Rawhide.
A former saddle bronc rider, Swearingen, 53, said, “It's still a family event, bull riding being the most popular.”
But some things have changed over the years, according to Swearingen.
“The cowboys and cowgirls take better care of their bodies,” he said. “They worry about their rest, and they do exercise programs.”
Bareback rider Tyler Waltz, 23, of Jersey Shore, Pa., said that he works with a trainer and lifts weights.
“With bareback riding, the strength comes from the core,” Waltz said.
“I love it, and it's great to be on the road and see different parts of the country every week,” he said.
Wade “Stumpy” Hazlet, 32, of Slippery Rock, loves being a bull fighter.
He works at rodeos throughout the summer, saving the bull riders when they fall off.
Hazlet has learned to read the body language of the bulls, “watching the lead foot. If the bull's left leads, the bull moves left,” he said.
Hazlet also dismissed a common myth: The color red does not enrage bulls.
“They are color blind,” he said. “Movement catches their attention.”
Hazlet said of Friday night's festivities, “They've got some buckers that are nasty.”
And that pleases Scott Richardson, 25, of McDonald, a bull rider.
“Every day I'm getting onto a bull is a good day,” he said.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Arnold man to stand trial in overdose death
- Pittsburgh Street in Springdale to close April 10
- South Butler school officials to draw on survey
- ‘I-Run Days’ helps promote student fitness, self-esteem
- Winfield Road work pushed back by PennDOT
- GOP candidates for Butler County commissioner call for civility
- Harmar eagles abandon their nest
- Battle of Fawn fire departments heats up
- Allegheny Township dentist to help those in need on mission trip to Belize
- Apollo to assess owners of vacant properties
- Vandergrift Sons of America gives back to the community