Thunderbird back to kick off rodeo season

Randi Tostenrude of Port Orchard competed against nine other people in the breakaway roping competition at last year’s Thunderbird Benefit Pro Rodeo. Co-producer Don Frazier said he expects more top local talent this year. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Randi Tostenrude of Port Orchard competed against nine other people in the breakaway roping competition at last year’s Thunderbird Benefit Pro Rodeo. Co-producer Don Frazier said he expects more top local talent this year.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Some situations are truly a “win-win.”

Just ask Don Frazier.

One of the long time rodeo staples in Kitsap County, Frazier is excited to be back as one of the co-producers of the Second Annual Thunderbird Benefit Pro Rodeo.

As the first Northwest Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned rodeo in the county, Frazier said it works doubly nice that it’s a benefit. The bulk of the proceeds are donated to Corey’s Day on the Farm and the Kitsap County Boys & Girls Club, with a small portion donated to smaller causes as well, like helping send local qualifiers to the national high school finals rodeo.

“That’s 99-percent of it,” Frazier said of the main benefactors. “That’s the reason the rodeo is here, to benefit.”

Everything is going along smoothly so far, Frazier said. Crews are setting up Thunderbird Stadium over the next few days to get ready for Friday’s opener, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday’s contest begins at 7 p.m.

“Everything is just carrying right along,” Frazier said. “I think we’ve got all of our ‘i’s dotted and most of our ‘t’s crossed.”

As far as the rodeo itself, Frazier and co-producers Colen Corey and John Rosebeary are hoping to build on last year’s success. Frazier said tickets are moving well.

“You bet,” Frazier said. “We’ve gotten lots of help from the community. There’s been lots of interest from advertisers. Ticket presales look real good.”

Advance tickets are available at the following locations: Wild Horse BBQ in Poulsbo; Salon 1114 and McCloud’s Saloon in East Bremerton; the Kitsap Mall information booth, Spur Me On and Charly Boots in Silverdale; and Cowpunchers in Port Orchard. Tickets also are available at any branch of Westsound Bank and Mortgage.

Due to rising gas prices, Frazier said the rodeo is relying more on local talent than it did last year, when it drew cowboys and cowgirls from all over the Western U.S. This year, Frazier said some of Oregon’s top rodeo competitors will mainly duke it out with those from Washington, with others intermingled.

“The cowboy count is down a little bit because of diesel prices,” Frazier said, adding that high prices at pumps make the trip almost impossible for some. “But we’ve got a real good lineup of local cowboys. And some of the big shots down in Oregon.”

On Friday, the Thunderbird rodeo is teaming up with WOLF 100.7 to give away a pair of tickets to see Kenny Chesney the following night at Qwest Field. Saturday, he said they’ll host the Buck Off finals, with about 20 competitors going for a top-three placement to earn both a belt buckle and a little prize money on a mechanical bull.

This year’s queen is Lylan Corey, who Frazier said the whole rodeo community is extremely proud of.

“Absolutely. She has done an absolutely wonderful job for herself,” Frazier said of Corey, who is heading to Howard University in Texas on a rodeo-academic scholarship. “She’s been a wonderful representative for rodeo itself and for Corey’s Day on the Farm. I’m really proud of her.”

Tickets for the event, which will also include a Sunday barrel racing session this year, are $10 for general admission, with military ID holders receiving a $2 discount. Entry for kids between 5 and 12 years old will cost $5, while kids 5 and younger are free.

While the event has many sponsors, Westsound Bank is the main sponsor for Friday and Saturday along with McCloud’s Salloon, and National City Mortgage will sponsor Sunday’s barrel racing.

The new barrel racing session will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday with gates open at 7:30. A prize pool of $4,000 added money is at stake.

Kelly Bowcutt’s Gold Buckle Rodeo Company will provide the stock for the event.

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