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barrel racing
Chantelle Simonsen practices for the opening ceremony of the Outlaw Bronc Riding Support the Troops event at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Horse Palace.

ELKO — The event began as a simple concept — to put on a themed barrel racing event at the Horse Palace in Spring Creek.

Last year, the outlaw bronc riding event on Halloween was Bikini Barrel Racing, but for this year’s event, organizers wanted a more tailored theme. Lisa Bertalotto, owner of Moon Creek Saddles and Tack, got involved with the event and started brainstorming ideas with Outlaw Bronc Riding promoter Jess Jones.

The theme emerged — Outlaw Bronc Riding to support the troops.

The event this year is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Horse Palace in Spring Creek and centers around supporting the troops overseas.

There are multiple facets to the event’s theme, which snowballed to encompass many aspects of supporting the troops.

The event began to take shape when Elko resident Elaine Simonsen’s son Brandon was deployed to Afghanistan four weeks ago. Simonsen has been barrel racing since she was a young girl, even being named Silver State Stampede Rodeo Queen.

Her family also has a long-standing involvement with the military. Her father was in the military, on a Special Forces unit and her brother was an active serviceman during Desert Storm/Desert Shield.

The history of serving this country was not new for her family.

“My son always wanted to be a marine growing up and when he graduated high school two years ago he signed up with the Marines,” Simonsen said.

Brandon Simonsen graduated from boot camp Feb. 13, 2009. When Simonsen attended her son’s graduation, she was overwhelmed with pride to see him as a successful squad leader.

“We were so excited and so proud of him for what he did,” Simonsen said. “We were bawling, we couldn’t believe it, it was like going to see a rock star. There were 3,000 of us standing there screaming, just to see them in unison, move as one, work as one, you will get goose bumps.”

When Simonsen found out about the tribute to the military, she felt compelled to be a part of it and honor her son’s accomplishments in some way.

As part of the tribute, Simonsen was asked to pack the American flag and her daughter, Chantelle, whose boyfriend is currently serving in the Navy, was asked to hold the flag representing the POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association. Part of the proceeds for the bronc riding event will go to benefit this organization.

“There are a lot of military connections and this is the feel and the emotion that we want,” Bertalotto said.

The opening ceremony on Saturday night is solely dedicated to those serving in the military.

A sergeant with the National Guard Armory is taking charge of the flag presentation, according to Bertalotto. A member of the POW/MIA association will pack a flag on foot that represents every branch of the military.

All uniformed personnel are asked to wear their uniforms, stand behind their division’s flag and be a part of the ceremony, she said. All military personnel will get into the event free of charge.

Everyone in attendance is asked to don something in camouflage for the event as many of the riders will also be wearing camouflage apparel.

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The dress is particularly important. In addition to the tribute to the troops theme, local film maker Bob Davis will shoot the event and produce a DVD to be sent overseas to the troops, particularly Simonsen’s son’s platoon.

“It will be a surprise for him,” Simonsen said. Additional copies of the DVD will be sold and proceeds will benefit the POW/MIA association.

The mini-film is a thank you to the troops and a way to let them know everyone here is supporting them.

“I think it’s great and gives us a chance and opportunity to express our appreciation to the young men and women serving and protecting us. I feel honored to be able to participate in something, especially as unique as this and I encourage other businesses out there to do something to express it in their own way,” Davis said.

Anyone interested in sending a message to troops overseas, contact Bob Davis at 738-8128.

Davis is filming the video footage free of charge. However, they are still looking to raise funds for video editing. Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Jess Jones at 340-1836.

The event this year features bronc riding, team roping, women’s steer stopping and women’s barrel racing. The steer stopping portion is co-sanctioned with the Ranch Rodeo Association and girls who rope at the event are eligible to rope at the ranch rodeo finals.

Jones said this event is made possible through the support of numerous sponsors, including the Elko Federal Credit Union, Mach Four Construction, Remington Construction, Silver State Stampede, Elko Tool and Fastener, Ruby Mountain Finance, Allie Bear Real Estate, Road Hog Barbecue, Stockman’s Supply and the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority.

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