ELKO — Despite all the recent complications of gatherings, crowds, and inversely — social distancing — the Jake Eary Memorial Rodeo will still buck, ride and rope on for the 10th straight time.
The annual event — which began in March of 2011 — honors a young cowboy who died way before his time during November of 2010.
Originally, the Jake Eary Memorial Rodeo was held at the Spring Creek Horse Palace but moved to the Elko County Fairgrounds in June 2016 because of the swelling amount of support.
The 10th annual event was slated to take place once again at the Horse Palace, but Eary’s mother — Carrie Eary — said the rodeo was forced to move back to Elko due to the coronavirus.
“We decided to move the rodeo back to the fairgrounds to give people more room and because it’s outside,” she said. “We got a permit from the city and got it cleared through the Fair Board.”
Jackpot team ropings and breakaway ropings — put on by Steele Productions — will be held Friday evening, while the Jake Eary Memorial Rodeo will officially take place Saturday and Sunday.
“We have taken precautions. I’ll hang signs reminding everyone of social distancing, Terry’s (Pumpin & Potties) donated hand-wash stations and (Elko County Fairgrounds Manager) J.T. (Taravella) will have hand-sanitizer machines available,” said Eary.
She also noted that only four to six people will be allowed in the office area at a time with masks available.
Once again, six deserving — yet lucky — contestants will be awarded high-point trophy saddles — scattered across three age groups and two genders.
In the youth division, a saddle will be awarded to the high-point boy and high-point girl — the same ringing true for the junior category.
The open division will consist of a high-point saddle for the both the high-point man and high-point woman of the weekend.
“We are having a raffle for a gun. It’s a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle,” Eary said. “The tickets cost $5 each or five for $20.”
A number of items have been donated and will be sold in a silent-auction format.
In the main arena, two breakaway jackpots will take place — signups at 5 p.m. and ropings starting at 6 p.m. — offering options for ropers of all ages.
A junior breakaway — ages 14 and younger (nobody in high school) — will cost $25 and everyone can enter twice for a two-head average.
An open breakaway — no age limit — will cost $50, ropers can enter twice and will be a three-head average that is progressive after one run.
Team ropings will occur in the back arena on the infield.
According to the ACTRA (American Cowboys Team Roping Association) number system, the first roping will be a No. 6 handicap — time deducted for a lower team number and added for a higher number — costing $100 per roper and using a pick-one, draw-one format.
There will also be a youth roping that costs $20 per person.
Also, a straight-time No. 5-1/2 roping will take place and will cost $40 per person.
The action of the Jake Eary Memorial Rodeo will get underway at 9 a.m. Saturday with the youth branding — a fan favorite — as the next generation of hands embark in competition.
At noon, the slack for the barrel racing, steer stopping, team roping and breakaway roping will occur.
“We added breakaway this year,” Eary said.
Back to the race track at 3 p.m., the mixed branding will take place before the sheep riding across the way in the main arena at 5 p.m.
The first rodeo performance of the Jake Eary Memorial will start at 6 p.m., which will be followed by the slack of the muley team roping.
“We have everything — bareback, saddle bronc, ranch broncs, bulls, ladies steer stopping, open steer stopping, barrels — junior and open — junior team roping, muley roping, breakaway (ladies and junior,)” said Eary.
The ladies steer stopping and the ranch bronc riding are sanctioned by the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association, with $500 money added to the pot of the steer stopping and $1,000 added money for the broncs.
The open branding — some of the best action of the entire rodeo — will begin on the track at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Events for the Peewees — dummy roping and stick-horse barrels — will start at 11 a.m. on the race track.
The second and final rodeo performance will commence at 1 p.m., with the awards and saddle presentations taking place immediately after the rodeo.
A decade later, the loss of ‘Little Jake’ still stings but his memory and legacy remain — the Jake Eary Memorial Rodeo serving as a 10-year reminder that “gone but not forgotten” is much more than a cliché.
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