Cowboy Shop Classic 2016
Around 1968 on Franklin street in Pinedale. Photo courtesy Bing family.
by Terry Allen
August 31, 2016
The Pinedale Rodeo Grounds was the site of the 17th Annual Cowboy Shop Classic Roping Invitational this past Sunday, August 28, 2016. 440 teams competed for prizes and Bob Bing said it was the biggest turnout since it started in 1990. "In 1990, which was our first year, a gal won the top prize which was a saddle," he said. "This year we are awarding two saddles, one each to the top two finishers."
The Cowboy Shop was established by Bobís folks in 1947 and has remained in the same location. "Dad tended bar and Mother was a school teacher for 30 years," he said. "They hired a lady to run it during the day, and then they would come in and work the evenings. I started working in the shop full-time in 1975."
It is an invitation-only event and everyone who shows up to compete is required to be in western attire, which is a cowboy hat, a button down shirt, and boots. A couple ropers showed up without hats and learned they had just barely enough time to go down to the store to buy one or find someone with an extra that fit.
Todd Stevie was the guy in charge of the various aspects of the event, including lining up the roping steers, dragging the arena, doing some announcing and doing a bit of auctioneering. A team of folks got things running smoothly, including full-time announcers, record and money keepers, chute openers and steer chasers.
Milt at the Burger Barn must have been in charge over there, because the ladies did the cooking and he did the sitting. But it seemed to work out okay, because it didnít matter if you walked over or rode your horse over, you got your food and I didnít hear any complaints.
Bob said there were no age limits for competitors on either end of the scale. "If you think you can rope, then weíll let you," he said. "I guess today we have a 10 year old and upwards of 75 years old entered."
I was curious about how those 75 year olds would do, so I figured out who they might be and watched them work. Well, once that steer left the chute those old guys were like one with the horse. They shot out of their gate like finely tuned athletes and didnít miss any more steers than anyone elseÖand there were very few misses.
I was curious how fast they were going once the rope settled over the head of the steer and I got a wide range of opinion. One guy I talked with over a beer the night before thought they had to be going around 50 mph. That seemed pretty fast to me, so the next day I asked Todd Stevie what he thought. "Maybe around 20 mph," he said. HmmmÖthat seemed sort of slow to me, so I decided to go to Google and see what those guys said. Turns out, around 40 mph is the answer I liked best. More people were saying it, so I guess Iíll call that science.
I guess I shouldnít have wondered at all. Clayton Lunde told me that Mike Miller still rides broncs in Jackson. "He is 63 and still riding bucking horses," he said. "I think he has rode three or four and got bucked off onceÖand heíll be up there this Wednesday doing it again."
Iím always looking at new ways to take a photo of western people, so I brought an old pre-World War Two medium format film camera, an old 35mm film camera, and my reliable digital street shooter. Bob and Todd said I could tack up a photo back drop on the old shed by the bucking chutes and take natural light pictures of folks. I think it turned out real good. A few friends and friendly people came by and posed, and then a few folks came over with their kids, ponies and horses.
For folks that are reading this story who might not live around here, I just want you to know that these are real western people. They are not actors. I donít know why I get asked about that so often, but I guess might have something to do with folks having a harder time telling the difference between real life and the movies than they used to.
If you have ever wondered how someone gets good at roping...and so good, so young...there is a photo of a group of boys roping a dummy steer at sunset. It was after 7:00pm and I was loaded up and driving out when I saw them. Some of them had been in the saddle under the hot sun and in the dust all day, but here they were still throwing their ropes. That is the secret and it ain't no secret. Just a lot of hard work, practice, loving it and never giving up.
I realize I might be a little light on the actual roping photos, so Iíll post some more in a little while.
A big thank you to The Cowboy Shop for their generous support of this story and photos. We wouldn't have been able to do a full story this year without their sponsorship.
Thank you to Justin at Pinedale Lumber for kindly supplying the plywood I used to make my photo back drops.
The special portraits taken at the ropings will form my exhibit at the Pinedale Library starting October 1.
The photos on this site are low resolution and are not print quality. To purchase high resolution photos, text Terry Allen: 307-231-5355 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Group photo of Legend of Earl Durand movie: Lower right: Bud Steel, Tony Olson, Hank Ruland, Albert Salmi, Leonard Preibe, Bear Steele.
Upper left: Alex Thios, Mike Nystrom, Fred Petersen, Kent Snidecor, Bob Bing, _______?
Guy in middle left: _____?
Photos and story by Terry Allen