Pretty Prairie brings in the best

Alice Mannette
Riley Duvall from Checotah, Okla., competes in the steer wrestling competition during slack events Tuesday morning at the Pretty Prairie Rodeo.

Since before World War II, in 1936, there has been a rodeo in Pretty Prairie, Kansas. Known as Kansas Largest Night Rodeo, the rodeo in this rural Kansas town has hosted many greats. But this year, because of COVID-19, more high-profile contestants threw their hat in the ring.

With an entry of more than 550 contestants, Pretty Prairie doubled their roster - and brought in world-ranked contestants.

“Folks, we’re showing you the greats in our world tonight,” Randy Corley, Pretty Prairie’s rodeo announcer said. Corley, a 37-year veteran is a rodeo great himself, having announced at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 16 times. This 12-time ’Announcer of the Year’ brought enthusiasm, laughter and a whole lot of knowledge to the arena.

Corey, who started out bareback and bull riding before he became an announcer, was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2017.

So when Corey announces the contestants, he knows what he’s talking about. The list of million-dollar winners and worldwide champions who are attending this year’s event is long.

“We’ve got a great list of cowboys and cowgirls out here,” Corey told the crowd. “Boudreaux Campbell is among the top three bull riders.”

In addition to Campbell, Riley Duvall, a steer wrestler from Checotah, Oklahoma, showed up with his Palomino. Duvall helped haze for other cowboys.

“I like to help them,” Duvall said. “If they win, they pay me. I’d much rather be on a hazing horse than standing around.”

Duvall said being a part of the rodeo is like being in a fraternity. Standing at nine in the world, Duvall said competition is great, but, “we always help each other out.”

A bull rider from Mackay, Australia, Ky Hamilton, is one of the top four in the world. After his successful bull ride at Pretty Prairie, Corey quipped with him.

Emily Miller, a barrel racer who had a high score of 16.72 on Wednesday evening, is from Weatherford, Oklahoma. She placed at five out of 10 rounds at the Wrangler NFR.

Jace Melvin of South Dakota and Jule Hazen of Ashland, Kansas and the Dorenkamp’s of Colorado are some of the top steer wrestlers who appeared on Wednesday evening.

Many others have competed or will compete throughout the event.

Hunter Herrin from Apache, Oklahoma has ridden professionally since 2004. After qualifying for nationals nine times, Herrin is an old hand at tie-down roping. On Tuesday, he rode Rambo, his 17-year-old American Quarter Horse. But this ride was different. This was one of Herrin’s first competition’s since he had hip surgery three years ago.

Each day is different, even if you are a top contestant. Having to rely on not only yourself but an animal makes it a difficult sport.

“It can be easy one day and not the next,” he said. “It’s a work in progress.”

Hunter Herrin from Apache, Okla., ropes a steer in the tie-down roping competition during slack events Tuesday morning at the Pretty Prairie Rodeo.