The Grays Harbor Mounted Posse’s annual indoor rodeo started off the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association season in a big way last weekend in Elma. Almost 300 competitors from all over the Northwest traveled to the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds to compete and the show did not disappoint from the first bareback ride to the last bull ride.
It wasn’t just competitors from other parts of the state exciting the crowd, but several competitors from Grays Harbor County got a chance to perform in front of the hometown fans.
For Maddie Spencer of Elma, it was her second straight weekend competing at the fairgrounds. She won first place in barrel racing as part of the Elma equestrian team two weeks ago and on Friday she was back in the saddle for another run around the clover-leaf pattern. Spencer placed 15th at the Mounted Posse rodeo last year, but her horse, Shorty, suffered an injury and hasn’t been healthy for the past 11 months. The equestrian meet was the first week back for Shorty and Spencer could not have been more pleased with her performance on the big stage last week.
“Finally, she is back and I am so happy,” Spencer said. “14.7 is pretty darn good on my radar.”
Spencer had the chance to take part in much more of the rodeo than just the barrel racing as she was a member of the rodeo court. Spencer served alongside Queen Hannah Strickland, and fellow princesses Makenzie Carson and Raelene Darnell doing everything from taking tickets to riding a sponsor flag around the arena. All three days made for a series of unforgettable moments for Spencer.
“It was an amazing experience,” Spencer said. “The whole crowd and just all the little kids looking up to you and even the adults know who I am. It is the coolest thing ever.”
The rodeo drew a crowd of more than 1,000 people each night with a capacity crowd of 1,500 people on Saturday. The 2014 edition of the rodeo drew approximately 100 people more than 2013, but Mounted Posse captain Marvin Cole said the growth of the crowd size is limited by the facility.
“We can’t get any more people in the seats,” Cole said. “We had to turn away about 150 people on Saturday because we didn’t have seats for them. We have had nothing but compliments of everyone who was there. Everybody had fun. We had over 200 kids in our stickhorse race on Sunday.”
During the performance on Saturday the posse was given a plaque for being named NPRA rodeo of the year for events with under $500 added money by the participants. It was the second straight year the event has received the honor.
None of the Grays Harbor competitors were able to finish in the money. The individual who had the closest drive home with the biggest paycheck was Anna Baker of Rochester who finished with a time of 14.20 seconds in the barrel racing competition and a prize of $1,305.
One of the events that is always sure to get almost everyone in the audience to the edge of the seats is bull riding, which is saved for the last event of the night. While the crowd gets an adrenaline rush outside of the arena, Cody Messerle got his rush of excitement from being inside the arena as one of two bull fighters that worked all three days.
Messerle grew up riding sheep and worked his way up to bulls, but last year he decided he could hang the rope up and call it a career from on top of the bulls and try to make a career jumping in front of them.
“It is just like any other job,” Messerle said. “It is something you enjoy doing. I like knowing that it is me risking my life for my friends to make it home to see their families. As long as they are home safely, whether I break my leg or my face I don’t care as long as they are fine. Once I figured out that I could get out in front of bulls better than I could get out over top of bulls it was just I enjoy making sure everybody goes home safely.”
The Prineville, Ore., cowboy took to the arena each day with a chest protector, football cleats, red paint on each cheek and a big smile on his face. He gave a bull named “Sippin’ Whiskey” a stiff arm to the face on Friday night and was chased up a gate by another bull on Saturday. He broke several bones riding bulls, but he hasn’t had an injury that pain reliever can’t fix since he’s been fighting bulls and leaving Elma all in one piece made it a good weekend.
“It is a good time,” Messerle said. “I like when they are electric. I love feeding off the electricity. This is a pretty good rodeo.”