Giddy Up

The top cowboys and cowgirls from four western states will be competing in the Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo Association (GCPRA) 2019 Finals held at the Mojave Crossing Event Center across the Colorado River from the Avi Resort & Casino on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8-9. This marks the eighth consecutive year the finals have been staged at the Mojave Crossing Center, an indoor venue that makes the wind and unpredictable area weather of no consequence to bulls, horses, riders or spectators.
The Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Association is based in Arizona, producing approximately 30 rodeos a year in the area between Southern California, all of Arizona, New Mexico, and into Colorado.
The GCPRA has around 600 members, many of whom are also members in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA).
The finals held at the Mojave Crossing Event Center are the association’s marquee event where champions are crowned and rewarded as determined by the total amount of money earned over the entire year.
To qualify for the finals, contestants have to be in the top 15 in their event and have to be in good standing. Not all events will have 15 competitors.
Once finalists in each of the events have been determined, they compete for thousands in cash and prizes at the finals. So with about 140 contestants entered in all of the events, in two go-rounds at the finals on both Friday and Saturday, some contestants will leave the event with quite a bit of folding money. That purse often includes added money totaling more than $39,000 and additional prizes.
The Avi Resort & Casino is the event’s host hotel for the go-round buckle presentation, the year-end award dinner and banquet and room accommodations.
In addition to money, these competitors are going for year-end trophy saddles and buckles designed by Shea Fisher. All finals contestants receive an event jacket.
The rosters of competitors in the finals over the years have included some of the best ropers and riders in the industry who have also qualified for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas (NFR).
The best in the business isn’t limited to cowboys and cowgirls because whatever honors they receive and achieve, they don’t earn them alone. Some of the horses they ride, along with the bulls and broncs they try to cover, are celebrities in their own right.
Those competing in the rough stock events (bull riding, bareback and saddle bronc riding) are paired with some of the best animals in the business. A horse or bull that loves to buck makes a cowboy look good, but he doesn’t make it look easy. That’s where a rider has to use his skill and his ability to outthink what the animal is going to do to stay on until that 8-second buzzer. So it only makes sense to bring livestock from top stock rodeo contractors — Honeycutt Rodeo Co., V Heart Rodeo Company, Slash M Rodeo Company and W/A Rodeo Company.
Keeping the cowboys safe in the arena will be clown/barrelman Bert Davis. The SASI Girls Drill Team will also be performing at both shows.
This year in addition to rodeo performances, area kindergarten-third grade students will get the opportunity to participate in rodeo events and learn about the sport Friday, Nov. 8 (8 a.m.-10 a.m.). The children will meet GCPRA finals contestants, Davis will be there to entertain, and the kids will try their hands at stick horse barrel racing, dummy roping, face painting and have their photos taken with rodeo royalty.
Rodeo performances are on Friday (7 p.m. AZ; 6 p.m. NV) and Saturday (2 p.m. AZ; 1 p.m. NV). Doors open one hour before the rodeo starts.
Friday is Patriotic Night, so both competitors and spectators are encouraged to wear red, white and blue. Saturday night is First Responder Night, so wear black and blue to show support.
Monies won by competitors in the Friday-Saturday Finals will be combined with the monies won going into this event to crown the year-end champion as well as the Finals Champion.
The awards will be presented at a banquet held in the Avi Grand Ballroom on Saturday night (7 p.m. AZ; 6 p.m. NV). Trophy saddles will also be awarded at the banquet.
The banquet is open to the public and tickets are $22 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the Avi Box Office, or at the door of the Avi Grand Ballroom on Saturday night.
Spectator tickets start at $10 general admission, $15 reserved seating, and $25 Gold Buckle seating, and they are available at the Avi Box Office, or by visiting avicasino.com.
Barbecue platters, with a choice of ribs ($17), pork steaks ($16), half chickens, ($15) or cheeseburgers ($12); served with cowboy beans, corn on the cob, and corn bread, can be purchased on site at the rodeo grounds. Dasani water, assorted sodas, beer and wine also will be served on site.
The barbecue will be available Friday, Nov. 8 beginning at 4 p.m. AZ time; 3 p.m. NV time. Event doors open at 6 p.m. AZ time; 5 p.m. NV time; and Saturday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. AZ time; 10 a.m. NV time. Event doors open at 1 p.m. AZ time; noon NV time.
There’s also a concession stand inside the event area selling burgers, hot dogs, chicken wraps, snacks, breakfast foods and more.


GRAND CANYON PRO RODEO FINALS

Mojave Crossing Event Center (across the river from the Avi)

Friday, Nov. 8 (7 p.m. AZ time); Saturday, Nov. 9 (2 p.m. AZ time)

See “Showtimes” for ticket info