There will be big names and big money this week at the Jackson County Fairgrounds.

There will be big names and big money this week at the Jackson County Fairgrounds.

The 2009 Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo, which runs Today through Saturday, will bring nine Top 10 nationally ranked cowboys, and 17 in the Top 20, to the Rogue Valley.

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event offers a $5,000 purse in each of the seven competitions.

"You're going to see some of the best riders in the U.S., who will also compete in the national rodeo finals," said Chris Borovansky, the Jackson County Fairgrounds CEO.

The Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo, the third largest rodeo in Oregon, is making its second showing in May after it was held for 25 years in October. The change in date better coincides with the PRCA points race as the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is held in December.

Many riders found the October date too late to make a surge in the point standings before nationals.

"The spring dates mean that all money won by cowboys goes to qualifying for the national finals," said Melissa Damon, event coordinator.

This year's field is considered the most talented in the history of the event, which includes bull riding, saddle-bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, tie-down roping and team roping.

Cody Wright, the 2008 World Champion saddle bronc rider, joins the list of entrants in a very competitive field. Jesse Kruse, currently ranked No. 2 in the nation, Dusty Hausauer (No. 6), Cody Taton (No. 9) and Justin Arnold (No. 10) will all vie for the saddle bronc title. Wright is currently ranked No. 15 and will compete today.

Bobby Mote of Culver is the highest ranked bareback rider. Mote won the 2007 PRCA bareback title, and he'll also compete today. Kaycee Field (No. 4) and Tilden Hooper (No. 10) are also among competitors in the bareback riding event.

Second-ranked Luke Branquinho is the favorite in steer wrestling while seventh-ranked Charly Crawford of Prineville tops the list of entrants in team roping.

Area riders include Mert Bradshaw of Eagle Point, Travis Walsh of Eagle Point, Mark Nonella of Klamath Falls, Jeremy Crume of Grants Pass, and CJ Crum of Grants Pass. Female riders include Kelly Barker of Central Point and Katie Qualls of Grants Pass.

Gates open each day at 5:30 p.m. and action begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at all PremierWest Bank locations, except in the Rogue Valley Manor, Sherm's Thunderbird, Food 4 Less, Big R in White City and Cowboy Corral in Grants Pass.

Tickets for Thursday, also Breast Cancer Awareness Day, are $13 in advance and $15 at the gate for adults. Children 12 and under are $6 in advance and $7 at the door. Friday admission, and Saturday general admission seating, is $14 in advance and $16 at the door. Reserved seating, only available for Saturday's performance, is $16 in advance and $18 at the door.

Reach reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail landrews@mailtribune.com