Eight seconds might seem an eternity atop 2,000 pounds of a bucking and snorting bovine or bareback bronc for most, but for top performers of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, it's in their blood.
The 2016 Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo kicks off Thursday, June 2, and continues Friday and Saturday, June 3-4, in the covered Seven Feathers Event Center at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point. Doors open at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, and rodeo events begin at 7 p.m. Cowboys will compete for more than $74,000 in prize money during the event.
Along with bull and bareback riding, the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo features calf-roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding and barrel racing. The Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo is the home of the only 100-point bull ride in rodeo history, and first place winner of the 2014 and 2015 Justin Boots Best Footing Award, which is given to the rodeo for the safest, most consistent ground conditions to ensure a safe and level playing field for barrel racing contestants and their horses.
The rodeo also features many hands-on activities for kids and adults. The Mutton Bustin’ contest lets kids see who can ride a sheep the longest. In The Boot Race, kids race to find their shoes in the middle of the arena, put them on, and run back for victory. Two Texas Longhorns will be present for photo opportunities.
The McMillan Family Trick Riders are back this year. The Washington state-based group of youngsters will perform nightly at the rodeo. Lynette McMillan, the kids' mother, has four biological and six foster children ranging from 5 to 17 years old. Five of the family began trick riding about seven years ago.
McMillan's mother was a trick rider in the 1940s. She performed at Madison Square Garden and at her ranch in upstate New York. Initially, McMillan's kids were just going to ride at local rodeos, but when they took their act to a bull-riding show, an official recommended they get professionally certified. Now the group tours the U.S. and performs at shows in Arizona, California and Colorado.
Ten-time Northwest Clown of the Year and National Finals Rodeo Clown JJ Harrison, who hails from Walla Walla, Wash., is back at the rodeo this year. A 1998 graduate of Washington State, where he competed on the university's rodeo team, he used his degree in education to work as a middle-school science teacher.
He got his PRCA card in 2006 and has been on the rodeo trail ever since, working rodeos across the nation and building a solid reputation as a consummate pro and quality entertainer. He's a kid at heart, and audiences will notice how he tailors his show to appeal to kids in the audience.
The place to be after Friday's rodeo is the Lithia Amphitheater, where Texas singer, songwriter and guitarist Chase Bryant will perform at 8:30 p.m. Bryant's 2014 debut single, "Little Bit of You," earned a slot in the Top Five on the country music charts. Local country rock band Blowin' Smoke will open the show at 7:30.
Medford country band Billy Lund and Whiskey Weekend will perform Friday after the rodeo in the outdoor Rogue Saloon, adjacent to the arena. The saloon is open during and after the rodeo events, and patrons can watch the rodeo action on large-screen televisions. The Scott William Perry Band from Brookings will perform Saturday after the rodeo.
Each night is themed at the annual rodeo. This year, Thursday is 105.1 The Wolf’s Birthday Bash, Friday is United Way Night sponsored by Bi-Mart, and Saturday is Patriot Night, sponsored by Better Built Construction.
Advance VIP rodeo and Chase Bryant concert tickets are $35; advance reserved rodeo and concert tickets are $24, $14 for kids, and advance general rodeo and concert tickets are $18, $10 for kids.
Thursday tickets for the rodeo are $13, $7 for kids. On Friday, reserved tickets are $19, $11 for kids, or $16, $8 for kids, for general seating.
Reserved seating for the Bryant concert only is $18, $10 for kids. Lawn seating is $12, $8 for kids.
Tickets can be purchased online at theexpo.org, at The Expo, Boot Barn, 840 Biddle Road, Medford, and Bi-Mart stores in Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass.