FORT WORTH — Without question, the 2020 Fort Worth Stock Show will wow western riding fans with rodeo performances in the new state-of-the-art, technologically-advanced Dickies Arena for the first time.
But officials also will attempt to make a big impression on fans by rolling out a much stronger pro rodeo.
The 2020 Stock Show's Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women's Professional Rodeo Association show, which is scheduled for Jan. 24-Feb. 8, will feature a field of more accomplished competitors night after night in a tournament format. The 2020 rodeo also will feature other new elements such as a larger purse, tougher bucking stock, national TV broadcasts and a fan zone.
Brad Barnes, the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo’s president and general manager, said he wants the rodeo to captivate fans in a big way.
“We have one chance to make a first impression,” he said.
Competitors will see a substantial increase in the overall purse. The total purse at last year’s Fort Worth Stock Show was $666,990. But this year, competitors will be riding and roping for more than $1 million in prize money.
The Stock Show’s 16-day pro rodeo also will feature an overall tougher field of bucking broncs and bulls.
“We’re not only spending money on purse, but we’re also spending additional money on making sure that we give these guys the best stock we can bring in here,” Barnes said.
For example, the rodeo has contracted a wild a reckless pen of bucking stock from the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, which is renowned for broncs that can make a cowboy dine on arena dirt.
“It’s been on the bucket list for a long time,” Barnes said of getting the Calgary Stampede involved. “But it just didn’t make sense until we got into the new arena and had this new format and we’re raising the overall elements of the rodeo.”
Dave Appleton, the 1988 world all-around champion from Fort Worth who serves in a Stock Show director role and will offer with sports commentary on the 2020 rodeo’s national TV broadcasts, said Stock Show officials have wanted to make big changes for awhile, but opted to wait until the rodeo is in the new arena.
“I think it was one of those cases where ‘Let’s wait until we have the right format, the right venue and roll it out in style,’” said Appleton, a former Western Texas College star.
Michael Otero of Weatherford, a 2019 National Finals Rodeo tie-down roping qualifier, said he appreciates the rodeo for becoming more modernized and held in a larger venue. The former venue, Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, seated about 5,700 fans for each performance and the Dickies Arena will seat about 9,300.
“I like that they are modernizing it and making it more appealing to the audience,” Otero said. “That’s always great for rodeo. You bring in more people who are paying for tickets and that always benefits the cowboy eventually because it’s more money that can be put back in the contestants’ pockets.”
The Stock Show Rodeo also has added a women’s event that’s expected to be a big hit with fans. In addition to featuring the popular women’s barrel racing event, the Stock Show is adding a rapid fire event called women’s break-away roping.
Within the past year, high-profile rodeos such as the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming and the RFD-TV’s The American at AT&T Stadium in Arlington added break-away roping to their line-up of rodeo events.
But the big sweeping change is the rodeo’s format. In past years, the Fort Worth Stock Show held what’s termed as a "traditional rodeo" format. It allowed part-time riders who lacked sharper skills on a consistent basis to compete alongside world class competitors throughout the rodeo, which too often resulted in lackluster performances.
But the 2020 Stock Show will feature contestants who have had to earn the right to compete in the high-profile pro rodeo. Each event will feature a field of 56 credentialed competitors.
For example, the field includes contestants who competed in the December Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and also riders who have exceled on the PRCA’s circuit system, meaning they recently have exceled within a geographic region within North America.
In addition to the PRCA/WPRA Rodeo, the Stock Show has scheduled other rodeos such as Rodeo X on Jan. 23 that will feature credentialed competitors in both an individual and a team format.
All in all, the Stock Show scheduled 25 performances from Jan. 17 through Feb. 8 and each of them will be broadcasted live on the Cowboy Channel (an RFD-TV sister channel that regularly shows western and rodeo sports) on national television.
Matt Brockman, the Stock Show Rodeo’s media spokesperson, said organizers have a goal to convert novice fans who typically attend as the Stock Show Rodeo as a social event to become followers of rodeo as a sport.
“If we are going to grow the fan base for rodeo, then we’ve got to get more creative in finding ways to engage these fans,” Brockman said. “Whether it’s with this format that allows the fans to follow the progression of an athlete through a bracket system, if it’s utilizing the technology that we’ve got in Dickies arena and then putting all 25 performances out on national television, that gives us an opportunity. If we’re truly going to grow the fan base for the sport, we’ve got to do these things.”
For ticket information, visit fwssr.com or call 817-877-2420.
Odessa rodeo winners
On the PRCA/WPRA circuit, Shad Mayfield, a 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Clovis, N.M., clinched the tie-down roping title at the Jan. 3-11 Sandhills Stock Show & Rodeo in Odessa.
Mayfield finished No. 1 in the title race with a blistering time of 7.8 seconds and earned $4,398. He’s the son of two-time National Finals tie-down roping qualifier Sylvester Mayfield of Clovis.
In bull riding, Colten Fritzlan of Rifle, Colo., clinched the title with a score of 88 aboard a bovine named Hard & Fast, which is owned by the Powder River Rodeo Co. Fritzlan, who competed at the 2019 College National Finals Rodeo for Western Texas College in Snyder, earned $4,822 at the Odessa pro rodeo.
Bareback riders Jayco Roper and former Wrangler NFR qualifier Jake Brown tied for the win in Odessa with matching 88-point rides, breaking the arena record formerly held by five competitors at 87 points.
Roper and Brown turned in the 88s on Beutler & Sons Rodeo’s South Suds and Beutler & Sons Rodeo’s On Tap With Nutrena, respectively.
According to prorodeo.com, the other winners at the $243,145 Odessa rodeo were steer wrestler Shayde Etherton (8.2 seconds on two head); team ropers Jr. Dees and Lane Siggins (8.8 seconds on two head); saddle bronc riders Tanner Butner and Parker Fleet (86.5 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Foul Motion and Beutler & Son Rodeo’s That’s A Wrap, respectively); barrel racer Kassie Mowry (13.94 seconds); and steer roper Billy Good (52.5 seconds on four head). Tuf Cooper, a Childress native who has residences in Weatherford and Decatur, won the all-around title ($2,631, tie-down roping and steer roping).
On the Professional Bull Riders circuit, Daylon Swearingen of Piffard, N.Y., finished No. 1 at the Jan. 11-12 Unleash The Beast tour stop that was conducted in the Chicago area. He earned $37,475.
Swearingen turned in scores of 87.75, 86 and 91.75 (in the final round), which helped him clinch the title with 115.5 PBR world points.
In June, Swearingen clinched the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s bull riding title at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., while competing for Panola College in Carthage.
Swearingen also helped Panola College claim the 2019 NIRA men’s team title at the Casper championships.