The bulls appeared to be the hands-down victors.
Yet, the real winners were beneficiaries of funds raised during the ninth annual Brett Cushenbery Memorial Bull Riding at Cico Park in Manhattan.
“More than $4,000 was presented to the Kaw Valley Rodeo Association and Central Plains Rodeo Association Finals as well as $3,000 to the Dawson Adams’ Education Fund,” according to A.J. Griffin, Manhattan, who organized the event in memory of Cushenbery, his friend.
A champion bull rider, Brett Cushenbery was taken in the prime of life after being trampled by a bull at the 2003 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Prairie Circuit Finals in Hutchinson
“We’ve had this memorial bull riding each year since to keep Brett’s memory alive and benefit worthwhile rodeo and Western-way-of life organizations,” Griffin explained.
“This year in addition to giving to the two rodeo groups, we started an educational fund for 11-year-old Dawson Adams, who rescued a two-year-old girl from drowning in a swimming pool after she wondered away from adult supervision at a party,” Griffin added.
“There were so many people who helped make this a success, but I have to credit my neighbor and good friend Ernie Love for going above and beyond in soliciting donations and making sure the evening went off without a hitch,” credited Griffin.
More than 35 sponsors contributed to the benefit.
R.C. McGraw’s, local Western-nightclub, managed by Nick Powers, was credited for hosting dances on both Friday and Saturday evenings, with the gate-fees going to the memorial benefit.
“Budweiser was a major financial-supporter as well,” Griffin acknowledged. “We really appreciate everybody’s kind generosity.”
However, it’s true that the bulls were top scorers percentage-wise in the main action-of-the-evening.
Fifty-two bulls bucked out of the chutes, with only seven eight-second qualified rides.
Thirty-nine cowboys competed in the long-go-round, and six made it to the whistle qualifying for the short go-round. But, there were 12 bulls scheduled for the short-go, so names were drawn from disqualified-riders for an opportunity to mount a second bull.
When all scores were tabulated, D.J. Shields, Talala, Oklahoma, was named the overall winner of $2,520, for his short-go score of 87 points on the bull, Price Sheriff, from the New Frontier Rodeo Company at Roxbury.
Second was split between Jace Merry, Delphos, and Jack Fry, Ft. Scott, who each received $1,545 checks, for identical scores of 78, in the long-go on bulls called DH Chieftain and Stewie, respectively, both from the Williams and Long Rodeo Company, Arkansas City.
Fourth place was worth $630 to Ricky Ritter, Augusta, for his 74-point ride on Waterhead of the Williams and Long string.
Four additional money-winners were top contestants in the freestyle-bullfighting. Kyle Lippencott, Fort Scott, collected $560 for his 76-point first-place-fight.
Most likely his travel expenses weren’t covered, but Judd Nupier of Hawaii helped pay some of costs to get to Manhattan and back when he received the $420 second-place-check for his 74-bullfighting-points.
Eric “Target” Sherwood, Beaver, Neb., received $280 for his third place 69 points, and Travis Lon, Topeka, scored 61 points worth $140 for fourth.
Opening ceremonies were an inspirational-tribute to the memory of Brett Cushenbery as A.J. Griffin escorted a rider-less horse around the arena signifying recognition of a fallen rider.
The song, “A Smile Like That,” was originally dedicated to the memory of fallen-bull-rider Lane Frost by Randy Schmutz, and Griffin had it redone by Kansas singer Rusty Rierson and dedicated to Brett Cushenberry’s remembrance.
Announcer Storm Denison, Derby, honored Cushenbery’s memory in word and prayer as the rousing-rendition played on the loudspeaker.
Cushenbery’s parents, Larry and Yvonne Cushenbery of Tampa, were recognized during the ceremonies, and his mother, Yvonne, sang the National Anthem as Ole Glory was presented on horseback by Mrs. (Jen) Griffin.
No shortage of entertainment was staged for the more than 3,800 spectators in attendance.
Funnyman Radical Ryan Rodriquez, honored five-times as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year, worked as the barrel man tantalizing the bulls throughout the evening as he quipped with the audience.
From Phillipsburg, Rodriquez, brought his sons, Rad and Riot, with him, and they were decked out in greasepaint and baggy-clown-clothes as part of the crowd-applauding intermission acts.
Three-times world champion bull fighter Wacey Munsell, Weatherford, Oklahoma, assisted in protecting fallen bull riders, as clown-bullfighters Danny Munsell, Salina, and Mark Peters, Rose Hill, appreciated his senior assistance.
Judges were Klee Jones of Sharon Springs and Mike Lenning of Billings, Montana.
Plans are underway for the tenth annual Brett Cushenbery Memorial Bull Riding, in April 2013, according to Griffin, who was excited to announce that Judge Mike Lenning, will be back next year as a competitor.
“He’s coming out of retirement just for us,” Griffin said.
Official photographer for the competition was Amy Griffin, and photos of the evening’s excitement can be viewed at www.photosbyamy.biz.