By Ann Bleiker
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. - The WPRA is pleased to announce their contract award winners that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make it all happen and keeps the Association alive and well. Each winner will be officially recognized during the annual WPRA Star Celebration on Thursday, Dec. 6 at the Grand Ballroom of the South Point Hotel and Casino.
This year’s Wrangler NFR will be very special for the Youree family as Florence Youree’s granddaughter Kylie Weast becomes the fourth barrel racer to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo and Florence will receive the NFR Achievement Award from the WPRA. She will be recognized for her efforts of getting the barrel racing as part of the featured events at the NFR in 1967. Prior to this time the barrel racing had either been held in conjunction with the steer roping and team roping finals or by itself. As a former president and secretary of the Girls Rodeo Association, now the WPRA, Youree worked tirelessly to improve competitive opportunities for all members and to create something bigger and better for future generations.
“I think they added $1,000,” notes Youree of the committee purse for the barrel racing at the 1967 NFR. “That was really something (to be included). The girls today have no idea what it was like running for $50 day monies at rodeos like Houston.”
For granting their participation and footing the added money, the NFR committee asked that the ladies pitch in to help out the production and promotion of the Finals. They were expected to ride in the parade, carry flags as needed and help out in the rodeo office. Things have come a long way since that time in regards to barrel racing at the NFR.
Florence qualified for the NFR five times (1960-62, ’66-67), her daughter Renee Ward qualified in 1985, her granddaughter Janae Ward-Massey qualified three times (2000-03) winning the WPRA world title in 2003, and now Kylie Ward Weast is making her first trip to the NFR.
RodeoHouston has been named the WPRA Outstanding Rodeo Committee Partner, an award that was first given in 2017. Houston joins the Calgary Stampede as the only two committees to receive this award. This award is given to committees that have helped to elevate the sport of rodeo, specifically barrel racing and for the overall partnership they have shown over the years with the WPRA.
Joining the WPRA Family of Sponsors in 2018 was AIP Inc., a minority owned company providing a team of qualified technical professionals, both international and domestic, in the oil and gas industry. Due to their support of professional barrel racing they will be honored with the Sponsor of the Year Award for 2018.
PRCA’s new CEO George Taylor will be honored with the Outstanding Individual award that is given to a person for his or her contributions to the WPRA. Past recipients include Troy Weekley, Karl Stressman, Alan Woodbury, John Farris, Lewis Cryer, Kenneth Springer, Benny Binion and Ken Stemler, to name a few.
There is no doubt that rodeo would have a hard time existing without hardworking rodeo committees. The WPRA honors rodeos in each circuit with the Justin Best Footing Awards that will be announced at a later date, but they also recognize rodeos in the large, medium and small committee category. Winning for the fourth time is California Rodeo Salinas in the large committee category. Winning for the fourth time overall but second time in the medium category is the Mandan (N.D.) Rodeo Days. Mandan had previously won in the small rodeo category before moving up to the medium level. The Linn County Fair & Rodeo in Mound City, Kan., was named the small rodeo of the year in the WPRA for the first time.
The WPRA would like to congratulate each of the award recipients as well as those that were nominated for these prestigious awards.
Below is a full list of those that will be receiving awards at the 2018 WPRA Star Celebration.
Announcer of the Year
Stock Contractor of the Year
Barnes PRCA Rodeo – Marty Barnes
Pro Official of the Year
Mildred Farris Secretary of the Year
Sunni Deb Backstrom
Small Committee of the Year (added money of $5,000 or less)
Linn County Fair & Rodeo (Mound City, Kan.)
Medium Committee of the Year (added money of $5,001 - $9,999)
Mandan (N.D.) Rodeo Days
Large Committee of the Year (added money over $10,000)
California Rodeo Salinas
Jolee Lautaret Jordan
Sponsor of the Year
Outstanding Individual Award
Lenora Reimers Heritage Award
Outstanding Rodeo Committee Partner
Outstanding Rodeo Committee Partner
Lifetime Family Heritage Award
4L & Diamond S Rodeo
NFR Achievement Award
Outstanding Service & Dedication