Idaho-That Famous Preston Night Rodeo has been held
every year since 1934 with just one year off due to
World War II and has seen its share of world and circuit
champions claiming titles. Given its name for being
the first night rodeo in the world, Preston concluded
its three performance run on August 1 with a new name
in the spotlight for the barrel racers.
Lori Papageorge has not been a WPRA
member for long, joining two years ago and quickly filling
her permit at just a handful of rodeos. She only goes
to close rodeos each year, saying she doesn't like to
travel more than about three hours from home, especially
with high gas prices like those experienced last year.
Living in northern Utah, the drive
to That Famous Preston Night Rodeo was just a short
jaunt up the road about an hour for Papageorge and her
12-year old gelding, Societys Smokey Road, better known
as Smokey. Once there, she would score the biggest win
of her young pro career, beating out the bulk of the
circuit's barrel racers at the moment in a hotly contested
race with just 28/100ths of a second separating first
and 10th. Papageorge's 17.33-second run just slid past
current circuit leader Sue Smith's 17.34 for the victory.
She collected $1,480.
Papageorge has been running barrels
for about 15 years now, taking time off to raise two
boys, Joel and Cody, 22 and 27 respectively. Neither
the boys nor her husband, Alex, are involved in horses
but support Lori 100 percent. Her mount Smokey came
to Papageorge off the track as a 3-year old.
"He was supposed to be sold
and going to California to run there but the owner just
wanted me to have him," she explains. "He
needed a chip taken out of his ankle but I really liked
him and got him for a good price."
After surgery and rehab, Papageorge
began the colt on barrels but he seemed injury prone
and didn't get to start running much until five and
six years of age. Coming up through the local NBHA and
UBRA (Utah Barrel Racing Association) races, Papageorge
soon began entering local rodeos and then decided to
try the pro ranks. Meanwhile the gelding was growing
into quite a big horse, now standing 16.1 hands and
weighing 1,400 pounds.
"He likes the outdoor arenas
and is not as good indoors, just because he is so big,"
"I did not have any luck at
the beginning of the year and I was getting frustrated,"
she recalls. "I was wondering, 'what am I doing
wrong?' Then I talked to my friends Carolee Rex and
Carol Knudsen." Her friends gave her advice on
how to clear her thoughts and how to focus on her horse
and what she needed to do in her runs.
"They really helped me out,
got me thinking about what I needed to do, what my horse
needed to do, to get around the barrels."
Still, the win at Preston seemed
to shock the cowgirl. "I was just so happy we had
a clean time, I was hoping it would be a 17.5 so that
maybe I could win a check," she laughs. "When
they said my time, I about had a heart attack! I was
"It's the most exciting thing
I've done in years and the most exciting thing with
this horse so far. I'm blessed."
Though new to the WPRA, Papageorge
has a long history with horses, having been a galloper
and sometime jockey on the tracks in southern California
where she grew up and in Idaho. She had horses from
the time she was 15, competing in gymkhanas and local
play days. She also tried her hand at jumping but found
that she preferred the speed events to being judged.
"Carol [Knudsen] got me involved
in barrel racing while I was still working on the track,"
Papageorge explains. "I love it! It is so much
fun, you get to travel and meet a lot of different people.
I love the excitement of the rodeos but I still get
With her win in Preston, Papageorge
moved into the top 25 in the current Wilderness Circuit
standings. The circuit season is winding down, though,
with just over a month left before the cut-off for the
"I'm just now getting it down!"
Papageorge laughs. "I wish I could have gotten
him going sooner so I would have been more ready for
the season. He is just now getting fit and running good.
I will do that next year for sure."
For more information on That Famous
Preston Night Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.thatfamousprestonnightrodeo.org.