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Dust off your cowboy boots, the rodeo comes to town

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Submitted Photo At the Jesse Andrus and Mike Hillman Memorial Rodeo the best of the cowboys and cowgirls compete.

Jesse Andrus & Mike Hillman Memorial Pro Rodeo returns

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Jesse Andrus & Mike Hillman Memorial Pro Rodeo returns to Roswell’s Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, 2500 SE Main St., on April 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. nightly.

The memorial rodeo started as bull riding in 2010, just four months after the untimely passing of Jesse Andrus and Mike Hillman in an accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning. The two young men were friends and on their way back home from Arizona after Hillman won his first professional rodeo. It was Andrus’ first professional rodeo he participated in. Both were seniors at Goddard High School.

The Jesse Andrus & Mike Hillman Memorial Pro Rodeo is an annual event in memory of the two senior high school students whose lives tragically ended. The memorial rodeo raises funds to support local charities.

Cowboys and cowgirls from across the United States and Mexico compete for more than $40,000 in prize money in the seven major events of rodeo: bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, team roping, girls’ barrel racing and bull riding.

Silver Creek Pro Rodeo will provide the livestock featuring their National Finals Rodeo bulls and horses. Seven-time Funnyman of the Year Justin Rumford will be here for the entertainment of the spectators. Rumford “Rumpshaker” is one of the top rodeo clowns in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

He was awarded 2011-12 College National Finals Rodeo Barrelman and 2012 and 2013 PRCA Clown of the Year. Born on the back of a pick-up horse in a summer haze, Rumford is a third-generation rodeo cowboy and one of the top barrelmen in the PRCA. His grandfather, Floyd Rumford, started Rumford Rodeo Company in the 1950s and ran the company until he was laid to rest in 1998. Justin Rumford’s father, Bronc Rumford, took it over and raised rodeo stock in the small town of Abbyville, Kansas, as well.

Justin Rumford has straddled the fence of the business on both sides of the arena chutes working as a contestant and pick-up man in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association since 1999. He qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo, in steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding, three of his four years in college. In 2010, his rodeo career took a different direction when he was asked by a friend to fill in as the barrelman for a rodeo in Kansas. One month later, he received his PRCA card to be a rodeo entertainer and he’s been on the vertical rise ever since.

Next to Rumford, there will be many world champions and NFR qualifiers competing to earn a spot at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Tickets are available at Roswell Livestock and Farm Supply, Roswell Chamber of Commerce and at the gate.

Proceeds from this year’s event go to Wings for L.I.F.E. (Life-skills Imparted to Families through Education). The organization helps children and adults direct their lives by providing a safe and welcoming environment, teaching them the skills they need to make positive choices and tap into their special talents as viable members of the community. Wings for L.I.F.E. in Roswell, New Mexico began as an affiliate of Wings for L.I.F.E. out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, founded by Anne Edenfield Sweet. The Community Outreach Meeting, offered twice a month, was the first program to be established. By October 2007, Roswell Wings for L.I.F.E. became an independent nonprofit organization. The organization has daily programs, working with families and the Roswell Independent School District. It has free weekly parenting classes every Wednesday. For more information, visit roswell-wingsforlife.org.

For more information on the rodeo, visit jesseandmikememorial.com.