NEEDLES — Though lowering clouds and gusty winds may have conspired to reduce attendance on Saturday the 42nd running of the Colorado River Round Up Rodeo “did very, very well,” according to the Needles Rodeo Association’s Judy Thornton. She reported that Friday night was a record-setter, with the crowd staying until the midnight end of music by the Briana Payne Band which followed the rodeo.

“Where else can you see two rodeos and go to two dances for 10 bucks?” she asked; referring to this year’s new two-day tickets available in advance from The Rodeo Store in downtown Needles. Thornton continued that the store in the Route 66 Old Town Plaza at Broadway and E Street did better than ever. She shared an anecdote of a lady from the Netherlands, traveling cross-country by motorhome, who said she had never been to a rodeo and wanted to know if she would see horses, cows and cowboys like in the movies. She did.

“It was a good rodeo,” she continued. “We had a full slate of contestants.” The Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo Association is the sanctioning body for the local rodeo. The association requires members to compete in five of six selected rodeos and compile a certain number of points to enter finals competition, Thornton explained. That translated to full slates of competitors each night plus “slack” riding Saturday morning to accommodate events which exceeded the numbers allotted to the evening performances. Saturday also featured junior barrel racing competition, calf riding and mutton bustin’ for the younger set plus the traditional horseshoe tournament.

Not all the youngsters performing were riding livestock: 14-year-old Needles High School freshman and Fort Mojave Indian Tribe member McKenna Duarte sang the National Anthem on Friday night while schoolmate and outgoing Rodeo Queen Kaylee Willis circled the arena on horseback with the American flag. The Fort Mojave Indian Tribal Band performed the anthem on Saturday.

Thornton also commented the event has a great announcer and that Los Angeles-based Don ‘Hollywood’ Yates in his Needles debut as rodeo clown was a crowd-pleaser.

There were also quite a few local participants this year, she reported; including Austin and Blake Baldwin, Michael and Wade Evans, Lawty and Lawton Cavallier, Brody and Cole Shott, Joel Preston and Ron Ratliff in the roping arena and Amber Acklin, Sarah Harris, Katrina Noble, Jessica Smith and Kaylee Willis competing in barrel racing. A more complete list may become available on the association website at; pay out results from the Colorado River Round Up had already been posted by Monday morning.

“It always makes it exciting when we have locals out there,” Thornton said; pointing out that while the association allows local competitors GCPRA members are not registered as locals.

Thornton expressed gratitude for the help and support of the community, sponsors, rodeo committee members and volunteers, concluding: “People are so willing to come help us and we’re so lucky.”

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