Roy Rodeo Shines

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Cowboys and cowgirls from across the Pacific Northwest competed Saturday and Sunday for nearly $28,000 in cash prizes — and boasting rights — at the annual Roy Pioneer Rodeo. And a sunny late spring weekend drew thousands of people to the grandstands to watch them do it.


It was a great weekend to get a little dirty at the rodeo.


“That’s what a rodeo is all about,” said Norma Erb, who has been helping host the rodeo in Roy for about 40 years now.


Excitement. Dusty boots. Shiny belt buckles. The thrill of watching an angry 2,000-pound bull chase down the rider it just tossed in the dirt.


Erb estimated Saturday that between 3,000 and 4,000 people would attend the rodeo each day, people from all different backgrounds. Country folks. City folks. Service members and their families. Teenagers. Young moms with kids. Old-timers with memories.


“I would say weather has a lot to do with the crowd and how enthused they are,” Erb said. “When we get a good day, everybody feels great, and they want to get outside. I like the hubbub, the excitement of the people, the oohs and the aahs.”


Aurora Motz, 8, watched the rodeo Saturday from her place in the dirt near the fence. She was there with her aunt, Lori Whitney, and her uncle, Dusty Flynn. Aurora, wearing a cowgirl hat, a pink bandana and matching face paint, said she really liked “the sugar, the face painting and watching people fall off horses and stuff.”


Whitney and Flynn watched the events from the center front row of the grandstand. Flynn spent 17 years riding the rodeo circuit as a bulldogger, or steer wrestler, until he just got “too broken.” He said he broke every bone in his body except his skull. Even still, he misses the rodeo and the camaraderie, the travel and the hundreds of different people he used to meet.


The weekend’s events included rodeo standards such as barrel racing and bull riding, steer wrestling and bareback riding. There was a cow-milking contest and an open military bull-riding competition.


Erb said the rodeo started in Roy 61 years ago, when “a couple of old codgers” cut down some trees and built some rodeo stands. It has evolved and grown since then, and the town has come to be known for its rodeos. A small group of devoted volunteers keep it all going, Erb said, and any proceeds are donated to organizations such as the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma and the American Cancer Society.


The Roy Pioneer Rodeo Association is a nonprofit organization, Erb said. The Roy rodeos are sanctioned by the Northwest Pro Rodeo Association, and the results of the competition can be found on the association’s website at


The Roy Pioneer Rodeo is held twice a year, usually in late May-early June and then again in late August-early September. If you missed the rodeo last weekend, mark your calendar for Aug. 30-31. That is when this year’s second rodeo will be held in Roy. The gates will open at noon both days, and the activities begin at 1:30.


For Norma Erb and her family, the rodeo is all in the family. Her five children used to compete when they were younger. Now many of them help put the rodeo on for a new generation of fans. The event gives businesses in this small town a big boost, she said, and it gives people a fun place to go on a sunny weekend.


“I still get thrilled over it,” Erb said.


Tonya Erickson, Erb’s daughter and a rodeo volunteer, said the Roy Pioneer Rodeo Association could use some more dedicated volunteers, those with a love of rodeo or just helping in their community.

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