The 74th annual Chief Joseph Days rodeo kicked off on Tuesday, August 23 with the bucking horse stampede down Main Street in Joseph. Wednesday and Thursday saw full rodeo action both in the afternoon slack and evening rodeo. On Wednesday, local bull rider Derek Kolbaba, ranked 8th in the world, was one of two bull riders to compete. Neither had a timed ride. Kolbaba rode his bull for more than the required eight seconds, but was disqualified because halfway through his ride his free hand brushed the spinning bull’s side. Kolbaba’s dismount was equally unfortunate. He landed on his feet, but in the process aggravated a knee injury sustained last year in Little Rock, Arkansas. He had to be helped from the arena, but later recovered and headed for his next rodeo in Montana.
On Thursday, bull riders were more successful. Caleb McMillan of Soap Lake Washington who scored an 83-point ride on Dirty Steve owned the night. McMillan also competed in steer wrestling and tie-down roping. Heartbreak of the Thursday night bull event was Colton Humphries re-ride. Interfered with when the bull collided with the side of the chute, Humphries was offered a re-ride on a bull known as Renewed Spirit. In a spectacular performance, Humphries stayed aboard the high-kicking animal for exactly 7.98 seconds. Then as he tried to gather himself and get to his feet, the bull turned on him, knocking the prone Humphries around the arena for a few breath-holding seconds before the bull fighters distracted him from the fallen rider. Helped from the arena, Humphries seemed to be ok. However, eight seconds is 8.00 seconds, and Humphries was awarded a No Time for his second effort.
While arena records have been challenged, as of Thursday night’s performance, none have been broken yet this year. In barrels, Rose Jones has claimed the fastest time with 17.53. In broncs, Trenton Montero of Winnemucca Nevada leads in bareback with 83.5 points, while Mitch Pollack, also of Winnemucca scored an 80 point ride on Party Pooper to lead in Saddle broncs. In team roping, tie down roping, and steer wrestling the livestock seem to hold the upper hoof, with missed loops and missed steers more common than catches. So far, Dakota Eldridge of Elko, Nevada leads steer wrestling with a 4.5 second time, followed by Trevor Knowles of Mount Vernon, Oregon with 5.2 seconds.
This year’s specialty act, Troy Lerwill’s Wild Child, includes jokes and a motorcycle jump over a Dodge pickup—accompanied by flames. It appears to be an audience favorite, despite the fact that it’s a rodeo act with no sign of horses, cattle or even dogs anywhere. Lerwill’s good-natured banter and considerable motocross skills produce a family-friendly act with plenty of laughs. Chief Joseph Days continues tonight and Saturday, with the Parade and Friendship Feast on Saturday, then concludes with the Saturday evening performance and Cowboy Church on Sunday.