IMMOKALEE — Cowboys and cowgirls came from as far away as Tennessee to compete in the John Jimmie Memorial Ranch Rodeo March 8 and 9 in Immokalee. Crowds filled the stands both nights to watch the action.
A ranch rodeo is a far cry from a typical rodeo; there are no bulls or barrels at all. Instead, competitors show off the skills they have mastered and use on ranches every day. Events included simulations of calf branding, stray gathering, team doctoring, team sorting and actual bronc riding.
Twenty-one teams competed for a piece of the $25,000 purse, the richest ranch rodeo in Florida. All five team members, four men and one woman, worked on the events to put up the highest scores. Bronc riding was the exception with just one team member competing.
“This is a good thing to do for the Tribe and the Immokalee community,” said Big Cypress Councilman Mondo Tiger. “The last one we had here was in the 1990s. This community needs more activities and events.”
The 2J Ranch team could have been called Team Jumper; Josh, Naha, Andre, Blevyns and Ahnie Jumper made up the team. Bar Triple C included Tribal members Justin Gopher and Cat Tommie.
The event was organized with the help of Clint Raulerson, a fourth generation Southwest Florida cowboy, who thanked Tiger, Immokalee council project manager Ray Garza and everyone else who lent a hand to make the rodeo happen on his Facebook page.
The overall winner of the ranch rodeo was the team from Trinity Ranch/Bob’s Barricades, consisting of CJ Carter, Dalton Boney, Ty Brand Bennet, Frankie Syfrett and Jed Gray. Second place went to Bit Land and Cattle and the team from Superior Livestock took third place.
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The John Jimmie Memorial was part of a busy stretch of rodeos on Seminole reservations in February and March.
The Eastern Indian Rodeo Association kicked off its 2019 season with the Betty Mae Jumper Memorial Rodeo on a new setup on the Hollywood Reservation. The EIRA kids rodeo was mostly rained out, but by the weather cooperated by evening. Betty Mae’s son Moses Jumper Jr. handled commentary duties for the night rodeo, which included a video tribute to Betty Mae on a large screen. The facility was built in the southeast corner of Seminole Estates.
Some of the same competitors returned to Hollywood the following weekend for the Bill Osceola Memorial Rodeo, which served as an Indian National Finals Rodeo Tour stop. Jacoby Johns, of the Brighton Reservation, won bareback riding. Other winners included Shelby Osceola (lady’s breakaway roping), Britt Givens (senior breakaway roping, senior team roping), Dontre Goff (calf roping), Canaan Jumper (junior breakaway roping), Aaron Tsinigine (team roping), Ty Romo (team roping), Spider Ramone (senior team roping), Sallye Williams (lady’s barrel racing), JoJo Fischer (junior barrel racing) and Caden Bunch (junior bull riding). Bunch and Jaylen Baker tied for first in bull riding.
Brighton’s Fred Smith Rodeo Arena welcomed the pros from the PRCA for the rodeo portion of the Brighton Field Day from Feb. 15-17.Tim Pharr, of Georgia, finished first in tie-down roping and captured All-around cowboy honors.
Senior Editor Kevin Johnson contributed to this story.