GLENS FALLS — There’s something about the darkened arena just before the spotlight shines on the opening rider that quiets the crowd and paves the way for the announcer’s booming baritone welcome that slices through the silence.
And as another rider enters the arena guiding a riderless horse, the rodeo announcer tells the story of an Argyle farmer who was killed this summer in a farm accident.
“Tonight we honor one of our own. You see, folks, the riderless horse remembers those who have fallen. Tonight we remember Mr. Grant Weaver,” said Greg Simas, Adirondack Stampede Charity Rodeo announcer. “Grant left this earth August 29 at the age of 48 ... Grant, you are not forgotten ... a rodeo champion and a friend of ours. I know he is with us here tonight.”
As the crowd cheered, Simas announced that the Adirondack Stampede Charity Rodeo will be presenting a scholarship at the Washington County Fair every year in Weaver’s memory.
And so the 29th annual Adirondack Stampede Charity Rodeo began on Friday night at the Cool Insuring Arena in downtown Glens Falls, to a heartened crowd of cowgirls and cowboys ready for the anticipated event.
The music beats louder and faster, the animals kick their sides of their metal pens while riders enter the arena ready for the first event, where seconds count. And when trying to stay on a bucking bronc, the required eight seconds can seem like a lifetime.
A night at the rodeo is a wild ride of thrills and spills; of fast-moving competitors; of red, white and blue patriotism; of families and kids caught in the fantasy of cowboy-dom.
After a several-year break, Simas, a champion rodeo announcer, was back at the Glens Falls rodeo by popular demand, according to Shana Graham, the co-owner of Painted Pony Championship Rodeo in Lake Luzerne.
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“I’ve been coming to this rodeo most of my life,” said Graham on Friday morning.
As part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Adirondack Stampede Charity Rodeo is in the PRCA’s First Frontier Circuit, and on Friday and Saturday, 200 contestants competed.
Vying for standings that will hopefully earn them a slot in the Las Vegas RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in January 2020, they are competing against the animal, the clock and each other.
Each year, the charity rodeo picks local funding recipients, and on Friday the Adirondack Stampede Charity Rodeo awarded two $500 Future Farmers of America Scholarships to Madison Peryuea and Tyler Ziehm.
Peryuea is a senior from Northern Adirondack Central School in Ellenburg and Ziehm is a junior at Greenwich High School.
Freedom Machines, Nipper Knolls Therapeutic Riding Program and the Moreau community were among the many recipients of this year’s rodeo.
“They are out of this world,” said Graham about the community center.
The rodeo runs through Saturday night, with slack competition (overflow contestants) on Saturday morning at Cool Insuring Arena.