Community Sports

Tuf Cooper, rodeo star, comes to Lynden

Tuf Cooper, the PRCA points leader in tie-down roping, will be competing August 18-19 at the Lynden Rodeo.
Tuf Cooper, the PRCA points leader in tie-down roping, will be competing August 18-19 at the Lynden Rodeo. Courtesy of PRCA to The Bellingham Herald

The 11th annual Lynden Rodeo is bringing back one of the most popular names in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Tuf Cooper.

“The fans up in Lynden are awesome,” Cooper said. “The committee does an outstanding job putting on a great rodeo and really taking care of the cowboys, it makes it exciting to be coming back.”

Around 240 contestants will compete during the rodeo at the Northwest Washington Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 18, and Wednesday, Aug. 19. Roughstock events, judged based on the contestant’s and animal’s combined performance, include bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding. Timed events include team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing and steer wrestling.

For Cooper, coming to Lynden is a chance to perform for fans in a corner of the country he does not get to see as often. From Texas, he is ranked second overall in the PRCA world standings as of Aug. 17 and is the leader in tie-down roping.

“I love that I get to wake up and do what I love every day,” he said. “I love that I’m my own boss and that it’s up to me on my success, I’m not depending on anyone else except myself whenever I compete. I love that there are so many hard working people in this industry, like the Lynden crew, that make my dreams possible.”

Cooper is known for his crowd-pleasing performance. As of August 17, his 2015 rodeo earnings were $88,789.31. In his career with the PRCA, he has earned nearly $1.5 million.

“I just want to be the best roper I can be,” he said.

Marv Tjoelker, a member of the fair board for 12 years, has worked to put on the Lynden rodeo since it began in 2005. He calls Cooper “the Russell Wilson of professional rodeo” because of the cowboy’s fan base and talent.

“Its really special that he’s coming through because he’s such a crowd-pleaser,” Tjoelker said.” So many people in the rodeo world know him.”

The rodeo tradition extends back to the early days of the United States and many cities have long-standing events that make the 11-year-old Lynden rodeo look brand new. However, they have managed to establish a premiere reputation that has put them on the PRCA circuit, Tjoelker said.

“We are super well known for our cowboy hospitality,” he said. “When the contestants show up here in Lynden, they get treated like royalty and that has really helped us get on the map.”

Another thing that stands out about the Lynden rodeo is their commitment to the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign. Last year, Lynden raised $35,000 for the PeaceHealth Cancer Center, the fifth largest sum from any rodeo in 2014.

The goal is to raise as much money to support breast cancer research as possible, Tjoelker said. Spectators and contestants are encouraged to wear pink to show their support.

Consistently, the Lynden rodeo sees about a third of the 120 National Finals Rodeo qualifiers. The NFR is “sort of like the Superbowl of rodeos” and takes place in Las Vegas every year, Tjoelker said.

“When you get a third of the best of the best showing up in Lynden for its rodeo, it’s just awesome because that means this rodeo is on the map,” he said. “They are coming to us.”

Along with Cooper, eight other top-20 PRCA cowboys, as of August 17, will be contestants at the Lynden rodeo. Jojo Lemond, No. 4; Clayton Hass, No. 9; Dakota Eldridge, No. 11; Jordan Ketscher, No. 13; Doyle Hoskins, No. 14; Steven Dent, No. 15; Trenton Montero, No. 17 and Billy Bob Brown, No. 18.

Each year the rodeo is growing and bringing in bigger names in the sport. Sherry Cervi, sixth in the Womens Professional Rodeo Association 2015 World Standings, will be a contestant. She is a two-time world champion barrel racer and 13-time NFR qualifier. Cervi also represented the United States in the 2002 Winter Olympics.

“She is one of the most popular and successful barrel riders,” Tjoelker said. “It’s wonderful she will be here.”

Lynden PRCA Rodeo

When: Tuesday-Wednesday, Aug. 18-19

Where: Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Tickets: Pricing with gate admission: $27 adults, $22 youth

Pricing without gate admission: $15 adults/youth