WEST OF THE PECOS RODEO: Area competitors right at home at Pecos

PECOS Competing in rodeos across the country requires lots of travel and plenty of hours on the road away from home.

But sometimes, there simply is no place like home.

The West of the Pecos Rodeo brings some of the best competition in the country, but for those with local ties, they recognize and appreciate the opportunity to showcase their talents close to home.

“I’ve been here pretty much every year of my life,” roper J. Tom Fisher said. “I competed here for 16 years, my father and brother have both roped here and this is just one of my favorite rodeos.”

The Andrews native is one of a handful of local competitors this week. Like everyone else, he’s also working towards a goal of making it to the national finals in Las Vegas in December.

The Pecos Rodeo is just one of several stops along that path as part of “Cowboy Christmas” and being able to win a title here can go a long way toward achieving that ultimate goal.

“I look forward to this every year because it’s one of the best rodeos across the country,” steer roper Corey Ross said. “If you win here, it helps you with the earnings and your career.”

Ross also sees the West of the Pecos Rodeo as a homecoming. The Texas Tech graduate has spent time living in Odessa and Carlsbad, N.M., and spent a number of years residing in West Texas.

Ross now lives in Liberty Hill, just outside of Austin, and said it’s always a great feeling to be back in Pecos.

“This is like my hometown rodeo,” Ross said. “Being raised around this area and being able to enter this event is a dream come true.”

Then there are those who have a number of different perspectives from this rodeo.

Lisa Fernandes has both served on the rodeo committee and competed in this year’s rodeo in barrel racing.

The Pecos native takes a lot of pride in competing in her hometown and acknowledges the support she gets from the Permian Basin.

“You want to win any rodeo you compete in, but there’s nothing more special than competing in your hometown rodeo,” she said. “This is the one I wouldn’t miss for anything. This rodeo, in my opinion, is the best one in the state of Texas.”

Having that comfort level at home can also be an advantage for riders and ropers.

“There’s always extra pressure to do well here,” Fisher said. “But it’s a place you’ve roped at so many times you feel like you’re at your own practice arena at home.”

Things didn’t quite work out for Fisher at his opening performance Wednesday after not recording a score in both team roping and steer roping.

That said, it’s an event that Fisher says that he’ll come back to for as long as he’s able to.

“It’s a place that everyone looks forward to coming to all year long,” Fisher said. “I’ve never won this rodeo but I always want to win this rodeo just as bad as any other one.

“I won’t be able to win it this year, but I’m just going to practice up and see what I can do next year.”