Bolatto a winner at weekend-long rodeo


First Posted: 6/14/2009

LOWGAP Sally Roberts phone was ringing off the hook Saturday and she couldnt figure out why.
The Palomino Mountain Ranch owner was getting calls asking if the rodeo planned for the evening was canceled. But the sheets of rain that fell hard and heavy throughout Mount Airy and southern Virginia bypassed Lowgap and the event went on as planned.
Roberts was surprised when a better-than-expected turnout appeared. In fact, she estimated more people showed up Saturday than the rodeos first night on Friday.
It rained Saturday night in Mount Airy right before people were supposed to be getting there, Roberts said. I got about 20 calls asking if we were still on. Well, we had a real good one.
Winners included Steve Randall in bareback riding; Thomas Linton in calf roping; Linton and Dustin Rash in team roping; hometown-favorite Jessi Bolatto in barrel racing; and Brandon Morratei in bull riding. Bolatto is Roberts daughter and lives on the Palomino Mountain Ranch. Randall, who hails from Caesar, earned points towards the Southern States Rodeo Association poll.
The animals also performed well on the final night.
The bulls were a lot more rambunctious, Roberts said. They bucked really high and showed up.
Roberts said earlier in the week that getting the word out proved to be the most difficult part of the show. Once it was put together, she had to figure out where to put everyone. Announcer Woody Woodruff is an Arkansas native. Bull fighter Jake Wilcox resides in Georgia. Suffice is to say, not everyone was able to commute.
Some stay at a motel, some stay with us, Roberts said. We have a little bit everywhere.
She said members of the rodeo are always welcome at her ranch. Many of the workers she has known for years and become friends with.
The rodeo is really just one big family where everyone knows everybody, Roberts said. I have some people that have worked for us 15 to 20 years.
Roberts said she plans to take the next few months off and spend some time with her family and work on the ranch. A junior rodeo to benefit St. Judes may occur in September.

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