With the West Coast virtually shut down completely for more than a year now, the return of the Reno Rodeo and lucrative Bob Feist Invitational (BFI) Reno Open on June 21 is delighting west-coast roping fans.
The BFI Reno Open will offer one more glimpse of team roping’s biggest legends in action in Reno on that Monday. In addition to Hall-of-Famers Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper entering together again, roughly 110 of the other best teams in the world will try their luck on an 18-foot score but for lesser entry fees of $2,000 per man. The event is the second major for professional team ropers in three months, with the winners of the 2021 BFI Reno Open presented by Wild Rag Vodka guaranteed a $100,000 payday.
“Reno has always been a favorite destination of both fans and contestants, when you throw in all the additional activities, from Lake Tahoe to the nonstop nightlife and ‘Richest, Wildest Rodeo in the West,’” said Daren Peterson, who has owned the BFI with Corky Ullman for ten years. “Our return to Reno is shaping up to be another huge payout to the contestants on top of what they can win at World Series ropings and the gaming tables.”
Eight other amateur ropings are scheduled around the Reno Open after a 2020 hiatus from Reno thanks to the pandemic. Those events have again lured the likes of Colorado’s Dick Yates, who turns 84 this year. Just a few years ago in Reno, Yates – who like his son and grandson is a former NFR qualifier – earned $18,250 when he placed in both the 11.5 and 12.5 ropings in Reno.
Plenty of Californians, too, are primed to return, said Steve Simons of that state.
“I know a lot of people going to those World Series in Fallon that week, too,” he added. “It’s just that sense of being able to get out and go somewhere. As of June 15, they’ve finally opened up public places in our state, including fairgrounds.”
Sanger’s Buck Cardoza is primed to bring his son, Gavin, to the Hooey BFI Jr. Open and 10.5 ropings. Gavin, a 17-year-old 5.5 heeler, hasn’t had a lot of places to go outside local jackpots at private arenas, not to mention all the beaches and lakes and other public places being shut down.
“I like Reno because I feel like it’s where the BFI is supposed to be, you know?” said Buck, who shoes horses for a living. “It was a good thing for the industry to be able to keep it going in Oklahoma. But I love Reno – it has a small-town atmosphere while offering a whole lot of trouble to get into if you look for it. Everything’s so centrally located around the Silver Legacy and those other adjacent hotels that I can turn my kids loose to go to the arcade and we can play adult games in the casino. It’s really family-oriented.”
The upcoming roster of entries in the June 21 Reno Open – scheduled to air live on WranglerNetwork.com – will include current world No. 1 team Erich Rogers (a former BFI champ) with Paden Bray. Some new pairings will also hit Reno, including Derrick Begay heading for world champ and former BFI champ Cory Petska. Meanwhile, recent BFI champions Manny Egusquiza and Kory Koontz are expected to be in the mix, too, hoping to repeat their March feat.
Reno will welcome the brand-new Wild Rag Vodka party lounge within the Silver Legacy Resort & Casino’s Ruth’s Chris steakhouse (roper discounts on rooms are available with code “BFI21”). The customary Cowboy Auction and Dinner is free and open to the public, as well, inside the Silver Legacy on Sunday, June 20.
The final Reno Open roster will be posted by June 10, while entries are accepted on-site for all other ropings – Saturday’s Hooey Jr. Open and Jr. 10.5, Tuesday’s 12.5 Desert Showdown and 10.5 Reno Invitational, Wednesday’s 9.5 Over 40 and 8.5 Over 50, and Thursday’s Charlie 1 Horse WPRA All-Girl Ropings. Contestant entry details and stall reservations plus spectator news are all available at www.BFIReno.com.
By: Julie Mankin