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Bandera's rodeo roots

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Staff Writer

Although sidelights include a parade and arts and crafts fair, the centerpiece for Bandera's approaching Memorial Day weekend is undoubtedly the three-day Cowboy Capital Rodeo Association PRCA Rodeo held at Mansfield Park on Highway 16 North.

Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, the body determining the sport's gold standard, the CCRA Memorial Day weekend was designated one of the country's best small rodeos in 2002. The action begins at 8 pm, Friday through Sunday, May 24, 25 and 26.

Bandera's first advertised rodeo was held at Mansfield Park in 1924. Appropriately enough, the park is named for "Uncle Ed" Mansfield, who not only owned that particular tract of land, but was a calf and steer roper, as well as a rodeo producer of some note.

Uncle Ed's nephew, Toots Mansfield, was, by all accounts, another tough rodeo competitor. Inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1981, Mansfield was the World Champion Calf Roper in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1945, 1948 and 1951.

Other great rodeo cowboys hailing from Bandera County include 1956 World Champion Calf Roper Ray Wharton, as well as Buddy Groff, Todd Whitewood, Scooter Fries, Clay Billings, Jimmy Adams and Clint Singleton. A monument on the courthouse lawn, designed by the late artist Norma Jean Anderwald, pays homage to all local rodeo champions.

While not a native, 1964 National Finals Rodeo Champion Bull Rider Bob Wegner also calls Bandera his home. A contemporary of rodeo legends Jim Shoulders and Larry Mahan, Wegner occasionally holds court during celebration weekends in Bandera, giving informal tutorials to aspiring bull riders.

Prior to his death, local rodeo legend Ernest H. Beakley, a bull and bareback rider, was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Other rodeo greats who hung their Stetsons in Bandera for a spell include six-time World All-Around Champion Mahan, who has since vamoosed for Colorado's more temperate climate. Additionally, seven-time World Team Roping Champion, Clay O'Brien Cooper lived in the Cowboy Capital - even if just for a nanosecond or two.

Pictured: Bob Wegner, Pendleton Roundup, early 1960s.

Clint Singleton of Medina has placed in several PRCA rodeos from Oakdale, Calif. to Deadwood, S.D.
Here Singleton ropes off of Captain in Sonora.