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2016-03-17

Bandera’s world champ roper honored – again!

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Photo by Judith Pannebaker
From left, Bandera County Judge Richard Evans and Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson congratulated Bandera’s favorite trick and fancy roper, Kevin Fitzpatrick, after presenting him with the prestigious 2016 Distinguished Service Award.



Bandera’s world champion trick and fancy roper – and longtime tourism ambassador – received an accolade last week. So, he can put another notch on his Stetson – or Resistol or Bailey.
For his tireless promotion of peace and goodwill – not to mention, good times! – Kevin Fitzpatrick received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from Bandera County Commissioners Court during a regular meeting on Thursday, March 10.
Donning her sister-city partnership with Poland and Ukraine association hat, Elenora Dugosh Goodley explained the award was initiated 12 years ago, with Fitzpatrick being the latest recipient that have included Polish Priest Father Adnrej Kowolik, Judge Richard Evans, Bandera’s Erin Gray, Gerald and Harriet Payne and musician Dave Kemp, among others.
In 2008, Fitzpatrick earned the title World Champion Trick and Fancy Roper. After learning about the honor, he noted, “I’ve been introduced as that for so long that I’m finally glad I got the real title!”
He was born in Ohio in 1958, the son of Bud and Mary Fitzpatrick. The family relocated to the Cowboy Capital of the World in 1980. Fitzpatrick learned to rope using just a worn-out lariat and a book of rope tricks given to him by his father.
The worn out rope and book of tricks appears to have served him well. For many years, Fitzpatrick served as an ambassador at the Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio. During the 2009 celebration of the National Day of the American Cowboy, he was inducted into the Frontier Times Museum Texas Hall of Heroes – not coincidentally, followed by his father in 2014.
Along with his paint horse, Chief, Fitzpatrick has performed trick roping demonstrations both locally and in San Antonio; at area guest and dude ranches; the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo; and the grand opening of Planet Hollywood on the River Walk in San Antonio, among other venues.
In March 2011, Bandera’s favorite cowboy entertainer was featured prominently in a striking full-color spread in an issue of Texas Highways magazine, entitled, “Griff Smith’s Texas Photo Moments.”
In his travels around the Lone Star State, Smith, then photography editor for the magazine, collected images that “could well serve as a collection of short stories about the people and places of Texas.”
For the photo shoot at Bandera’s Dixie Dude Ranch, Smith asked Fitzpatrick to “swing his rope toward the camera.” With a grin as wide as Texas, Fitzpatrick happily obliged. In fact, according to Smith, Fitzpatrick smiled in every frame.
Not to be outdone, the folks at the Flying L Guest Ranch dedicated the “Kevin Fitzpatrick Room” at the popular ranch. There’s no doubt that eventually, the “Kevin Fitzpatrick Room” will rank right up there with the John Wayne Room at the OST restaurant as one of the things tourists must not miss when visiting Bandera.
Additionally, he has delighted audiences around the world with his charm and skill. And, as a designated Tourism Ambassador for the Lone Star State, Fitzpatrick has undertaken good will tours and performances in England, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Kuwait. While in Munich, Germany, he set the 2000 Guinness World Book of Records for the most Texas Rope Jumps. He accompanied then Gov. Rick Perry to the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.
Inside the beltway, Fitzpatrick performed at the 2001 Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball for President George W. Bush in Washington, DC, and, closer to home, at the Dean Smith Celebrity Rodeo in Abilene.
Presenting Fitzpatrick with the prestigious award on behalf of the commissioners, County Judge Richard Evans noted, “Well, Kevin, you didn’t do too badly for someone born in Ohio.”