Rodeo developed slowly in the beginning, but as it gained
momentum and began to have some consistency in the format, judging
and prize money, the sport really shifted in to high gear and it was
full steam ahead. One of
the most important parts of rodeo, other than the competitors, was
the rodeo producer. He
could make or break a rodeo. The
‘suitcase’ producers that used to promise big and deliver
nothing, by leaving town before anyone discovered their absence,
were soon recognized. Word
spread quickly about these shysters and it didn’t take long until
they were drummed out of the sport.
Colonel W. T. Johnson, was the premier rodeo
producer and had some of the biggest rodeos in the country by
the 1930. These included
, and many points in between. All
ready a successful and wealthy rancher and former banker, he had a
flair for publicity and knew how to attract people who weren’t
rodeo fans to come see a rodeo performance.
He took a paint pony to the top of the
with an elevator load of photographers.
He donated proceeds from the rodeo to the New York City Milk
Fund for Children. The
one thing Colonel Johnson would not budge on, however, was the
amount of money he paid in prize money.
No matter how hard the cowboys argued they weren’t being
paid fairly when they ‘got in the money’ Johnson stubbornly
would not consider uping the purses.
Because of Johnson’s stubborn decision the cowboys secretly
formed the Cowboy’s Turtle Association, and at Boston Gardens, in
1936, when they finally made themselves known and refused to
participate, the manager
of the event insisted that Colonel Johnson give everyone attending
their money back and abide by the cowboys request for better purses.
Whether this event and the fact that he did have to comply to
the cowboy’s wishes broke the Colonel’s spirit and enthusiasm
for rodeo, or if he was truly ready to retire and do other things,
we will never know. This
was his last rodeo and the following year he sold his World
Championship Rodeo, lock, stock and barrel, to Everett Colborn, Bill
Clemens, Twain Clemens, and Harry Knight.
The company consisted of 150 saddle horses, 150 bucking
horses, 50 Brahma bulls, 100 head of bulldogging cattle, 90 calves,
50 wild cows, 110 saddles and various other equipment.
Everett Colborn had been Johnson’s Arena Director as well
as a judge for many years prior to the sale. He
bought a 14,000 acre ranch near
, and moved the rodeo
company to it’s new location called the Lightning C Ranch.
Colborn was a different kind of man than Johnson, in many
ways. Foghorn Clancy,
who was considered the very first rodeo announcer and also produced
rodeos and a well
thought of publicity man for rodeo, said about Colborn, in an
article he wrote in the Hoofs & Horns magazine in December,
1938, “Everett Colborn, a
man with a graceful personality – he has climbed to the top of his
chosen profession, to the top of the roughest of all rough sports
and has carried with him and still retains a most gentle
disposition, but as he would say, ‘On with the show’.”
Everett Colborn was born near DeLama,
July 26, 1892
. His father, Mark
Colborn, was a rancher and horse trainer.
At the age of five he was given a pony and a cowboy outfit, a
Christmas gift from his dad, with an oversized toy cap pistol, a
gift from the ranch hands.
immediately became the self-appointed sheriff of the bunk house and
Colborn became quite a ranch hand and helped with the
branding of the horses and cattle on his dad’s ranch and for
neighboring ranches. Ranchers
would sometimes give him a horse in return for his help and by the
age of fifteen he owned several horses, which he traded for a dozen
calves and started his own herd.
When his dad decided to move to
he bought his dad’s ranch.
Colborn was a good roper and could win some money at rodeos.
It didn’t take long before the ‘rodeo bug’ had bitten
him, and he began to rent his stock to the little rodeos around the
area. Later he furnished
stock to larger rodeos. He
even began directing rodeos for various rodeo committees.
In 1935 he formed a partnership with J. C. ‘Doc’ Sorensen
and produced rodeos throughout the Northwest.
Two years later he formed another partnership with Knight and
the Clemens brothers. Gene
Autry was also a partner at one time and performed at the Colborn
rodeos, as did Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and many other
and musical persona.
Colborn had a string of good bucking horses.
He had an ability to recognize a potentially good bucker
although he made no special fanfare about them.
There was Hells Angels and Chief Tyhee, who were both chosen
for the Honor Roll of Great Bucking Horses.
Many rodeo people highly respected Everett Colborn.
Gerald Roberts called him the greatest rodeo producer of all
time. Glenn Ohrlin said,
“He was a classy guy running the classiest outfit there was.”
Many commented that he never made a scene, but sat quietly on
his horse in the arena and observed.
He hired men that he knew could get the job done, and then
let them do it. Some of
those men were Alvin Gordon, Pete Kerscher and Charlie Ben Bradberry.
In September of 1928 he married Ava Lenon of Blackfoot,
. They had two
daughters, RoseMary, and four years later, Carolyn.
Both girls were active in the rodeo.
Carolyn was selected by the American Milk Foundation to be
photographed for their advertisements promoting the benefits of milk
for children. Her beauty
and healthy good looks was the key.
RoseMary rode in
the Quadrille, one of Colborn’s specialties, a square dance act on
horseback, during the rodeo and eventually married Harry Tompkins,
World Champion All-Around Cowboy.
Everett Colborn was well thought of in the rodeo world, by
the competing cowboys and cowgirls, the people who worked for him,
and the various people around the country who were on rodeo
committees that dealt with him.
He retired in 1960 and spent the rest of his life in
. He died
March 20, 1972
Click here for article on the Dublin
Rodeo Heritage Museum
is having a dinner on November 13 to give the Dublin Rodeo Honors
awards to the following recipients this year;
Riley – daughter of Tad Lucas, who was in the rodeo arena when she
was one year old. Mom,
Tad, put her in her big hat and rode around the arena with her.
Mitzi got her first paycheck at the age of six by trick
riding with her mother. They
trained their own horses, made their own costumes and traveled the
country from their base in
. She later married
Lanham Riley, a calf roper, and they continued to rodeo for some
time. Both have spent a
life promoting rodeo.
Berva Dawn Taylor – daughter of Doc Sorenson, Colborn’s
first partner. She grew
up in rodeo and thinks her first grand entry was when she was age
Salt Lake City
. Later she carried the
colors during rodeos with her sister, she also worked the rodeo
office. In 1949 she was
chosen as a sponsor girl to go to
and promote the
rodeo. She and Gene
Autry went to schools and hospitals to promote the rodeo.
She married Dan Taylor, a rodeo cowboy, and they moved to
to work for Everett Colborn’s World Championship Rodeo
Dan Taylor – born and raised at
. He learned to rope
early and won his first rodeo prize at
. Later he worked for
Everett Colborn and he and wife, Berva Dawn, moved to
to assist. He won many
roping contests, was pickup man and chute boss.
He has been chute boss of Chute 9, the roping and bull
dogging chute, at
Cheyenne Frontier Days for
fifty some years. He now
is the fourth generation of
to run the family ranch at Doole.
Mary Ann Mayfield Stephen was a trick rider, rope specialist
and member of the Quadrille, appearing
at the Dublin Rodeo many times.
Born and raised at
she promoted the rodeo throughout the area.
She was chosen as a Sponsor Girl to go to
and promote the rodeo there.
C. Buck Evans, worked as a pick up man and chute boss for the
World Championship Rodeo, traveling on the Rodeo Train from
and on to
. In the off season he
was foreman of the Lightning C Ranch, Colborn’s rodeo stock ranch,
. He was also a rodeo
competitor and made a significant contribution to rodeo.
Please plan to attend this affair.
For further information contact Amy McDonald at 254-445-0200