The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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April 3, 2014

2014 WALKER COUNTY FAIR AND RODEO — Ropers glad to be competing in Texas

HUNTSVILLE — They may have called it “Slack Thursday” but these cowboys are anything but slackers. Far from it, actually.

On average, a full-time roper might travel anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 miles a year looking to cash in on various events.

This time of the year, cowboys from Texas get the convenience of not having to travel outside of the state to compete and make a few bucks.

A lot of the Texas guys don’t really hit the road hard until June, when they encounter some of the longer all-night trips and the thousands of miles begin to add up.

Huntsville native and Madisonville resident Colby Lovell has competed in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas for the past four years, but says no one out there competing wants to be close to home as badly as he does.

Lovell, who along with his partner Martin Lucero placed second at Thursday’s team roping event (5.6 score), had a good winter and hopes to carry it into spring and summer.

The Sam Houston State Universtiy alum earned $110,526 in 2013, including $48,828 at the NFR.

Walker County’s event is special because it allows him the opportunity to be closer to his 3-month-old daughter.

“This time of year is a good time for me because it’s close to the house, which is a good confidence builder,” Lovell said. “When you leave out in June and you’re gone for that whole time, you don’t get to see your family much, unless they go with you and that’s hard. When you don’t do well and you’re 25 hours from the house and you don’t get to practice, just seeing your child or your wife, it eases the pain so much quicker.

“Just staying focused and believing in yourself is the biggest deal. For me, I don’t believe I’d leave the house if I thought I wasn’t going to make the NFR, if I wasn’t going to be able to do my job.”

Kinney Harrell says he’s been coming to the Walker County Fair and Rodeo for at least 10 years, if not longer.

He loves the job committee members do of making sure there is good stock in all events, not just the team roping, in which Harrell competed Thursday.

“The arena it set up well and the ground is always good,” Harrell said. “It’s good sand. It doesn’t matter the weather and it seems like this time of year there’s always a chance of rain. And I’ve been rained on quite a bit, but it doesn’t impact the consistency of the dirt in the arena.

 “A lot of arenas are harder than this one. This is soft and deeper than a lot of arenas that we go to, which is a good thing that it’s soft.”

After doing his research, Harrell estimated the rodeo in Walker County could yield him and partner Kelsey Parchman around $2,400 apiece.

The duo was left out of the top eight of Thursday’s action, which means they came up empty on the $151 entry fee investment. But the hustle remains consistent and they’ll keep roping their way through competition.

“You’ve got to have self-confidence,” Harrell said. “Before you go to put up your own money, as soon as you leave your house, there’s fuel, food for yourself and your horse. All of that factors in. You’ve got to prepare. It’s like anything else in competitive sports. You’ve got to prepare yourself physically and mentally.

“I’d say the biggest thing about this and probably any competition, you’ve got to have a good attitude and good outlook. If I don’t do well here today, I can’t let that affect me tomorrow when I go to the next one. You’ve got to put that in the past and move on because throughout the weekend, we can lose at three of them, but the last one we have a chance to make our money back and make some more. It’s about preparation.”

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Texas Department of Public Safety troopers work to measure out and recreate the scene of a fatal accident at the intersection of Interstate 45 and Highway 30 on Thursday afternoon. The accident happened on June 8 when a Huntsville man was struck and killed by a car while trying to cross I-45.

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