22 Years of Strait Roping
By Marilyn E. Short

Who would have thought a small family-run, open roping would turn into the largest 2-day team roping in the country? Back in 1983 brothers George and Buddy Strait created the George Strait Team Roping Classic in Kingsville, Texas. That first year the GSTRC began as a regional event for south Texas ropers and George’s wife, Norma and Buddy’s wife Denise took tickets and George and Buddy set up tables and chairs.

The Strait brothers were raised in Pearsall, Texas, but grew up helping out on the 2,000-acre family ranch in nearby Big Wells. Weekends and summers John Strait taught his sons how to ride and schooled them on cattle.

Strait started teaching himself to rope in his early 20s while attending Southwest Texas State University. By learning on the fly, Strait confesses that he picked up some not so great habits and continuously struggles to overcome some of these to this day. Strait believes it is best to have a good instructor teach the fundamentals early on so you don’t take your bad habits with you as you progress. Strait credits his good friend, 3 time National Rodeo Finals qualifier, Bret Beach, with teaching him the most about the sport of team roping.

Strait raises Quarter Horses and roping cattle on his south Texas ranch, roping every day when he’s not on the road…he’s that dedicated to the sport. The ranch has a few head of Corriente cattle, but they are moving towards raising their own roping cattle, as it’s more difficult to get them out of Mexico these days.

The Strait ranch also has a few Quarter Horse broodmares that are bred to Strait’s stallion, Zan Silver Parr. Zan Silver Parr is by Zan Parr Bar, 3x World Champion and bred by Carol Rose. Zan Silver Parr is a 1986 Gray Stallion with 124 points in Calf Roping, Heading, and Healing.

“I’ve had some really nice Zan Par Bar bred horses in the past,” said Strait. “Right now my main stick is a Sorrel Zan Parr Joker bred horse at about 15.1 hands. I also have a really nice Shining Spark bred horse that I like a lot at about 15.2 hands. That’s pretty much the size I like. I’ve seen some bigger horses that are still very athletic, and wouldn’t be opposed to riding one, but that’s just my preference.”

Ranching, roping and producing one of the largest roping events earned George Strait the honor of being inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. George was inducted with greats such as Guy Allen, Joe Beaver, Lindy Burch, Jim Bynum (1924-1999), Adam Carrillo, Gillbert Carrillo, Roy Cooper “Super Looper”, Quail Dobbs, Dr. J. Pat Evans, Kay Floyd, Clyde Frost, Lane Frost (1963-1989), Debbie Garrision, Walt Garrison Don Gay, Neal Gay, Kay Gay, J.J. Hampton, Tuff Hedeman, Charmayne James, Jerry Jetton, R.E. and Martha Josey, Cody Lambert, Phil Lyne, Larry Mahan, Bob Moorhouse, Mike Mowrey, Ty Murray, Cody Ohl, Fay Ramsey, Mitzi Lucas Riley, Matlock Rose, Jim Sharp, Harry Tompkins, Tooter Waites, W.R. Watt (1900 – 1977), Bob Watt, Jr., Guy Weeks, Buster Welch, Sheila Welch, Greg Welch, Fred Whitfield and Kobie Wood…not bad company and well-deserved.

It’s not an easy task keeping up with the growth of the GSTRC. The event was moved to the San Antonio Rose Palace in 2000 and while they were making changes, Strait also decided to move the event from June to March, a much cooler time of the year for the ropers, horses and spectators.

The facility seats close to 2,500 with 527 stalls and the preparations and planning for the event starts months in advance. The experienced staff at the Rose Palace don’t have a whole lot of time before the Alamo Quarter Horse Breeders Show ends on March 14 to get the facility ready for the GSTRC…that’s only 4 days in between events!

The entire facility needs to be cleaned and any repairs made that may be necessary after the AQHBA show from stalls to parking lot…not an easy task. Additional seating must be brought in and panels and chutes set up. Arena B must leveled out, rolled and packed with each vendor space clearly marked and electrical and phone lines run to the spaces as needed. Vendor space is limited to 50 vendors and they come from all over the United States for this 2-day event.

The facility must hire an additional 15 employees to assist with concessions – along with additional security officers for round-the-clock coverage of the entrances, vender area, horses, and parking.

With an event of this size and due to liability and security issues, participants must rent stalls for their horses and not tie to their trailers. With the increased traffic and door-to-door parking, it’s dangerous to have horses and riders going to and from trailers and in between vehicles.

Not only has the event grown in the number of teams competing, but also in the number of spectators, vendors, and sponsors who attend and participate. The GSTRC has grown each year with the first year pulling in 137 teams and there were 642 teams for last year’s event awarding $300,000 in cash and prizes. Each year the stakes get higher and aspiring amateurs compete against some of the most famous roping professionals for huge cash purses and prizes like last year’s dually trucks sponsored by Cavender Chevrolet and Bruton’s “Easy-Pull” trailers.

Cavender Chevrolet of Boerne, Texas, will once again sponsor the 2004 GSTRC, awarding Chevy dually trucks. Bruton trailers will also be given away to the first place team.

Tractor Supply Company will furnish Twister Saddles for the event Runner-Ups, and Gist Buckles will provide buckles for the third place team.

One of the most interesting events within the roping is the H.E.B. Red Wrapped Steer Challenge. Ropers will be able to earn up to $40,000 in added money if they have the best time of the round on one of the red wrapped steers sponsored by H.E.B. During the final three rounds two of the top fifty ropers have a chance to win $10,000 in the first round. If no one wins the first round it doubles to $20,000 in the second round. In the third round that amount doubles to $40,000. In each round there are ten steers out of fifty that are red wrapped – it’s the luck of the draw…and the roper’s skill!

The San Antonio Express-News will sponsor Friday’s first two go-rounds and Bill Miller’s Bar-B-Q will sponsor Saturday’s activities. Brake Check will sponsor the entertainment between go-rounds on Saturday. McCormick’s Foods and Spices and Georgia-Pacific’s Brawny Towels are new sponsors for the 2004 GSTRC, while Cactus Ropes, Wranger, Justin, Resistol Hats and Classic Ropes return as sponsors. In addition, U.S. Tobacco is bringing their outstanding electronic scoreboard back so fans can more easily follow the scoring and standings for each round.

For more information about how you can register to rope or obtain tickets to the March 19 and 20th GSTRC, visit www.GSTRC.com.

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