Hall’ of a weekend: Professional rodeo’s shrine plays host to ceremony to welcome Class of 2006
Courtesy PRCA

 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The ProRodeo Hall of Fame and the Museum of the American Cowboy will be seven members larger come July 15. That’s when the 2006 class, made up of seven deserving people, will be officially inducted at a 10 a.m. MT ceremony at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo.

        This year’s class consists of: two-time bull riding world champion Jim Sharp; six-time Wrangler NFR bullfighter Rob Smets in the contract personnel category; 1982 all-around world champion and 1986 tie-down roping world champion Chris Lybbert in the all-around category; 1960 world champion steer wrestler Bob A. Robinson in the steer wrestling category; long-time rodeo supporters John and Mildred Farris in the notables category; and the late Doc Sorensen in the stock contractor category.

        The seven new members will bring the total number of inductees to 189 people and 23 animals. The induction ceremony, will be preceded by a special evening reception on Friday, July 14.

        “We at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame are very proud to have such an outstanding class of Inductees for 2006,” said ProRodeo Hall of Fame Executive Director Larry McCormack. “It will be a true privilege to honor these individuals for their personal accomplishments and their profound influences in the professional rodeo world. The new inductees are great representatives of their respective fields of endeavor, and should bring a large cross section of fans to the induction ceremonies.”

        A nine-member Hall of Fame Selection Committee selected the seven inductees in March at a meeting at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.

        Induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame is considered the highest accolade in the sport. While more than 100 nominations are submitted annually, only a small percentage are selected to join this elite group.

        More than 50,000 visitors annually visit the 30,000 square-foot facility that is located adjacent to the national headquarters of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and on a 20-acre site in Colorado Springs.

Class of 2006 ProRodeo Hall of Fame Profiles
John and Mildred Farris
        Mildred Farris is a five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo secretary, five-time Wrangler NFR assistant secretary and a 15-time Wrangler NFR timer. She has been named PRCA Secretary of the Year eight times and served on the PRCA Contract Personnel Executive Council from 1988-2002.

        Mildred, a PRCA member since 1960, carried the American flag at the NFR opening ceremony in Oklahoma City, Okla., for 17 years and carried the flag at the 1997 NFR in Las Vegas for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame opening. She qualified for the NFR 12 times as a barrel racer and served as the GRA/WPRA director, vice-president and president from 1965-71.

        Mildred, who lives with John in Addington, Okla., was inducted into the Sul Ross Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1994 and was the WPRA Woman of the Year in 1996 and WPRA Secretary of the Year in 1998. In addition, she served as secretary for the Dodge Texas Circuit Finals for 17 years.

        John Farris, a PRCA member since 1959, competed in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding and tie-down roping from 1959-75. John has worked every Wrangler NFR in one capacity or another since 1967.

        He was the Texas Circuit Man of the Year in 1997 and has worked as a chute boss for the Dodge Texas Circuit Finals for 20 years. John received the WPRA’s Outstanding Individual Award in 1999 and won the Texas Circuit Best Footing Award in 2001.

        John set the barrel ropes at the Wrangler NFR for many years, worked as the NFR saddle horse boss for two years, the assistant roughstock event chute boss one year and as the timed-event chute boss for 17 years.

        Most recently, John and Mildred were inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in Belton, Texas, in 2004. The accolades have been a whirlwind for the couple.

        “It means a lot to us,” Mildred said. “It’s really special because we’ve worked all of these years side-by-side and have worked together on everything. To be honored with something like this, it’s really overwhelming.”

Chris Lybbert
        Lybbert was the PRCA’s world champion all-around cowboy in 1982 and the world champion tie-down roper in 1986, two out of five years he qualified for the NFR in both steer wrestling and tie-down roping. He qualified for the NFR a total of 14 times, five times in steer wrestling (1979-80, 1982-83 and 1986) and nine times in tie-down roping (1979-84, 1986, 1989-90).

        Lybbert has earned $1,167,090 in his storied career and in 1982 became the first PRCA cowboy to earn $100,000 prior to the NFR. He won the NFR tie-down roping average in 1980 and 1981 and the NFR steer wrestling average in 1982.

        The native Californian was the Sierra Circuit’s tie-down roping champion from 1978-80 and in 1982 and won the circuit’s steer wrestling title in 1979 and 1982. After moving to Texas, he won the Texas Circuit’s tie-down roping title in 1984 and the circuit’s all-around champion in 1986.

        “It was a surprise and a great honor,” Lybbert said. “I didn’t know if it was going to happen or not, but to get recognized by the people who select you, it’s rewarding and makes you feel good.”

        Lybbert, who attended Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif., and Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., will be inducted in the all-around category.

Bob A. Robinson
        Robinson won the PRCA’s steer wrestling world title in 1960, the same year he finished second in the all-around world standings to Harry Tompkins. He competed in the first two NFRs in saddle bronc riding and steer wrestling in 1959 and 1960.

        Robinson became one of the PRCA’s first pro officials in 1980 and became a rodeo administrator in 1983. It was in that capacity that he helped the PRCA move the NFR to its current home in Las Vegas in 1985.

        Robinson helped the PRCA work through major changes in his years as an administrator. He was a member of the original Wrangler Ring of Honor.

        Robinson and his wife, Emma, have two children, Ange and Jade. Jade recently retired as a PRCA official after a career that spanned more than two decades and that included more than 20 NFR appearances as a judge.

Jim Sharp
        Sharp, the 1988 and 1990 world champion bull rider, qualified for the NFR for six straight years from 1987-92. In 1988, he became the first man to successfully ride all 10 of his bulls at the NFR, a feat that helped him easily win the NFR average title.

        He repeated as NFR average champion in 1989 and was the overall and bull riding Resistol Rookie of the Year in 1986. Sharp’s 1986 earnings were a record for rookies at the time, and he was also the Texas Circuit bull riding champion and NIRA bull riding champion that year.

        Sharp, who now lives in Stephenville, Texas, won the NIRA bull riding title again in 1987 and was the AJRA bull riding champion in 1981 and from 1983-85. In 1991, he was the Texas Circuit bull riding champion and won the Texas high school all-around title in 1984.

Rob Smets
        Smets found out about his Hall of Fame selection less than two weeks after breaking his neck on March 3 at a PBR event for the third time in his 27-year career. Smets underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his C7 vertebra on March 8. Before the injury, he was set to retire after the PBR World Finals, Oct. 27-Nov. 5, in Las Vegas, but has said that his decision is now still up in the air.

        Smets, who lives in Merkel, Texas, was the Wrangler Bullfight Tour world champion in 1983, from 1985-86, in 1988 (co-champion) and in 1994. He is a six-time National Finals Rodeo bullfighter, a seven-time PBR World Championships bullfighter and a five-time NFR alternate bullfighter.

        He was a bullfighter in the 2002 Cultural Olympics and the 1980 Canadian Finals Rodeo. Smets has also won the Wrangler Pairs Bullfighting title with Jimmy Anderson.

        Smets was surprised and excited by the news of his induction.
        “That was a major shock,” Smets said of the news. “It’s as big an honor as a guy could have. To be inducted into a Hall that has people like Junior Meek, Quail Dobbs, Wick Peth, George Doak and Chuck Henson, it’s a great honor. I’ve been getting quite a few calls, and I could hear my dad’s chest swell up when I called and told him.”

        He and his wife, Carla, have four children: Corey, Josey, Sammy, and Dylan.

Doc Sorensen (1893-1984)
        Sorensen joined the PRCA in 1928 and was a man who wore many hats – veterinarian, football player, politician, legislator, law enforcement officer and cowboy. Sorensen, a National Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee in 1988, was born on Dec. 20, 1893, and died in May of 1984 in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

        In the early 1930s, Sorensen co-founded Colborn & Sorensen Rodeo Company with the late Everett Colborn. He was also the original founder and owner of Flying U Rodeo Company. Sorensen produced the Las Vegas Helldorado Rodeo for 17 years, the Caldwell (Idaho) Night Rodeo for 21 years and provided bucking stock and saddle horses for the Cheyenne Frontier Days for numerous years.

        Sorensen graduated from Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University), where he played on the football team, with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. He ran a veterinary practice for years and also served as a state brand inspector, an Idaho state legislator, campaign manager for the governor or Idaho, Idaho state director of law enforcement, mayor of Roberts, Idaho, director and manager of the Idaho State Fair and the grand marshal of that parade.

        He served as director of the Rodeo Association of America in 1937 and was named Jefferson County Senior Cattleman of the Year in 1981. He was honored at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo in 1990 and inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame in 2000.

        Sorensen married his high school sweetheart, Mabel Poole, and the couple had six children: Theda Sorensen Bellin; Dick Sorensen; Hadley Sorensen; Marie Sorensen Hunter; Billie Dee Sorensen Ekberg; and Berva Dawn Sorensen Taylor. His daughter, Berva, and granddaughter, Babette L. Taylor, are PRCA Gold Card members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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