Arts and Entertainment

Thunderbird Pro Rodeo back for sixth year

The Thunderbird Pro Rodeo takes over the Kitsap Fairgrounds June 25-27 to benefit Corey
The Thunderbird Pro Rodeo takes over the Kitsap Fairgrounds June 25-27 to benefit Corey's Day on the Farm and the Northwest Burn Foundation.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Jim Oas

What started as a small charity rodeo has burgeoned into an award-winning event in Kitsap County.

The Thunderbird Pro Rodeo, now in its sixth year, hosts some of the region’s best rodeo athletes and livestock in a three-day benefit for Corey’s Day on the Farm and the Northwest Burn Foundation.

Riding and roping events, music, a beer garden and food and merchandise vendors will be staged at the Kitsap Fairgrounds, 1200 Fairgrounds Road NW, Bremerton, Friday through Sunday, June 25-27.

The Thunderbird Pro Rodeo was named Best Rodeo in 2007 by the National Professional Rodeo Association. In 2009, more than 200 competitors entered the rodeo, which aims to emulate the “spirit of the West.”

“There’s nothing better than the smell of dust and cow manure,” said producer Dan Crook. “It’s the West, it’s romanticized.”

Crook is one of roughly 50 volunteers who help put on the show, including the Kitsap Wranglers and the Thunderbird Cowgirls, 13 women who raise awareness for the rodeo at area events, and who will perform a flag routine to open the show.

“That’s worth showing up for,” Crook said.

He and other organizers are looking to attract a bigger crowd than ever before; last year, 3,500 people attended, which allowed the rodeo to donate $3,500 to each of its beneficiaries. Unlike most rodeos, Thunderbird Pro Rodeo isn’t held alongside a county fair or town event.

At Corey’s Day on the Farm, money raised by the rodeo goes to purchase T-shirts, picture frames and various equipment for the more than 1,100 special needs kids that attend, as well as lunch for the kids and their guardians, said Coleta Corey of Silverdale. She founded Corey’s Day on the Farm with her husband, Nick Corey, in 1968.

Corey’s Day on the Farm allows kids of all ages with emotional, developmental and physical special needs to spend a day riding horses, petting animals and taking haystack rides at the fairgrounds. Self-esteem is boosted as the youngsters learn new skills.

“Anything we can think of that makes it better for those children, that’s where the money goes,” Corey said.

Corey’s son, Colen Corey, helped bring the Thunderbird Pro Rodeo to life. Colen works as a rodeo announcer, while another of the Corey’s sons, Clint Corey, claimed the World Bareback Champion title in 1991.

“It’s in the blood, you might say,” Corey joked.

Stock for the Thunderbird Pro Rodeo comes from Golden Buckle Rodeo in Eastern Washington, which has sent animals to national competition.

Port Orchard’s Acoustic Reflections will play Friday and Saturday.

A regular ticket costs $10; kids get in for $5. Seniors and military members on Friday and Saturday receive a $2 discount from the general price.

On Sunday, admission is free to active and retired military members and their families.

Learn more at WU

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