TEAM ROPING 2015
The Lions Club Team Roping has been a springtime tradition in Three Rivers for 65 years. The first white settlers in the Three Rivers area were cattle ranchers, and the annual tradition of roping and branding continues to this day during the last weekend of April.
What began as a May Day picnic soon evolved into competitions involving horses and cattle. In the late 1930s, Lee Maloy and friends built a roping arena on the north end of the Three Rivers Airport on the Ogilvie property. Others involved in that endeavor were Forrest Homer, John Britten, Dick Britten, Earl McKee Sr., Kelly Ogilvie, Skinny Kirk, Jim Kindred, Ted Bartlett, and Joe Carmichael.
They began meeting on Sundays to rope at their new arena. Soon, cowboys were coming from miles around to participate in the weekly ritual.
In 1947, the Three Rivers Lions Club was organized. Lee and many of these same men were charter members.
In the 1950s, the Lions Club purchased the roping arena property from Kelly Ogilvie. Since then, the event has become more organized and attracted some of the best ropers in the sport, including celebrities such as actor Slim Pickens, a former rodeo clown, and Ben Johnson, Academy Award winner and former world champion team roper.
Lee Maloy was chairman of the event until 1963. Not only a great event organizer, Lee walked the walk and took home the 1953 championship buckle as the high-point roper.
Today, the annual Team Roping includes a branding competition and barrel racing, as well as Pee Wee categories for roping and barrel racing. It is the Three Rivers Lions Club's major fundraiser of the year.
All part of the event these days are informational and product vendors on-site, barbecue dinners, breakfast, lunch, snacks, full bar, live band and western dance on Saturday night, and Cowboy Church on Sunday morning. It is now a four-day event, held the last Thursday through Sunday of April.