Joyce Whitis

Well, rodeo fans, this is it! The big show is already under way in Las Vegas and by way of ESPN 2 and cell phone numbers of competitors and friends lucky enough to be there, we are expecting 10 days of excitement. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo gives us a chance to have several of the top cowboys and livestock in the world from this area competing on national television. This is the Super Bowl of rodeo, the World Series for cowboys. It doesn’t get any better for fans.

The awards banquet, preceding the first round introduced the winners as selected by PRCA contestants.

Rodeo photographer of the year was presented to Stephenville’s own Dudley Barker!

Dudley is in Las Vegas, making his 26th appearance photographing the action at the NFR. His DVD, A Lifetime of Rodeo, produced by Wild Horse Productions, includes images from the photographer’s 33 years of hanging out at rodeos. There are over four generations of rodeo performers on the disk. This DVD is a slideshow covering four decades of rodeo and can be purchased by contacting 

Dudley has spent most of his life after serving this country as a marine in Viet Nam, as a rodeo photographer. He said he came to Stephenville, started hanging out with cowboys and began taking pictures of them. His hobby turned into a career and it is great that his talent and dedication to “getting that shot” is being rewarded. Dudley’s photos appear regularly in the Empire-Tribune as a huge bonus for readers.

All rounds at the 2009 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will be telecast live on ESPN Classic with re-plays on ESPN2 at other times. Live telecasts begin each night at 9 p.m. central daylight time with the first performance scheduled for Thursday (tomorrow). The final and 10th performance will air at 10 p.m. Dec. 12 on ESPN2 with reruns on ESPN Classic. In spite of this information, it is a good idea to check your TV schedule from day to day.