Bios, personnel – Elk City 2018


Wayne Brooks –rodeo announcer

The man calling the action behind the mic at the 80th annual Elk City Rodeo of Champions is none other than Wayne Brooks.

Brooks, a six-time PRCA Announcer of the Year winner and a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) announcer, has been working the Elk City rodeo since 2009.

He was born in Arizona but grew up in Wyoming and Montana, moving with the family as his dad worked for a western apparel company, opening new stores for them. He competed in the bareback riding for a while, but the announcer bug bit. In 1994, he got his PRCA card and since then, has announced rodeos across North America, both big and small.

Brooks loves coming to Elk City and admires the passion and fortitude of the volunteers who produce the rodeo. “There’s a feeling of community,” he said. “There are second and third generations on the committee who work hard to make sure the rodeo happens every year. To see that pride come out, it’s a great thing.” Brooks realizes his livelihood depends on rodeo volunteers like those at Elk City. “All of us in the rodeo business appreciate the volunteers. They’re the most important group of people we have. Without them, we would be nowhere.”

He has been married to his wife Melanie for 26 years; they have three children. Their oldest, a daughter, is married; their second child, also a daughter, graduated from Texas A&M in May of 2017 with a communications degree, and their son, who is a sophomore in high school, thinks about baseball “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Brooks said. The boy also tie-down ropes on the side, which his dad is encouraging. “He wants to lean towards the roughstock events, but if I can keep him towards the timed events, there’s more longevity in it.”

The Lampasas, Texas man loves his iced tea, and when he’s driving, likes to listen to talk radio. “Anything to keep my brain clicking along is a good thing for me. It doesn’t really matter what they’re talking about, as long as they’re talking.”


Beutler & Son Rodeo Co., stock contractors

When the Beutler family brings their bulls and horses to the Rodeo of Champions, they’re not far from home.

Bennie and his son Rhett travel the nation nearly year-round, taking livestock to rodeos.

But for Labor Day weekend, they’re close to home.

The Beutler family began in the rodeo business in 1929.

Now, nearly ninety years later, their animals are still excelling.

Wound Up, a saddle bronc, was voted the 2017 Saddle Bronc of the Year, and Killer Bee, another saddle bronc, was the top saddle bronc for the 2013 and 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeos.

At the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Beutler and Son Rodeo Co. had six bareback horses, four saddle bronc horses, and four bulls selected to buck.

Rhett works alongside his dad Bennie, and now the fifth generation of Beutlers: Rhett and his wife Tracy’s kids Taylor and Jake, are helping out.

When the kids, ages fourteen and eleven respectively, aren’t busy with school and sports, they’re helping out on the ranch. “They help work bulls and cows,” Rhett said, “and they pick out the ones they like.”

The kids are good help. They are on horseback, helping move cattle and horses, and Rhett can send Taylor out to do jobs while he’s within sight.

Rhett has never missed a year of the Rodeo of Champions in Elk City, and he loves his hometown rodeo. “You live here, but you always see people at the rodeo, that it’s the only time of the year you see them. Everybody comes by and says ‘hi’, and the whole town comes together.” 

For more information, visit their website at BeutlerandSonRodeo.com.


The One Arm Bandit John Payne, specialty act

When the One Arm Bandit rides into the arena, anything can happen.

John Payne isn’t scared of too much, he can train nearly any species of bovine or equine, and when it comes to near-dying, he’s done that, too.

The outlaw rancher, wild animal trainer and rodeo entertainer has trained buffalo, longhorn-Watusi crosses, and paint mustangs from the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and he’ll bring them to Elk City to entertain.

He rides his mule into the arena, and with only one arm (he lost the other in an electrocution accident in 1973), he pops a bullwhip as he rounds up his buffalo, Watusis or mustangs, and drives them to the top of his custom-made trailer. Then he follows them up to the top of the trailer and spins them around, all while popping a bullwhip. “Anytime you can put longhorns or buffalo on the top of a trailer, people love that,” he said. “Everybody loves buffalo, cowboys and Indians.”

John has won the PRCA’s Specialty Act of the Year award fifteen times, half as many years as he’s had his PRCA membership. He’s entertained rodeo fans from coast to coast and around the world, doing his act for the Sultan of Oman in Muscat, Oman in 2011. He has been to the Elk City Rodeo of Champions several times, the last time in 2014.

The One Arm Bandit’s website is www.theonearmbandit.net.


Weston Rutkowksi, bullfighter

For the third year, “the beard” will show up in Elk City.

“Fear the Beard,” Weston Rutkowski, will work as a bullfighter at the Rodeo of Champions.

Rutkowski, who hails from Cleburne, Texas, has been fighting bulls for the past seven years.

The 29 year-old cowboy played college football for a short time, but when he realized he wouldn’t be seeing much playing time, switched over to bullfighting.

Like many of his colleagues, he’s careful about his athletic training, working out twice a day when he’s home. In the morning, it’s footwork drills and cardio, and in the evening, he lifts.

He’s also careful about what he eats. “I used to not be aware of it, but now I am,” Rutkowski said. “I’m trying to make my career as long as possible, so the healthier I am, the better off I am.” He tries to stay away from fried foods, and he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but he’s also realistic. “A man can only say no to Mexican food so many times,” he joked.

He enjoys coming to Elk City, appreciating the fans. “It’s a very rodeo savvy town,” he said. “They pack (the stands) every night.” He also likes watching the livestock. Beutler horses and bulls “get a break,” he said. “The stock benefits from being close to home and not have to be hauled so far.”

To get through all night drives, Rutkowski grabs a bag of salsa verde Doritos and a Red Bull. “When I’m on the road late at night, and I can’t stop and eat healthy, that’s what I grab. I can drive all night” with those. He’s not ready to quit his rodeo career yet, but when he does, he’ll have a second career ready, as a personal trainer; he’s working on getting his personal trainer
license.

He loves what he does. “I love this job. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m getting to live my dream.” He’s also realistic, though; he’ll need another career after bullfighting is over. He’s working on getting his personal trainer license.

Chuck Swisher – bullfighter

For Chuck Swisher, the Elk City Rodeo is nearly his hometown gig.

The Dover, Okla. man lives two hours from town, and his parents live about twenty miles north of Elk City.

During the year, he travels from coast to coast, working as a bullfighter across the nation. But when he’s in Elk City, he loves his family being able to attend the rodeo. “It’s cool to have your family there,” he said. “It’s so much more enjoyable because everybody’s there.”

Swisher’s dad rode bulls, and he considered doing the same, but didn’t. “I was too scared to get on one,” he said. “I thought fighting them wouldn’t be as scary.” Fighting bulls has a lot more advantages than riding them, he says. The bull riders “know how to ride them, but when they get off, they only know how to run as fast as they can. We know how to maneuver around them. We can do our job and get away.”

When he’s on the rodeo trail, Swisher likes to get off the beaten path and do different things. He’s hiked mountains in Oregon, fly fished in the Rockies, and driven mopeds up a mountain. While in Estes Park, Colo., he and friends rented mopeds and drove them through Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a blast, he remembers. “We went 10 miles an hour going up, and coming down, we were going 40. All the tourists were sitting behind us, waiting to pass these little bitty mopeds.” Sitting in hotel rooms or trailers isn’t for him. “You have to get out and do something and explore.”

Swisher, the youngest in his family, has a bevy of nieces and nephews who love their Uncle Chuck. He loves to play with them. “I like to get rowdy and wrestle around,” he said. “And when it’s time for me to quit, it’s time for them to go home and their parents can deal with them. That’s what I love about being an uncle. I can always give them back.” Swisher’s brother Seth lives in Elk City.

In his off-time Swisher works as a personal trainer. He has a class called “Shred with Swish” that lasts for seven weeks. “I love to work out,” he said. “So not only do I get to do that, I get to teach other people. My goal isn’t to make money but to make people healthier and have a healthier lifestyle.”

The personal training may be something he falls back on after his rodeo career is over. “You have to put your heart and soul into rodeo,” he said, “but at the end of the day, or tomorrow, or in fifteen years, Chuck’s not going to be able to rodeo. There’s a hell of a bigger picture than just rodeo. It can be life, but at the end of the day, if you can’t rodeo, what are you going to do?”

Not only is his family able to attend the Elk City rodeo, but the quality of the rodeo is a reason he loves Elk City. “It’s a family-run show, and you know people by name.” The big shows are good for concerts and the big lights, “but at the end of the day, it’s nice to get to where you’re not just friends during the rodeo.”