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HARRY VOLD (AND “NECK LACE”)

Inducted in 2000

Harry voldHarry Vold, inductee to the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame, is an old hand at receiving accolades for his long service to the sport. His John Wayne-looks and demeanor prompted his colleagues to call him the “Duke of the Chutes.” The legendary Harry Vold of Fowler, Colorado, has been named ProRodeo Stock Contractor of the Year 11 times and was inducted into The PRCA Hall of Fame in 1994. His talent and his great string of broncs and bulls helped Ellensburg’s rodeo become one of the nation’s finest outdoor rodeos. The 79-year-old stockman provided Ellensburg’s performances with saddle broncs, bareback horses and bucking bulls from 1961 through 1989. The late Art Driver, who was Ellensburg’s “Mr. Rodeo” during much of that period, said of Vold, “He was the best at his trade – he knew rodeo, he knew his animals, he knew the cowboys and he knew how to make it all work. When things seemed to get tangled up, he straightened things out right now. Everyone listened and got busy when he rode up to the chutes and it was all business.” Ken MacRae, arena director who followed Driver in that key job–and an Ellensburg Rodeo director named in the recent past as national rodeo committeeman of the year–says, “Harry Vold helped make our rodeo one of the nation’s finest. His stock and his know-how put us among the best.” The Vold Rodeo Company, the largest in this business, provides livestock for eight of the top rodeos in the U.S. including Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Rodeo de Santa Fe (N. Mex.), National College Finals, Dodge City (Kans.) Rodeo, the all-Indian Finals in Window Rock, Ariz. and Prescott (Ariz.) Frontier Days. Many of his animals are used in the National Finals in Las Vegas. His work in Ellensburg’s arena was shared with the Christensen Bros., Oregon stockmen, who like most in the rodeo business praised Vold’s participation. “He built a reputation that can’t be rivaled,” says Bobby Christensen, who alongside his brother Hank, is also a member of the Ellensburg Hall of Fame. Vold’s celebrated career began in Alberta, Canada where, after a brief rough-stock riding challenge, he opted to be a stockman. He bought and sold bucking horses to other rodeo contractors before he began to put on his own rodeos as well as provide stock as far west as Washington and British Columbia and as far east as Toronto. He moved his business to the U.S. in 1967 leaving his Canadian operation to his son, Wayne. Vold first partnered with two names well known in rodeo circles, Beutler Brothers and Harry Knight, prior to a move to his Colorado ranch. Red Top Ranch, some 30,000 acres, is located east of Pueblo near the towns of Avondale and Fowler. While he has had bucking bulls of the year, Harry Vold takes the most pride in his bucking horses–those that he bred and raised as part of his “born to buck” program which dates to the early 1970’s. He realized early in his career that the supply of good bucking horse was dwindling and if he hoped to stay in business he’d have to breed his own. He breeds nearly 100 mares a year producing about 80 foals, and of those less than 30 percent go on to become bucking horses. A Western Horseman article quotes the Canadian turned Coloradoan: “People worry about the welfare of these (bucking) horses and bulls, and I’ll tell them at a rodeo like Cheyenne, each animal will buck no more than twice in 10 days; that’s 20 seconds of work in 10 days, not a bad life.” Vold willingly defends rodeo against its Gavin Ehringer, a free-lance writer, writes “Harry Vold is impressive when the spotlights burn. With his slow, clear speaking voice and rolling gait, he does bear a reasonable resemblance to John Wayne who…embodies the virtues of strength, determination, hard work and western individualism…those same virtues (that) have made Harry Vold…one of the greatest stock contractors of this and perhaps any era.” “Neck Lace,” a Harry Vold Rodeo Company bareback bronc, was a roughstock legend of the 1960s rodeo circuit. Neck Lace bucked at, literally, every major rodeo in the world. She made a score of appearances at the Ellensburg Rodeo where fans will long remember her athletic prowess as well as that of the great cowboys who rode, or attempted to ride, her. Neck Lace was named Champion Bareback Horse of the National Finals Rodeo (Oklahoma City, OK) in 1964, 1966, 1968, and 1970. Neck Lace joins the famed cutting horse Bosque Boy, champion barrel-racer Scamper, the fierce Kelsey bull Ought, and bucking broncs War Paint and Grated Coconut as an animal inductee to the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame.