July 13, 2013 Updated: July 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm
Against the backdrop of a bright, sunny sky, the ProRodeo Hall of Fame inducted its five-member 2013 class Saturday morning.
"I think this is either the 20th or the 21st year that I've been to this induction ceremony, and I don't ever remember a prettier day," commissioner of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame Karl Stressman said. "That just goes to show you, that I think God is a rodeo fan also."
Headlining this year's class is the late John Bowman, inducted in the All-Around category. Among other titles, Bowman was the all-around world champion in 1936 and won two gold buckles in steer roping in 1933 and 1938.
Bowman had a 44-year career. He competed until his death in August 1959. His granddaughter Candace Ekhart accepted the award on his behalf.
"While there are elements of today's rodeo that he wouldn't recognize, jumbotrons and electronic timing, the heart of the sport remains the same," she said. "And it's wonderful to have him join the other champions in the Hall of Fame."
Saddle bronc rider Kenny McLean and stock contractor Rex "Bud" Kerby were also inducted posthumously. Family members accepting the awards for each of them agreed that the men were soft-spoken and wouldn't have wanted to talk about themselves and their achievements.
"He worked very hard to achieve the things that he did, and often times people would come up and say 'oh he was just gifted, he was a natural," said Paula Jo Miller, Kenny McLean's widow. "Kenny had an answer to that. He said 'there's nothing we do in this life natural but relieve ourselves. Everything else you've got to work for.' And he did."
Like McLean, bareback rider inductee Chuck Logue didn't want to talk about his accomplishments, including a bareback world championship in 1990 and the PRCA Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year in 1979 at 18 years old.
"The pursuit if making good rides came first for me and winning came after," he said. "Once you make some good rides, it feels so good that feeling becomes a little addicting, and you're out there just trying to feel that."
Former PRCA Bullfighter of the Year Joe Baumgartner, inducted in the contract personnel category, was a little more open about his success. He said that every bull rider he was out there to protect left the competition safely.
Many of the inductees and their families told stories about life in the rodeo and all agreed that it was one of their great loves.
Baumgartner candidly spoke about his first experience with the rodeo, and that experience seemed to come full circle on his Hall of Fame induction weekend.
"It wasn't the but the very first day that I got to the NFR that I was late. Got fined $250," he said. "So yesterday when I arrived here I was late. I'm thinking, 'gosh dang it, I'm going to get it again. The first thing they do me and the last thing they do me, they're gonna stick me for $250."
With this year's induction, there are 231 people, 27 animals and 18 rodeo committees that have been enshrined in the Colorado Springs-based ProRodeo Hall of Fame.