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Meet the Member Lee Daggett
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Lee Daggett is inspired by the countless rodeo volunteers who he works alongside at the rodeos he announces.
The soon-to-be-retiring rodeo Western States Ranch Rodeo Association announcer loves working with the many committee people, nearly all giving of their own time, talent and resources for free, who make rodeo work.
He grew up near Joseph, Ore., the fifth generation in a family steeped in agriculture and timber, and earned a degree in broadcast journalism from Blue Mountain Community College.
He never competed in rodeo, but in about 1990, he was on the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo committee when he was introduced to Zoop Dove, the announcer. He struck up a friendship with him, and Zoop encouraged him to pursue announcing.
By chance, another local hometown small rodeo needed an announcer. Lee told them he didn’t have a lot of experience. They told him, “that’s all right, because we don’t have any money,” Lee laughed.
He was offered the job, and bit by bit, his rodeo career grew. He learned from some of the greats at announcer clinics hosted by Chad Nicholson and Sam Howry and he’s worked a variety of associations, including the WSRRA, the Idaho Cowboys Association, the National Pro Rodeo Association, the Professional West Rodeo Association, the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association, and more. Last year, he worked 123 performances.
In addition to announcing, he’s a “dirt salesman,” as he likes to call it, selling real estate.
There’s plenty that goes on behind the scenes for an announcer, Lee said, including preparation. “It’s not just cowboys and livestock statistics, but it’s the time spent with committees, knowing the sponsors, the community, and the entertainment acts. And the takedown, too. The announcer is one of the first to get there, to set up and get it going, and often one of the last to leave, when the lights go out.”
Lee is part of the group that produces the Mountain High Broncs and Bulls, a roughstock event in Enterprise, Oregon. It’s the entire deal: big screen, Cowboy Channel Plus app, mutton busting, wild horse racing, ranch bronc riding, and of course, bull riding. It is free admission to all fans. “We found a way to make money with sponsorships,” Lee said, “to make it work, so we can provide an inviting and free show to young families and older people on fixed incomes.” Sanctioned by the WSRRA, this year’s event is June 18.
Lee’s heart is with the grassroots rodeos. “I’ve always had a passion for the small and medium sized rodeos,” he said. “To me, that’s where the purity and heartbeat of rodeo began, and still is. The great big shows are dynamic and impressive, but so much of it is the small towns that have little committees that work their hearts out, with very little money to make it happen, to preserve the history of rodeo. I really, really enjoy the passion of those small shows. I’ve sought them out.”
He loves the sport. “I’m a fan of rodeo,” he said. “And I enjoy the interaction and the relationship with committees, the people who put their heart and soul into their town.”
He knows, for the community, the rodeo might be their biggest event all year. “I don’t care how small the town is. Their rodeo is their Pendleton, their Cheyenne, their Calgary Stampede. It may be a little bitty town of 200 people, but it’s their event of the year.”
He has announced the WSRRA finals eleven times.