Print Artists, bull riders take Fort Verde Days honors
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Friday, 21 October 2011 00:00

The 55th annual Fort Verde Days earlier this month was a success, and while there were lots of people crowding into downtown Camp Verde to enjoy themselves, there were also many recognized for their talent and contributions to the weekend festival.

A popular staple of the festival is the annual Camp Verde Art Show, one of the longest running in the region.

Sculptor Levi Fitch won best in show overall with his piece, “Dimensional Eyes” and Michelle Moscardini took first place in the student art division with her recreation of a Norman Rockwell composition, but there were many more people who participated and earned a nod for their impressive talents.

The American Legion Post 93 Color Guard’s entry was the overall winner in the Honoring Our Military, themed Fort Verde Days Parade on Oct. 8. A popular staple of the festival is the annual Camp Verde Art Show, one of the longest running in the region.The Camp Verde Arts Council and the panel of judges who looked carefully at all the artistic submissions honored several people for their work across a wide range of media.

Jan Chandler won best of division in 2-D work. Fitch won for his 3-D work. Jeff Blair took top honors for photography while Samule H. Corneil won in the crafts division.

Awards were also presented for individual categories. Sondra Feingold won first place in oil painting, followed by Jerry Bennett and Lynette Kovacovich.

Jim Gray took first and third place for his work in acrylics, with Patricia Varnell taking the second prize spot. In watercolors, Jan Chandler won first and third, with Jeanne Jones in the middle for the second spot.

For work in mixed media, Debbie Gallagher was the first-place winner, followed by Miss Kitty Thacker and Leslie Braden.

Thacker also won second prize for her work in the pencil, ink, charcoal and colored pencil category, with Linda Pollard taking the first and third spots. Kendra Noone took first and third in the pastels and alternative category with Edith Farr in second. David Ellison won all three top prizes for his work in stained and fused glass.

In the jewelry category, George Alexander took the top prize, followed by Lynette Kovacovich and Sally Reeves Conway.

Fitch took first and third in sculpture, with Raymond Rybar recognized for second place.

Ray Harvey was awarded first and third places for ceramic art, with Mary Lee Allen earning the silver.

The range of photography on display was diverse. Blair took first, with the second and third spots occupied by John Jenkins and Pam Killmer.

In the fiber arts category, Betty Gaudy was awarded the top prize, along with second and third place honors given to Joy Kaulfers and Darl Rector.

Annette McDonald won the top ribbon in the alternative craft category; Sheri Bordcosh won second and third.

Samule H. Corneil placed first and third in the final category, woodcarving, with Steve Drake placing second.

While in a different category than putting paint to canvas or sculpting, staying on top of 1,800 pounds of bucking bronco is an art form unto itself.

For two nights, men tried to earn a piece of the prize money at the annual Fort Verde Bull Bash, held at the Stargazer Pavilion at Cliff Castle Casino. Proceeds from the event went to benefit the Camp Verde High School wrestling program. Some of that goes to the wrestling scholarship program.

Bob Weir, principal of the high school and himself a rodeo clown, said 27 open bull riders and 26 novice riders put their skills to the test for a combined $4,500 in prize money.

Weir wrote that the event “was full of excitement and bone crushing wrecks,” certainly true for one rider who was injured and a photographer who was rolled around by an agitated bull.

While the riders know the risks, the attendants in the ring were on the job to keep people safe. While they were there to see that the crowd was entertained, they wasted no time acting professionally to keep things running smoothly.

The event was a produced by Weir and his wife Daria. The bulls were provided by Broken Slash P Bucking Bulls out of Casa Grande, while Gilbert resident Rick Lehman called the action and acted as a somewhat straight man for the rodeo clown’s antics. The riders’ performances were judge by Randy Ternan of Canada and New Mexico resident Ricky Chavez, while fellow New Mexico resident Chance Barnes handled the bullfighting.

“The event was a great success,” Bob Weir wrote. “Friday and Saturday nights were outstanding crowds fill with hilarious entertainment and action packed bull riding. The money raised for the wrestling program will help the wrestlers buy needed equipment, continue to improve and update the wrestling room and assist with travel expenses to tournaments and the Camp Verde New Breed Wrestling Club.”

In the open bull riding category, Joseph McConnel of Farmington, N.M., took first place with an 88-point ride that earned him, $1,405. Tohatchi, N.M., resident Spud Jones was second, with 86 points and $843, followed up by Trevor Schmittel of Monte Vista, Colo., with 81 points and $562.

In the novice category, top honors went to Elliot Merklin of Showlow for his 76-point ride for $420. Phoenix resident Brandon McCassie took second with $73 points and $252, followed by Steven Worberton of Dewey, 72 points and $168.

Junior bull riders also took home some of the prize money, led by Coolidge resident Beau McVickers with Justin Neill of Edgewood, N.M., and Rory Billy of Winslow in second and third.

Local kids Kylee Jones and Madison Walker earn honors in the afternoon kid’s rodeo, winning for sheep riding and stick horse racing respectively.