Accused cockfighters could take lessons from cowpokes & Mickey Mouse in how to cut & spin losses
BURBANK, California; CHEYENNE, Wyoming; IRONTON, Ohio––Suspected cockfighting promoters James and Beckie Newcomb are unlikely to ever be accused of possessing the business smarts behind either the 125-year-old Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo and concert series, or Walt Disney Studios, making hit films since 1923.
The Newcombs have, however, been known to host at least one country music concert to try to raise the cost of hiring a lawyer, after James V. “Bub” Newcomb II, 53, starred in a January 3, 2021 video showing him and co-defendant Shannon Lee Clark, 35, allegedly assaulting Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] founder Steve Hindi.
Hindi had just launched a surveillance drone to follow up on a tip SHARK had received that the Newcombs were staging a cockfight.
Felony charges pending
James Newcomb and Clark were subsequently indicted by a Lawrence County grand jury on a total of eight felony counts, five against Newcomb, three against Clark, whose cases have yet to go to court.
If the Newcombs had handled their conflict with SHARK and Hindi as Cheyenne Frontier Days has, they would have made their concerts rather than their violence against animals the main event at their Waterloo, Ohio farm, an inholding within the Wayne National Forest.
If the Newcombs had handled their conflict with SHARK, Hindi, and a multitude of other animal advocates as Walt Disney Studios has, they would have quietly left the cockfighting business.
Aloha Rodeo showdown loomed
ANIMALS 24-7 speculated on March 21, 2021, that “Walt Disney Inc., Cheyenne Frontier Days, and a coalition of animal advocacy groups headed by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] may be headed toward the highest-profile showdown at the 123-year-old Frontier Days rodeo since Hawaiian paniolos Eben Parker “Ben” Low, Ikua Purdy, and Archie Kaaua rode into town in 1908 to show some of the last authentic Old West cowpokes how steers were roped in Hawaii.
“The 1908 outcome, though brutal for the steers involved, was a debacle for Old West white supremacy,” ANIMALS 24-7 explained, “that rodeo cowboy culture spent the next 90 years trying to live down and forget.”
Walt Disney Studios had just announced hiring a writer to try to develop a screenplay based on the 2019 book Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World’s Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West.
But Walt Disney Inc. rode away before sundown
SHARK, targeting Cheyenne Frontier Days in frequent investigations since 2005, responded by organizing a coalition in opposition to the Aloha Rodeo project.
Signing on were Last Chance for Animals, the Humane Farming Association, Anti-Rodeo Action New Zealand, Fish Feel, The Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund, NYCLASS, United Poultry Concerns, Animals Voice magazine, the Animal Alliance of Canada, the League of Humane Voters-Florida, and In Defense of Animals, along with individual activists Peggy Larson and Stevan Harnad.
The online entertainment periodical Deadline, which had energetically puffed the prospective Aloha Rodeo film, on May 18, 2021 announced that it had “learned that Disney is no longer moving forward with the project.”
Walt Disney Studios has leaked no further information specific to Aloha Rodeo, but has made recent drastic budget cuts, after the parent company, Walt Disney Inc., lost $120 million in 2020 due to shutdowns occasioned by COVID 19, with a 53% drop in revenue during the first quarter of 2021 as compared to 2020.
Frontier Days spun ticket sales collapse as “a record”
While Walt Disney Inc., as a publicly traded company, had no choice but to release the bad economic news, the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo and concert series announced immediately after the ten days of events ended on August 1, 2021 that it had “set a record for combined ticket sales for the rodeo and concerts in 2021.”
Not really. Total ticket sales in 2018 came to 543,705. Total ticket sales in 2021 were just 267,369, nine thousand less than half as many.
Rodeo event attendance did, however, reach a record 111,617, up 14% from the 2019 rodeo attendance of 97,373 people.
The rodeo finals were attended by 14,925 people, also an apparent record.
At that, though, the Cheyenne Frontier Days concerts continued a longterm trend of substantially outdrawing the rodeo.
Rodeos remain hard as ever on the animals
Relatively few rodeo injuries to animals were reported in 2020 because few rodeos were held, due to restrictions on public gatherings imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, though, rodeos are again being held, and animals are again documentedly hurt at every event animal advocates attend with cameras.
“On Thursday, July 29,” SHARK reported, “a SHARK investigator filmed the wild horse race at Cheyenne Frontier Days. During the event, one horse had a clearly injured leg, possibly broken, yet instead of stopping and giving the horse immediate care, the cowboy who rode the horse just forced the animal to keep running,” until “the horse eventually collapsed.”
The Medicine Hat Stampede Rodeo held the same night also featured a horse injury.
According to CHAT News Today of Redcliff, Alberta––whose headline read “Concern for collapsed horse underlines Stampede Rodeo’s return”––the horse was not involved in a steer-wrestling competition and was only “standing nearby,” but “collapsed and suffered convulsions while the crowd watched between heats.”
Suspects held another cockfight
Back in Waterloo, Ohio, James and Beckie Newcomb on July 18, 2021 “held another illegal cockfight on their property,” Steve Hindi informed the Lawrence County commissioners.
“We reported this information to [Sheriff Jeff Lawless],” Hindi continued. “In response, Deputy Michael Delawder was dispatched to the Newcomb property.
“According to Deputy Delawder, he did not make contact with anyone on the Newcomb property. This is false,” Hindi charged. “Deputy Delawder lied.
“Delawder did in fact make contact with the Newcombs––both James and Beckie.
“Deputy Delawder did in fact know there was an ongoing, illegal cockfight,” Hindi alleged.
“Delawder nevertheless left the property, allowing the criminal operation to continue,” while SHARK cameras documented both Delawder’s visit and the cockfight itself.
“James and Beckie Newcomb are clearly shown in those images,” Hindi said, posting examples.
Hindi asked that James V. “Bub” Newcomb II’s bail bond be revoked, and that Beckie Newcomb be charged with attending a cockfight.
Eric Mills says
Just for the record, ACTION FOR ANIMALS wrote to Disney twice, and inspired a number of others to do likewise. This was a cross-country effort.
Single steer roping, aka “steer busting,” is the single most egregious event in all of rodeo, and should be outlawed nationwide. It’s currently practiced in only 8-10 Western states. Many of the stock contractors and rodeo cowboys themselves hold the event in low esteem. Indeed, one Oklahoma college rodeo coach was fired after referring to steer roping as a “ehickenshit event”–which it undeniably is. SEE THE MANY YOUTUBE VIDEOS IF IN DOUBT.
Legislation should be introduced annually in every state until this cruelty is banned nationwide.
Relatedly, see recent prize-winning rodeo documentary, “BUCKING TRADITION” (featuring the above-mentioned Dr. Peggy Larson, et al.: http://www.buckingtradition.com
Eric Mills, coordinator
ACTION FOR ANIMALS
Eric Mills says
And a P.S. – Here’s a favorite quote from the late novelist, Texan Larry McMurtry:
“Note 23. Louise Serpa fell in love with her first cowboy at age
seventeen–I departed from the only cowboy I ever could care about, my
father, at age eighteen. She sees cowboys as noble men–indeed, a few of
them are noble. I see them as physically competent but emotionally
limited men who are in most cases sexist, chauvinist, xenophobic,
quasi-fascistic, and not infrequently dull.”
–In the book, “RODEO,” photo and commentary by the late Louise Serpa;
Notes by the late Larry McMurtry (author of “Lonesome Dove,” the rodeo
cowboys’ fave) – Aperture Books, NYC, 1994. RECOMMENDED READING.
Jamaka Petzak says
The sheer ignorance, stupidity, callousness and cruelty of much of society boggles the mind. Culture is supposed to evolve, but instead, it seems, much of the domestic population is backsliding. Sharing to socials with gratitude.
Annoula Wylderich says
Hard to believe that we still have such ignorant, stupid and callous idiots among civilized society. That so many of them like to cite “culture” or “tradition” as an excuse for their cruelty and violence against helpless animals makes it so much worse. I’m glad every time we get a chance to shine the spotlight on them and bring them out of the shadows.