A few hours following a wild ride aboard a bucking bronco, Nick "Bucky" Dickson is getting a close-up on television.
The fact that he’s alive to tell the tale is drama enough.
Dickson is one of dozens of local and regional riders preparing for the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association rodeo, a two-day event serving as the centerpiece for Clallam County Fair’s sports shows.
Dickson, a 2007 graduate of Sequim High School, suffered head injuries, including a broken jaw, at the Ropin’ and Riggin’ Days collegiate rodeo in Casper, Wyo., this April.
"He’s just fortunate to be alive," University of Wyoming coach George Howard said in a school press release.
Despite the injuries, it could have been much worse if not for the helmet Dickson wears each time he rides a bronc, an uncommon practice among rodeo riders.
"It (saved me), big time," Dickson said last week.
On that fateful ride, Dickson, a freshman at the University of Wyoming, got kicked under the helmet, but the helmet, not the jaw, took the majority of the blow, onlookers said. He held on long enough to earn second place in the event and is ranked No. 4 in the NPRA Bareback Bronc division and No. 1 among rookies in the Rough Stock event standings.
"I have had multiple doctors tell me that the helmet was the only thing that saved me," Dickson said. "I have never been on a bucking bull or bronc without one … if my experience convinces someone else to wear a helmet when they ride, then this will totally be worth it."
Dickson will get his audience when a documentary about his rise through the rodeo ranks with the "nontraditional" helmet airs on the Animal Planet television show "Untamed and Uncut." The program is set to air at 10 p.m. Aug. 17.
Dickson said a film crew flew to Silverdale to document his rides, plus interviewed him at his home near Port Townsend. The show details Dickson’s rise through the junior rodeo, high school rodeo, college and professional ranks.
The NPRA rodeo, slated for a 5 p.m. start on Aug. 16 and noon start on Aug. 17, is the western United States’ largest regional rodeo organization. It annually sanctions more than 80 rodeos throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California. The season begins in October with a few indoor rodeos through the winter months, increases to multiple rodeos per weekend through the summer months, finishing in September at the championship finals in Sisters, Ore.
The NPRA rodeo is just one of several Clallam County Fair sporting events on tap at this weekend’s Clallam County Fair. Kicking things off is the Western Games competitions starting at 9 a.m. on Aug. 15. Western Games are horseback riders competing in timed races such as Figure & Stake, Texas Barrels, Flag and International Flag Races, Key Races and Poles.
Later that day, fans get a chance to see a Moto-X exhibition at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., also in the grandstands. Moto-X consists of motorcycle free-style stunt jumpers performing gravity-defying feats such as no-footed back flips, turn down whips, cliff hangers, pendulums, no-hand landings and more. Freestyle Moto X riders’ "big air style" talents have been featured on ESPN, EXPN, Fox Sports and the Discovery Channel, as well as several top-selling videos.
On Aug. 16, the Clallam County Fair hosts the annual logging show, then makes way for the NPRA rodeo at 5 p.m.
On Aug. 17, the rodeo continues at noon, followed by the ever-popular demolition derby. Derby fans need to purchase an $11 ticket in addition to the standard fair fee. Featuring dozens of drivers in a number of classifications, the derby traditionally fills the stands quickly, delighting onlookers with high-speed crashes and twisted metal.