After about 13 years of arranging the sorting, penning and branding competitions for the Franklin County Fair, Tony and Debbie Gregory are handing the reins to Burke Smith.
But the Gregorys say they’ll be back. They and their family plan to continue competing because working with horses is something their family does together. It is a way “to take the grandkids and my daughters with me,” Tony said. Riding horses and cutting cattle is their lifestyle.
Tony’s older daughters, Teresa Anderson and Teri Kent, as well as their children, not only participate in the competitions at the fair, but often help Tony round-up cattle which run in different parts of Franklin County. At the fair events, family members take score and also run the gates and cattle.
“It’s just something we are passionate about. For us, it is a family sport.”
“The really nice part is spending all year working with them in the arena. It takes like 1,000 hours to get those kids to the point that they can have fun in the arena. It’s been so valuable to me to put that on so that we can be together. Just being able to spend time with my daughters and grand kids has made it worth it.
But there’s more to it.
“It blossoms into a lot more,” said Tony. Anything that gets kids involved with their family, is important, he said, and for his family, that thing has been horses.
“When they are stressed, they go talk to horses. In today’s society, those kids get so stressed out. I’m sure glad my grandkids have a horse to talk to. It won’t do them any good in life, but if it can get then through the teen age years... they need all the help they can get.”
When the time came for someone new to take over the events, “we were already doing it all over Utah and Idaho, so we just wanted to keep it alive and going it in Preston,” said Tony.
The couple has also organized similar events for the same reasons at the Eastern Idaho State Fair over the last decade, said Debbie. “Its a big job up there,” she said.
Just putting teams together for the state fair takes about three weeks, she said. It is unknown who will organize the 2020 EISF competitions. But it has also “been a lot of fun. We’ve met some really nice people,” she continued.
In addition to the Gregorys and their family, Kent Webb, Lina Bradford, Burke and Alisha Smith competed at the state fair. Tony and his daughter, Teresa took first place there in the sorting event.
In Preston, the competitions draw people from Rexburg to Lehi, Utah, and from Nevada to Star Valley to participate — people Tony and his daughters have competed with in Utah and Idaho for years.
“We’ve had amazing sponsors over the years, that have donated some amazing prizes. We can not say enough about the sponsors we’ve had over the years,” said Debbie.
Smith said he is stepping up to organize the events for the same reasons Gregorys did.
“ I just don’t want it to die. I love it and I want to see it happen,” said Smith.