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Back in the saddle for Larry Cann

LEGACY: APRA rodeo administrator Larry Cann with a saddle donated by his father Norm Cann at the Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre. RIGHT: Mr Cann outside the rodeo heritage centre in Warwick.
LEGACY: APRA rodeo administrator Larry Cann with a saddle donated by his father Norm Cann at the Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre. RIGHT: Mr Cann outside the rodeo heritage centre in Warwick. Gerard Walsh

TWENTY-SIX years after winning the second-division bull ride at the Warwick Rodeo, Larry Cann has returned to the town as the Australian Professional Rodeo Association rodeo administrator.

He won in Warwick at age 17 with a score of 74 on a red bull in 1988 and remembers also staying on Deep Springs, a regional circuit bull of the year at the time, for five seconds in the open bull ride.

A year earlier, the Chinchilla-born cowboy attended a rough stock rodeo school put on by Eddie and Malcolm Gill at Cherrabah. Ike Sankey, from Wyoming in America, was the instructor and Larry was offered a rodeo scholarship to college in Powell, Wyoming, near Cody in the United States.

Three months after winning in Warwick, he took up the scholarship to America and spent a decade in the States.

He was in the top 10 money earners in the bull ride on the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit in 1995 and then added the bareback bronc ride to his program to be the top-12 in the bareback in 1996.

After a decade in America, he returning to Australia in 1999 and again competed in the Australian Professional Rodeo Association.

He qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Toowoomba in 2004 after first qualifying for the finals in the junior steer ride at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in 1987.

Larry completed a music degree in the United States which evolved into his career as a rodeo broadcaster.

He was lead singer in a band in the United States and was on the road singing when it was too cold to rodeo when based in Montana, US.

Before his appointment as rodeo administrator for the Warwick-based APRA, he lived in Bundaberg for 13 years, including 12 years as breakfast announcer/programmer/marketing manager with the Kix Hot Country Radio Network, which is now owned by Grant Broadcasters.

While in this role, he was awarded 2010 Country Music Association of America International Broadcaster of the Year award.

He is one of seven Australians to receive this award, a group which includes John Laws and Nick Erby.

Larry has also won the 2010 People's Choice Award as favourite broadcaster at the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival.

He has brought his guitar to town so don't be surprised if there will be a few tunes behind the chutes at the Warwick Rodeo on the last weekend in October.

In the past six months, he has produced some rodeo events in Bundaberg, one of which attracted a crowd of 2000. More recently, working with the Bundaberg Rotary club, he helped obtain a record 3500 strong crowd for the new Bundaberg show precinct venue.

He has worked as a professional rodeo announcer for the past 12 years in between radio commitments, including the Warwick Rodeo 2012 with Terry Murray and this year's National Finals Rodeo in early May at the Queensland State Equestrian Centre in Caboolture.

In his new role, Larry will stress the family side of rodeo.

"More and more events cater for the 18-year-olds and older or the under 18s. Rodeo fans range from little kids to grandparents," he said.

The family side of rodeo is no more evident than in his own family.

His father Norm Cann joined the old Australian Rough Riders Association (now APRA) in 1958 and competed for 25 years. Norm was a gold card member and made the steer wrestling national finals and was a very well-respected Qld-based bull rider.

Mother Beryl made national finals in the barrel race and steer undecorating in the 1970s.

Larry's son Liam just missed the APRA finals in the junior steer ride last month and has started the new season with a second at Bundaberg. Last season Liam won at Emerald on Easter Saturday.

If he needs to look back on family history at the APRA head office at the Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre, Larry will just have to walk a few metres to see a trophy rodeo saddle sourced from his father Norm to the display of memorabilia at the centre.

The saddle is part of a tribute to Taroom cowboy Jim McGuire, a close family friend and one of the most popular cowboys to compete at the Warwick Showgrounds. Norm had obtained the saddle as part payment for a horse that Jim used as his main steer wrestling horse for many years from Larry's father.

In Warwick, he will administer an organisation with 1800 members which holds 80 rodeos each year and employs four staff. He succeeds Steve Hilton who retired from the role after 22 years.

Topics:  rodeo




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