Sitting down with Incline Village volunteers from the 2016 Reno Rodeo |

Sitting down with Incline Village volunteers from the 2016 Reno Rodeo

Kayla Anderson | Special to the Bonanza
Rodeo medics Lisa Mays and Dennis Griffiths on standby for anything that could go wrong.
Courtesy Kayla Anderson |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — June 15-26 marked the 97th annual Reno Rodeo, Northern Nevada’s much beloved event. These 12 days of nonstop action were predicted to have an estimated economic impact of $57 million for the Washoe Valley, some of that likely trickling up to the Lake Tahoe area.

Providing a variety of dangerous and exciting events including steer wrestling, women’s barrel racing, extreme bull riding and more, the rodeo takes more than 700 volunteers to accommodate the 130,000 guests who attend each year.

Each year, Incline Village locals head down the hill to help out, and among those this year were Dennis Griffiths, a Rodeo medic; Michael D. Peyton, Rodeo Sponsorship Committee photographer; Jim Whitson, an EMT with REMSA; and Lt. Jeff Clark, with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Mountain Unit.

Here’s a snapshot of a few Incline angels in disguise who helped keep people safe and having fun at the 2016 Reno Rodeo:

Question: What is your day job?

Whitson: CPR Coordinator at the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District.

Griffiths: IVGID Diamond Peak Ski Patrol Director in the winter/ Brush Cutting Fuel Reduction Supervisor in the summer.

Clark: Incline Village Substation Commander.

Peyton: Owner of Farmers Insurance Agency in Incline Village.

Q. How long have you been working the Rodeo?

Whitson: 10 years.

Griffiths: 11 years.

Clark: As a member of the Reno Rodeo Association and the Sheriff’s Office, I have been involved with the Reno Rodeo for 20 years.

Peyton: 3 years, and I have a Reno Rodeo belt buckle for all three of them.

Q. What is your favorite event of the Rodeo?

Whitson: The mutton bustin’.

Griffiths: The bull riding; it’s exciting.

Clark: I like everything, the whole event. Being born and raised in Northern Nevada, it’s an event we look forward to every year. Since we recently started the Mountain Unit, this was the first event that the horses were involved in.

Peyton: The mutton bustin’. The kids are freaking hilarious and more and more are doing it every year. There are always more kids than spots available.

Q. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen or dealt with at the Rodeo?

Whitson: The craziest thing I’ve ever dealt with was a Jack Daniel’s-infused customer who thought it would be a good idea to try to put a ribbon on a steer’s tail. Steer=1, Drunk guy=0, and a trip to the ER.

Griffiths: I’ve seen a few broken bones from bulls stepping on people. A lot of people start drinking early and fall down in the stands. One guy took a pretty good shot to the head (from a bull) and was knocked out for a few days, but he came around and competed again. That’s why a lot of the guys wear helmets and face guards now. They also flatten the bulls’ horns so it’s safer for the riders now. It still hurts when an 1800-lb. bull stomps on you, though. There are a lot of injuries from the steer-decorating contest from drunk people trying to win $100.

Clark: We deal with a lot of intoxicated individuals; cowboys like to fight.

Peyton: The bull riders landing on their heads; late at night Jack (Daniel’s) tent action.

Q. Are you coming back next year?

Whitson: Definitely.

Griffiths: I’m back for as long as they’ll have me. It’s fun, good people watching; I enjoy all of the different events they have each night.

Clark: Oh yeah. Being a new horse unit, we rode in the parade with the Flag Team Saturday night and that was fun. The horses did phenomenal.

Peyton: Yes, I will.

Q. How long have you lived/worked in Incline Village?

Whitson: 15 years

Griffiths: I just reached my 20-year mark of being Diamond Peak Ski Patrol Director.

Clark: 7 years — I started out as a deputy at the (Incline Village) substation before becoming a lieutenant.

Peyton: Since 1999; has it been 16 years already?

Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer with a background in marketing and journalism. She loves sharing stories about Lake Tahoe and her community. Have a story idea? Email her at

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