Liberty Hill Rodeo featuring World Champion Steer Roper Tuf Cooper
By Keith Sparks
This weekend’s Liberty Hill Fair & Rodeo will feature some of the world’s most well-known rodeo stars, not the least of whom is four-time World Champion Tuf Cooper.
Cooper, who lives in Decatur, is one of the most decorated cowboys in the state of Texas, particularly when it comes to steer roping.
Cooper finished the 2018 season in second place in the all-around world standings with earnings of $310,357. He also finished second in the tie-down roping world standings with earnings of $205,268.
As one of the best steer ropers in the world, Cooper has competed in the Houston Rodeo, Amarillo Tri-State Fair and Rodeo, Lewiston Roundup, Ellensburg Rodeo, and the World’s Oldest Rodeo, among other big-time competitions across the country.
After competing on some of the biggest stages in the United States, Cooper said it’s refreshing to compete in a smaller community like Liberty Hill.
“It’s just your good old hometown rodeo,” Cooper said. “It’s awesome. It’s very homey feeling. The community gets out and is just able to have a good time. It’s just laid back and fun.”
Cooper has been coming to the Liberty Hill Fair & Rodeo since 2014 after receiving an invitation from Liberty Hill resident and rodeo founder Corey Ross. The Liberty Hill Fair & Rodeo has one of the biggest payouts in the state, thanks in large part to Ross’ contributions, which Cooper said allows those that compete in Liberty Hill to make a huge impact on the standings.
“Corey Ross started the rodeo and got us all coming to it, just because he puts on such a great event,” Cooper said. “You can compete, win some really good money, and make a big difference in those standings.”
Cooper isn’t the only big name that will head to Liberty Hill, either, which has him excited for the high-level competition that the local rodeo brings.
“All the guys, everybody will be there,” Cooper said. “It’ll be good competing against those same guys that I see all year.”
As of April, Cooper is ranked second in the all-around standings with earnings of $52,103.06. After a strong start to the season, a solid performance in Liberty Hill could be a huge difference maker. With that in mind, Cooper said he isn’t taking any days off in preparation for this weekend.
“It’s going pretty good, and I’ve got a good start to the season,” Cooper said. “I’ve been practicing every day, working on doing my best. There’s no days off. Being a cowboy is an every day gig.”
Cooper will compete in Sunday’s steer roping event and Saturday’s tie-down roping, both of which he said are among his favorite events.
“It’s roping,” Cooper said. “I love to rope and I love to compete. The fastest time wins, so you want to be faster than everyone else. It involves you, your horse, and your steer, and all three of you are in there doing it.”
Cooper joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 2008, but he’s been roping for as long as he can remember. His father, Roy Cooper, is in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame after spending more than 20 years on the pro rodeo circuit, and Tuf is one of three brothers, along with Clint and Clif, all of which are professional ropers.
“I grew up in a roping and rodeo family, and that’s what I was born for – to be a cowboy,” Cooper said.
The Liberty Hill Fair & Rodeo will take place April 18-21 at Liberty Hill’s Harvest Ranch Arena.