Beaver Cashes in Over Great Lakes Circuit Weekend
Joe Beaver and Levi Pettigrew had a successful circuit weekend June 9-11, 2023, placing at Tarkio, Missouri, Hawley, Minnesota, and Merrill, Wisconsin
Joe Beaver and Levi Pettigrew at the 2022 Great Lakes Circuit Finals.
Beaver and Pettigrew at the 2022 Great Lakes Circuit Finals. Avid Visual Imagery.

Eight-Time World Champion Joe Beaver is starting off his summer run in the Great Lakes Circuit strong, cashing in at three circuit rodeos over the weekend of June 9-11, 2023, with partner Levi Pettigrew.

Beaver and Pettigrew both took home $2,543 over the weekend, pushing Beaver to the No. 5 spot in the circuit standings with $3,930.73 won on the year and Pettigrew to sixth on the heeling side with $3,930.73. 

Missouri, to Minnesota, to Wisconsin

Beaver and Pettigrew kicked the weekend off in Tarkio, Missouri, Friday, June 9. After months of being roped in the South, the steers took a chance on the cooler evening weather and tired harder than expected. Beaver and Pettigrew still knocked their steer down in 8.3 seconds to win fifth.

“They said they were really slow, well, they weren’t slow when they got there and it was 75 degrees at night and in a big open setup,” Beaver, 58, from Huntsville, Texas, said. “So, you had to see your standard old start and go get them. I got a good start and he got away from me, and I thought, ‘You’re not going to win first or second, but you have to knock him down.’ I ran him a ways and reached a long ways and got him, and Levi really heeled him sharp.”

READ: Young Guns with Joe Beaver

Saturday took them to Hawley, Minnesota, where they were 4.8 seconds to win the rodeo. Beaver and Pettigrew drew a steer to win on, and as third-to-last with a 7.1 leading it, Beaver knew he couldn’t try to just get by.

“The winner in me said we should win the rodeo by a full second, and we did,” Beaver said. “I just blew the barrier out because I don’t know how to back off, and he was right there and I just went right all the way to him. Levi heeled him on the first hop, and we were 4.8 and I think 7.0 won second.”

They rounded out the weekend in Merrill, Wisconsin, in the Sunday matinee June 11. The momentum from prior in the weekend carried over into their run in which they were 5.0 to win second. 

“I thought, well, even though we’ve got a loper, we can’t back off because everybody knows the steer should be won on, and you can’t not win on him,” Beaver said. “So I got a little early and I got me a pull, and when they hollered I was out, I thought, now it’s just time to lay it on the horns and let Levi heel him, and he did. Levi’s got a lot of game, and he really sets them down on a hard, tight hit and heeled really good this week. He made it real easy for me.”

The Beaver + Pettigrew Connection

Beaver met Pettigrew, of Keota, Oklahoma, in 2022 after doing some business on a horse. They hit it off, and when Pettigrew started talking about selling his heel horse, Beaver put a stop to it.

“My wife and I had just talked about finding some cooler weather and I said, ‘Hey, hold that thought for a little bit,” Beaver said. “I said, ‘Would you rope with an old guy that doesn’t have much game if I found a good horse?’ He said, ‘Yes sir, I’ll try it with you.’ So that brought us to cooler weather right there.”

While the two make a great team, Beaver knows it isn’t a forever thing—and he doesn’t want it to be. Much like a previous young-gun, McCoy Profili, Beaver roped with, he sees full potential in Pettigrew to go beyond the circuit.

“I want Levi at some point to have the horses and the ability to do everything he needs to do to move on, be better and be more successful,” Beaver explained. “And then maybe there’ll be another kid come along I can take along with me. But that’s I think the goal I have for now—to try to help a kid get to his potential and move on past me. And then maybe find another one. It keeps you young. It keeps me competing.”

The Texan in the Great Lakes

Aside from lining up a run with Pettigrew, Beaver was drawn to the Great Lakes for other reasons, like cooler weather. When Beaver and his wife, Jenna, made the decision to start circuit rodeoing, Jenna had one condition: find cooler weather. After talking with close friends in the Great Lakes Circuit, they decided to give it a try and they’ve been content since.

“We’ve enjoyed it, we really have,” Beaver said. “We’ve enjoyed it back here, and I like the people. You see a lot of the same people every week, the same stock contractors, and the committees really try hard back here to be something special—to make the rodeos special. That just kind of means something. For as many years as I’ve been going, and to as many different places as I’ve been, it’s kind of fun just to go to them.”

To Beaver’s surprise, the circuit is full of rodeos where fans look forward to their local rodeo all year long, especially the Great Lakes Circuit Finals, held in Louisville, Kentucky, in November. 

“They turn out, they drink some beer, they have a hotdog, they cheer at the rodeos, their crowds are big, and it’s an enjoyable circuit to go to,” Beaver said with a laugh. “Just like the circuit finals, I’d never been to them until last year when I made them, and my gosh, they pack that place. I’ll venture out to say it and the Southeastern Circuit Finals down there in Davie [Florida] are the biggest crowds and the most in-to-it rodeo bunch I’ve ever seen somewhere besides the National Finals. It’s unbelievable the crowds, you can’t hardly find a seat to watch the rodeo.”

Beaver and Pettigrew will continue their circuit run throughout the summer with the goal of making it back to Louisville in the fall. 

“That’s our goal, to make the Great Lakes Circuit Finals and take a picture of me, Levi and Jenna when we’re there and just enjoy it,” Beaver said. “And then one of these days when he’s at the Finals, he and McCoy, I have pictures from our circuit finals to talk about.”

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