The 85th Annual Lea County Fair & PRCA Rodeo is in full swing in Lovington, New Mexico. As always, it’s being contested at the Jake McClure Arena, which was named in honor of an area ranch and rodeo cowboy legend. The 1930 world champion calf roper—who was known for his signature small, wedding ring-sized loops thrown with sizzling speed—died young at 37 after a ranch wreck in 1940. Did you know that ProRodeo Hall of Fame Calf Roper Jake McClure was the great uncle and namesake of ProRodeo Hall of Fame Team Roper Jake Barnes?
“My Great Uncle Jake McClure was my Grandma Jane’s brother,” said seven-time World Champion Team Roper Jake Barnes. “Grandma Jane was my dad’s mom. According to the stories I’ve heard all my life, Jake McClure was a real classy guy who dressed sharp and always wore a necktie when he roped. And he had a really unique style with a smaller loop than what was the standard at that time. It was, of course, a different day, with bigger calves and longer scores. But they say he changed things.”
The history books back that up. Jake McClure won all-around, calf roping and steer roping championships at premier cowboy towns the likes the Cheyenne, Deadwood, Pendleton, Prescott and Houston. In 1934, he set the world record of 12 seconds flat at the rodeo in London, England.
“When I think back on getting to rope in that Jake McClure Arena in Lovington over the years in my career, I get goosebumps,” Great Nephew Jake Barnes said. “That was pretty special. I’m proud to be named after my Great Uncle Jake. Sure wish I could have known him.”