Lineworkers Compete in Gaff-n-Go Lineworker Rodeo
Published 10:00 am Thursday, June 2, 2022
Gray skies and intermittent precipitation did not dampen the can-do spirit of the more than 160 lineworkers excited by the return of the Gaff-n-Go Lineworker Rodeo held Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14 at Meadow Event Park in Doswell.
“Rain doesn’t bother us. We just keep going,” said Clint Card of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC), the event’s chief judge and one of the event organizers. “If a Member’s power is out, we can’t let rain prevent us from doing what needs to be done. It’s the same principle here. It was a good weekend. Everyone was excited to return to the rodeo and compete again since the event was derailed in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.”
Sponsored by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, the Gaff-n-Go is one of the largest regional rodeos in the country, attracting apprentice and journeyman teams from investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives and contractors.
The Gaff-n-Go is a series of competitive events that enable lineworkers to showcase the skills and safe work practices they utilize daily to keep your power on. Competitors are judged on a combination of safety and skills by more than 60 volunteer judges from electric utilities. By participating in the rodeo, journeyman linemen and apprentices can connect with, and learn from, other teams of linemen from around the region.
MEC apprentices Brad Clark, Kirkland Finch and Kyle Branson ranked in the top 10 of the overall Terex Equipment Operator event, and the journeyman team of B.J. Hensley, Mitch DeJarnette and T.W. Parks ranked in the top five of the Transformer and Streetlight Change event.
Gaff-n-Go event chairman John Lee, Jr., president and CEO of MEC, commented “It was good to be back at the rodeo this year, and we are very thankful that not only is the rodeo back, but we also set new records in every category of competition this year, so we are back stronger than ever. Clearly everyone was excited to come out and put their skills on display in a friendly competition and trust me these competitors are among the best of the best. Our MEC lineworkers are dedicated to serving our members in the communities we serve, and our outage response times and durations are testament to their skills and commitment.
“I was very proud of their efforts and thank them for very capably representing our cooperative. It was also great for the friends and family members who attended to observe the safe and skilled way their loved ones handle the job on a day-to-day basis because the nights are long for them when their lineworker is out in the very worst of conditions doing very hazardous work,” he said.
At the awards banquet held on Saturday evening following the long two days of competition, Lee, who has chaired the event since 2014, announced that this would be his last rodeo as acting chairman.
“It has been a great honor to serve as chairman of the Gaff-n-Go the last eight years and it is with mixed emotions that I step down,” he said.
Visit gaff-n-go.com for additional results and photos, as well as facebook.com/gaffngo.