An Interview with Rodeo Emcee and Announcer Cy Taillon
"Cy" Taillon was arguably the most famous American rodeo announcer of the mid-20th century -- a world-famous and premier master of ceremonies and arena announcer. He is a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, and earned their Lifetime Achievement Award.
According to writer John L. Moore, Cy was "classy, dignified, and carrier of a flawlessly smooth voice, he soon became the best rodeo announcer in America."
On one particularly profound day, Moore writes, "Cy probably saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives at the State Fair in Great Falls, Montana in 1946 when two A-26 attack bombers crashed into the fairgrounds during an airshow. Eight people and a number of race horses perished and 10 people were badly injured. Panic, however, was averted, when Cy's smooth voice brought calm to the 20,000 horrified spectators."
Cy announced rodeos and horse events all over the world, and was perhaps the best informed as a judge of special events attainable anywhere. An annual announcer at Denver's National Western Stock Show, Cy was up-close and personal with every single NWSS performance that Westernaires made (e.g., in 1976, he announced the Varsity Red Team's "Firelight" drill 33 times). His opinion was of the utmost of importance to Westernaires director and founder, Elmer E. Wyland.
In 1976, Varsity Red Team majors Janice Green, Ann Melle, and Judy Hudgins had the opportunity to interview Mr. Taillon, in between performances at the National Western Stock Show. Below is an excerpt of their interview:
J, A, & J: What do you think of the Westernaires?
CT: I would say this on national television or radio: I think it is the greatest riding group I have ever seen in all my experience, and I've worked riding groups all over the world. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a magnificent drill but it is done at a prosaic trot. They have just the one charge, and it is a magnificent thing. But, there is no drill group, at least in my experience stemming over these 40 years, that has the speed, precision, color, and all that the Westernaires have. I marvel at it every time I present it, and I've been presenting Westernaires for about 28 years.
CT: It's a delight for another reason: I've been quite close to Elmer Wyland. I know his experience in dealing with young people, and to me this has been one of the greatest youth movements in the world. I love you kids. You look a person straight in the eye, you are clean cut and the record of the Westernaires proves what it has done for the community. I think it's done a terrific thing for the state, projecting an image of good clean youth and a good clean kind of recreation.
J, A, & J: If you had a chance to work with the Westernaires, can you think of anything you could do that might help improve the organization at all?
CT: It is very difficult to improve what in my mind is already perfect. When you have reached the absolute perfection that you have in your drills, there is no place to go except to maintain that particular level which is the highest that I think you can obtain. I can't see in any manner that you could improve the drills unless you went to the ridiculous extent, for example, of having every horse perfectly matched to size, as to color (which would be impossible), and I like the diversification, incidentally, of your horses. They're different just as humans are different and I think that's good. I can't think of a think that I would suggest. That's what amazes me about the group is the perfection in their drills and the speed with which all of these movements are executed.
CT: I think you have probably taken for granted having been a member of the Westernaires, you young ladies here, but think back in your own minds that you are doing something that very few young people can do to the perfection that you folks do it. You should be awfully proud of that.