An Interview with Rodeo Announcer Hadley Barrett

Hadley Barrett, Rodeo Announcer and Emcee, in 1975.  Photo courtesy of 101 Wild West Rodeo.

The venerable Hadley Barrett was one of the most well-known PRCA rodeo announcers in his time.  Born in September 18th, 1929, he announced for rodeos all over the United States for more than 50 years.  Many Colorado natives remember Hadley very fondly as a long-time master of ceremonies at Denver's National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.  A PRCA member since 1965, Hadley was named their Announcer of the Year in 1983, 1985, 1989, and 2002.  

Hadley was among the first to announce while on horseback and has always been credited with an honest approach to arena accidents and mishaps.  Barrett’s legacy is his willingness to share his talent and experience with others.  He is known for taking rookie announcers under his wing and sharing hard-earned information.  Hadley Barrett passed away at the age of 87 on March 2nd, 2017.


In 1982, Westernaires Varsity Red Team's Major Patty Miller and Major Gary Feazell caught up with Hadley at National Western Stock Show to ask him his thoughts regarding Westernaires.  Here are some highlights from that interview:

Varsity Red Team Alumnus Gary Feazell as he dashes out of the arena at the 1980 Festival of the West

P&G: How do you compare National Western to other horse shows and rodeos?

HB: As far as the National Western, it's the premier rodeo of all time.  The audience, as you people know, is tremendous to work with.  They seem to appreciate all the rodeo and horse show events and, specifically, the Westernaire events.  I love them and the audience does, too.

P&G: You have worked our shows before; what do you think the audience likes most?

HB: It's very evident that you have worked very hard at what you do: the precise timing.  As long as I have worked your drill, I have never seen one come apart.  The special lighting effects that you have for the salute to America is probably the highlight.  However, speaking as an announcer, I feel very comfortable in relying on you people on the ground.  When I call for the gate and the color guard, you're always there.  You come in on the run, you add a lot of flare, dozens of things I can appreciate very much.

P&G: How do you compare the Westernaires with other drill teams you have announced, such as the Canadian Mounties?

HB: The Canadian Mounties, I think, would be an unfair comparison.  They are military oriented and their drill is a much more low key drill than yours.  I think I can say, without any reservations, I don't think there is anyone in the world that can touch [the Westernaires].

P&G: What do you think of our [Firelight drill]? What kind of impact does it have?

The 1982 Varsity Red Team Majors, Gary Feazell and Patty Miller, pose with Westernaires Founder and Director, Elmer E. Wyland, in the paddock of National Western Stock Show

HB: Oh, I think it is great and some of the things we have reflected to the audience here, in that there seems to be some general reservations [in this nation] as to whether our young people are ready to take over our country, and the duties to replace and manage a country like ours.  And I get the strong feeling in watching the discipline and dedication in what [the Westernaires] have to do and apply themselves.  I think what touches me most in these drills is the very intricate and beautiful choreography.  I mean, it's beautiful and it's something else to watch it.  You know, I get the feeling that this is what we are all about in America.  That if these are the kind of people that are going to take over the the duties to run our country, I'm not afraid to turn it over to them at all.  

P&G: Do you think there is anything we can do to improve our drill in any way?

HB: I really don't. You constantly come up with new maneuvers, such as the Corkscrew, that you do in the big Varsity drill [Firelight].  I love that.  The intricate movements that are in it, I find it very comfortable to associate it to the audience.  I think if you continue to present yourself in the manner that you traditionally have in the years that I have been with the Westernaires, I think the new drills will take care of themselves and you will continue to stay number one.

Hadley Barrett and Barrelman Leon Coffee in Greeley, Colorado for the 2012 Greeley Stampede.  Westernaires is proud to call both of these gentlemen a friend; and both are legends in their own right.  Photo courtesy of The Fence Post.

Hadley Barrett in action in the announcer's booth at Denver's National Western Stock Show & Rodeo.  Photo courtesy of Tom Harding, TSM via K99 Radio.