After a two-year absence, a skid steer loader rodeo will return to the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair as a tribute to the memory of Bob Green, a long-time Finch Services employee and beloved person in the community who hosted and organized the rodeo before its retirement.
Green, 57, of Finksburg, died Sept. 8, 2013, after working as an account manager with Finch for 18 years.
"Bob was like the mayor of Westminster. Everyone knew him no matter what he did. He was a big gentleman with a big presence and it was as though, when he stood in the massive arena, it was sized for his personality," said Vince Boone, a co-worker and friend of Green's.
For years Green was the person in the middle of the skid steer rodeo. He would drop the flag to start the event, get people excited before it began and drum up competitors through his work and community connections.
Initially, the idea for the event came from Stephen Shipley, who at the time was both a manager at Finch and a member of the entertainment committee on the fair board. The fair was looking to add an additional entertainment segment to its evening schedule, Shipley said, and other fairs were doing something similar.
Since Green was the salesman responsible for the product segment at the dealership they both worked at, he became a big part of the skid loader rodeo production, Shipley said.
"Basically, he took the premise and ran with it," Boone said. "He really embraced it."
The fair and skid steer event will miss Green this year, said Shannan Finch Hidey, marketing manager at Finch, who is helping to organize this year's rodeo return. But she hopes that the tribute honors his memory and that his surviving family members appreciate it.
Skid steer loaders, heavy duty pieces of equipment typically used on farms or construction sites, are repurposed for the rodeo, becoming tools for navigating through an obstacle.
Depending on the event's set-up, the obstacle could include placing a log on top of another object, moving a tire to a new location, pouring water while spilling as little as possible or "bucket basketball," Hidey said.
This year's event will feature teams of four with four different tracks for competition. Most competitors know how to operate a skid steer, and regulations require them to be above the age of 18, but participation is open to the public.
Finch has partnered with the 4-H fair for a number of years, Hidey said. It is the exclusive equipment supplier and has a great relationship with the fair, she said.
Organizing the rodeo this year has brought a wave of memories to Green's former coworkers. Among them, his organizational skills, Boone said, could have used some improvements. The day of the rodeo often included some last-minute preparations — hauling skid steers to the fair, running to Target to buy stop watches, emptying drums to use as obstacles in the course.
"No one would know that we finished two seconds before we needed to, though," Boone said, laughing. "Somehow we always got it done. It was really a labor of love for him."
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For Ray Finch, the owner and president of Finch Services, the return of the rodeo, while it may not be on a permanent basis, is a good opportunity for friendly competition and camaraderie, and more importantly, a great way to memorialize Green.
"Everyone recognized Bob, and he enjoyed having an activity that brought a lot of folks together, in the industry that he loved," Finch said. "The event will be full of great memories, and it'll hopefully be a fun time for the community. We're hoping a lot of people come out and sign up."
If you go
Bob Green Memorial Skid Steer Rodeo, a team competition
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 27
Where: Buck Miller Arena, Carroll County Agriculture Center, 706 Agriculture Center Drive, Westminster
Interested participants can register at 5 p.m. Sunday, July 27, at the Finch Tent at the fair, or before July 27 by emailing SkidSteerRodeo@finchinc.com.