Laurel grad making name for himself in rodeo

By 
Joe Kusek Of The Outlook Staff
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Garrison Allen, a 2016 graduate of Laurel High School, is climbing the rodeo announcer ladder. He has earned his PRCA card and works rodeos of all levels. Photo courtesy of Garrison Allen

Garrison Allen, a 2016 graduate of Laurel High School, is climbing the rodeo announcer ladder. He has earned his PRCA card and works rodeos of all levels. Photo courtesy of Garrison Allen

Garrison likes to talk. Always has.

Man, woman or child, it doesn’t make a difference. He is always willing to visit with anybody who comes within his personal circumference.

“I have the gift of gab,” said the friendly 2016 graduate of Laurel High School.

Now the 24-year-old Allen is combining his personal trait with a long-time passion for rodeo.

He is making himself a name as a rodeo announcer.

“I would love to make this a full-time job,” said Allen, who works for a construction company in Bozeman. “If I could, I would love to be going down the road announcing every weekend.”

Announcing might be the most difficult rodeo segment to crack. Rodeo committees like to change stock contractors, bullfighters and special acts every few years. But many rodeo announcers have worked the same event for decades.

This past December, Allen had a booth at the PRCA convention prior to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, trying to meet with rodeo committees.

“It’s all about who you know,” he said. “It’s pretty tough for new announcers to get work. But still, it’s one of those deals where it is really good to be seen.”

And he is being seen more and more.

His father, David Allen, has a long involvement with western sports. He owned a sports marketing company in Charlotte, North Carolina that was heavily into NASCAR. His high-profile client was Dale Earnhardt Sr. The elder Allen also produced the College National Finals Rodeo and still produces the Professional Bull Riders Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The younger Allen, along with his brother Logan, grew up in that atmosphere.

“I’ve always had a fascination with the rodeo announcers,” said Garrison. “When I was 17, I told my dad I wanted to be a rodeo announcer. He said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ “

Allen persevered, and at 19, told him, “OK, I want to do this for real,” he said.

Allen worked two events, the steer roping at the Days of 76 Rodeo in Deadwood, South Dakota and the PRCA Plains rodeo with legendary Bob Tallman, considered the standardbearer among rodeo announcers.

“I caught the bug right there. This is it,” said Allen. “A lot of guys come with the background of competing. I’m from the other side. I’ve seen the production side of it my whole life.”

He continues to work the Days of 76 with Jim Thompson, also one of the best.

“Jim has been so helpful to me,” said Allen. “Not just announcing, but with life. Working Deadwood, that was door opening.”

Allen earned an associate degree at Montana State while building his rodeo resume.

Finding his own voice, Allen worked youth rodeos at Miller’s Horse Palace in Laurel, along with high school rodeos in Forsyth and Lewistown.

Forsyth was a bit colder than most.

“It felt like we had six inches of snow,” said Allen. “It was cold, cold. Your up in an open crow’s nest. Nothing like trying to write scores and times down with gloves on.”

He’s worked summer series rodeos in Kalispell and Rapid City, along with open rodeos and Northern Rodeo Association events, including East Helena. Allen also works the slack performance of the College National Finals Rodeo.

“Working all those have a snowball effect,” he said. “Somebody knows somebody at a rodeo that needs an announcer.”

Allen earned his PRCA card last year.

The process includes filling out a form listing five rodeos with the performance times so a member of the PRCA can check out the would-be applicant.

“I was working in Rapid City and was supposed to be in Deadwood,” remembered Allen. “I got the call the day before, ‘You’re in.’ Luckily, I didn’t have to drive very far for my next event.

“When I walked into the announcers meeting, they said. ‘Welcome to the brotherhood.’ ”

Always soaking up knowledge, his rodeo education continues with every performance.

“Rodeos have completely different nights with completely different crowds,” Allen said. “One night, it might be mostly women who are interested in the barrel racing. The next night, there might be more men in the crowd who are interested in the bull riding.

“I love the youth. I love getting the kids involved. The kids are the next one who are going to buy a ticket. We have to keep them involved in rodeo.

“I just love the people I have met.”

Allen is still in the process of finding his rodeo voice.

“I don’t have a catch phrase yet,” he said with a laugh. “I’m still developing my own style and technique. I’m just trying different things.”

And like his peers, he is searching for that elusive moment when there is that connection between announcer and audience.

“When you’re announcing and say the right thing and have them in the palm of your hand,” said Allen. “Then you deliver the punch line and they go crazy. There is something about it … when they react to what you said.”

And before picking up the microphone, he heeds some advice offered a few years ago.

“Bob Tallman told me, ‘There is someone in the audience who is hearing you for the first time in their life,’ “ Allen said.

It won’t be the last time they are hearing Garrison Allen.

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