More than 160 lineworkers gathered May 13-14 in Doswell, Va., for the Gaff-n-Go Lineworker Rodeo, which returned after two years of pandemic-related cancellations.
Coordinated 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.
“Getting everyone out for the event seems like it’s a step on the way back to some degree of normalcy,” says Brian Mosier, VMD Association president and CEO. “The energy was awesome those two days and you could tell everyone was excited to be back.”
The all-event journeyman title among 26 three-member teams went to Chad Domonic, Jared Seeloff and Wendell Young of Dominion Energy. They took first place in climbing skills, a primary insulator change-out and a 600-amp vertical switch change to propel them to tops overall.
A trio of co-op teams repeated their 2019 successes, the last time the rodeo was held, by winning the cooperative journeyman lineworker title, the equipment operator’s rodeo, and top honors in the popular Gaff-n-Grill cookout.
The Delaware Electric Cooperative team of Phillip Collison, Dave Morgan and Mike Layton won a second consecutive Jimmy Gardner Award, given to the top co-op team in honor of a longtime Central Virginia Electric Cooperative line superintendent. The team also finished in the top three in five of the journeyman events.
Rappahannock Electric Cooperative scored a first in the TEREX Equipment Operators Rodeo, as Alister Pollard, Thomas Bailey and Addison Spicer maneuvered machinery better than the rest of the field, just as they did when the Gaff-n-Go was held in 2019.
Adam Wainwright of Dominion topped Scott Geovannello of Southside Electric Cooperative by just two points to finish first among apprentices.
Besting 14 other teams to maintain the Gaff-n-Grill championship was Blowin’ Smoke, the REC unit of Steve Mason, David Annalora and Doug Miller.
Virginia Del. Lamont Bagby of Richmond started festivities by reading a proclamation signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin that declared Electric Utility Day in Virginia.
Intermittent precipitation dampened the lineworkers who were judged on a combination of safety and skills by more than 60 volunteer judges from electric utilities. “Rain doesn’t bother us. We just keep going,” says Clint Card of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, a judge and event organizer.
Will Reid, a BARC Electric Cooperative lineworker profiled in Cooperative Living, delivered strong renditions of the National Anthem each day, with Pastor Randy Golladay delivering the invocation. The festivities wrapped up with an inspirational speech by Mike Schlappi, a wheelchair basketball gold medalist and author, to a sold-out banquet at the Hilton Richmond Hotel. Everyone joined in the spirit as Schlapi invited the son and daughter of CVEC’s D.J. Noble to share the stage with him.
Thanks to lead sponsor TEREX and the record number of vendors who supported the rodeo.