More than 200 compete at annual lineworker rodeo in Virginia

Photo by Jennifer Wall, Communications Specialist, Southside Electric Cooperative.

Journeyman teams and individual apprentices from electric cooperatives, investor-owned and municipal utilities, contractors and the U.S. Army demonstrated their skills and knowledge while competing for professional recognition.

Photo by Gene Campbell, Director, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.

Celebrating its 19th year, the Terex Gaff-n-Go Lineworker Rodeo, hosted by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, attracted record-breaking numbers in all categories.

More than 200 utility lineworkers from seven states, including North and South Carolina, New York and California, gathered at the Meadow Event Center in Doswell, Va., on May 19 and 20 for the two-day competition, which also featured more than 60 vendor exhibits and a barbecue competition.

“Every day, lineworkers go out to serve communities,” says Steve Harmon, Gaff-n-Go Rodeo Committee chair and Community Electric Cooperative president and CEO. “In storms, in high wind, on holidays, no matter what, lineworkers are there to keep the lights on for families. VMDAEC’s lineworker rodeo is about celebrating that and giving the community an opportunity to see all the skill that goes into doing what lineworkers do. Make no mistake, without lineworkers our communities wouldn’t run — they are heroes. This weekend was about making sure they know it.”

Weather conditions were ideal and helped draw hundreds of spectators to encourage the competitors. The event began Friday with the Terex Equipment Operator Rodeo, which featured three events utilizing utility trucks and equipment. Friday concluded with a barbecue dinner and live performance by Will Reid, country music artist and BARC Electric Cooperative journeyman line technician.

Photo by Ginny Tyree, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative.

Saturday is the main event and includes a variety of competition events for journeyman teams and apprentices, such as climbing skills, pole-top rescue and fiberglass crossarm change-out. Apprentices must also compete in CPR and first-aid events and complete a written test.

VMDAEC President and CEO Brian Mosier says, “Celebrating these lineworkers, emphasizing worker safety and efficiency, and watching them compete with the best of the best is why we’ve been out here for 19 years, and it’s why we’ll be out here for years to come.”

The Gaff-n-Go Rodeo also serves as a significant fundraising event for the VMDAEC Scholarship Foundation. More than $5,000 was raised through a raffle featuring a grand prize from Milwaukee Tool.

This year’s top co-op team from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware was Southside Electric Cooperative in Crewe, Va. A full list of the 2023 Gaff-n-Go Rodeo winners and scores is available at Next year’s rodeo is scheduled for May 17-18 at Meadow Event Center.

VMDAEC thanks all of this year’s sponsors, including event sponsor Terex Utilities. The rodeo would not be possible without their continued generous support.

–Report by Jim Robertson, Director of Marketing, VMDAEC.