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Help Bring Back the Casey Tibbs Statue to Fort Pierre!
Where is the iconic Casey Tibbs statue? 9-time World Champion Casey Tibbs and his horse were visibly located on the main highway in Fort Pierre along Highway 83/1st Street turnout, where tourists frequently visited. 25+ years of extreme out door conditions have weathered Casey’s statue and he and the horse are badly faded. Casey’s leather belt had all but deteriorated. The horses’ legs are cracked, the bridle, tail and mane has disintegrated. Casey and his horse are in dire need for a makeover.
The statue, owned by Dolly Muir, Casey Tibbs sister, was originally placed on top of a restaurant/tavern in Kirkland, Washington. Dolly had coordinated plans with her family to have the statue relocated to Fort Pierre. After Dolly’s death, her son, Boyd Muir and her granddaughter Dana Bosa brought it to South Dakota where it was placed on the turnout on the highway, just down the hill from the non-profit Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center (CTRC). For decades the statue has been an iconic symbol for the City of Fort Pierre, Casey’s hometown. (Tibbs died in the 1990’s).
It was discovered this spring that the original base made of concrete slabs, was unstable and city employees were surprised it help the statue up at all. The statue was removed in May of this year, during the parking lot renovation. It is currently being stored indoors until restoration can begin, contingent on acceptance of funding. Once the statue is restored, it will be placed on a solid, more appealing base. The Rodeo Center and the City of Fort Pierre are working together to create an attractive stable base for the icon. We are in the process of contracting with professionals to restore the statue to its original condition. Let’s bring our iconic symbol back to Fort Pierre so a piece of our western heritage can be restored!
Interested parties can contribute to the restoration of the statue and creation of the statue base by contacting the management staff at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center at 494-1094.
New “Film Theme” Display at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center
A new "Film Theme" room display has been created at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center museum complete with photos and memorabilia of Casey Tibbs life when he was involved in the film industry as an actor, stunt man and producer. Also on display: the Floating Horses photos and costume from the upcoming movie!
Casey Tibbs’ celebrity life was filled with bucking broncs, practical jokes, beautiful women, gambling, movies, money, and the highs and lows typically affiliated with a life of fame. Deemed in the 1950’s as the greatest bronc rider in the nation, Tibbs’ charismatic personality and unmatched horse riding abilities thrust him into the limelight. He became the youngest person to capture the World Champion title at age 19, with eight more world titles to follow.
He was involved in scores of movies later on in his career. “It’s a little known fact, Casey Tibbs was John Wayne’s ‘right hand man’ in many of Wayne’s movies” said Director Cindy Bahe. “Wayne utilized Tibbs cowboy background to assure the cowboys, horses and stock were realistic in nature.
Though Tibbs died in 1990, his legacy continues in the rodeo world, and his decorated life captured the interest of South Dakota native Justin Koehler. Koehler, an independent film producer, wanted to preserve the memoirs of the world champion, knowing the research would not be an easy undertaking. While maintaining a full-time job during the day, Koehler has dedicated his personal time to the vision and creation of a documentary called “Floating Horses – The Life of Casey Tibbs”– something no other producer has accomplished. "This is a human interest story about Casey,” said Koehler. “He was quickly thrown into fame and his life became a roller coaster of ups and downs. The film, which is two-thirds about his life and a third about riding, will make you laugh but it will also make you cry."
There has been great anticipation by people waiting for arrival of this film in our community. Koehler wants to finish with a quality documentary. The exact release date “Floating Horses” will be showcased in the Fort Pierre/Pierre area.
Anticipating the Arrival of "Floating Horses - The Life of Casey Tibbs By Cindy Lea Bahe, CTRC Director
Casey Tibbs’ celebrity life was filled with bucking broncs, practical jokes, beautiful women, gambling, movies, money, and the highs and lows typically affiliated with a life of fame. Deemed in the 1950’s as the greatest bronc rider in the nation, Tibbs’ charismatic personality and unmatched horse riding abilities thrust him into the limelight. He became the youngest person to capture the World Champion title at age 19, with eight more world titles to follow. To this day, his record remains untouched.
Though Tibbs died in 1990, his legacy continues in the rodeo world, and his decorated life captured the interest of South Dakota native Justin Koehler. Koehler, an independent film producer, wanted to preserve the memoirs of the world champion, knowing the research would not be an easy undertaking. While maintaining a full time job during the day, Koehler dedicated his personal time to the vision and creation of a documentary about Tibbs – something no other producer has accomplished. I had the opportunity to interview Koehler in between his busy schedules:
Bahe: What areas of the country did you traveled to in conducting interviews of Casey’s friends and family for this film?
Koehler: I travelled across South Dakota, as well as Colorado, Texas, Arizona, California and Nevada.
Bahe: You work full time at your main job and have been working on your own private time on the side to create this film. How many hours do you think you have put in?
Koehler: I easily work 28 hours a week, and I’ve probably been on that schedule for the past two years. It’s basically a part-time job.
Bahe: Who have you interviewed for this film?
Koehler: Baxter Black,
Bahe: During your interview with Jeb Rosebrook, you learned he owned rare reel-to-reel tapes, that were given to him half a century ago before Tibbs left for a rodeo overseas. The tapes, never viewed and kept in mint condition, were given to the film and donated to the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center. How much of the footage will be included in the film?
Koehler: All of the footage discovered during research will be used within the film. At the moment, only a handful of pictures have been used within the film because we have unearthed so much footage of Casey riding broncs. I guess that was a surprising moment! I’m pretty sure we have assembled the largest video collection of Casey Tibbs riding broncs in the world. Bold statement, I know, but I believe it’s true.
Bahe: How much of your own funds do you think you spent in airfare, motels, food, gas – or any other expenses?
Koehler: Luckily, I haven’t had to spend my own money. I have done various types of fundraisers to help finance Casey’s film… and as you know with the Rodeo Center- fundraising is a difficult and time consuming task.
Every penny I’ve raised for Casey’s film has gone toward producing this documentary. I have not paid myself a cent for wages or pocketed any money for profit. Casey used to call rodeo a gamble, and filmmaking is a gamble as well. If, and it’s a big “if”- if I were to see a profit from the film it would long down the road. I will have probably put three years of work into the film before any profit would occur. My main concern during this entire journey has been to produce a great story and whatever happens financially after the film is released will happen.
Bahe: Can people still donate to the movie?
Koehler: Yes, they can donate on Facebook under the Floating Horses page.
Bahe: What has been the most rewarding aspect of going through the process of creating this film from beginning to end?
Koehler: The most rewarding aspect has been getting to know who Casey Tibbs was. I will never claim to be an expert on someone else’s life, but I can confidently say that I know a heck of a lot about Casey Tibbs… maybe too much in some instances! The Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center has been a tremendous help in getting Casey’s film to where it’s at today, and I appreciate their support more than I could ever express in words or print.
Bahe: What has been the most frustrating?
Koehler: The most frustrating part is I wish I had more time during the day to work on Casey’s film. I have a full time job and a family, so that takes up a lot of hours during the day. When I should be having lunch at work, I’m working on Casey’s film, and when I should be sleeping at night, I’m working on Casey’s film. Someday I hope to be producing only my documentary films for a living and that will allow me to churn out documentaries at a quicker rate.
Bahe: What has it been like to work with Cole Elshere?
Koehler: Cole is a tremendous person both in and out of the rodeo arena. It’s been an honor to work with him, but I’m more honored to have become his friend throughout this process. The reenactment scenes he participated in have added a unique cinematic aspect to the film.
Bahe: A tailored costume was created for Elshere; who created the costume?
Koehler: The replica Nudie’s Rodeo Tailor shirt was recreated by Tammy Jane Designs. The replica Casey Tibbs purple chaps were created by Jory Zurcher. Greeley Hat Works crafted the black Casey Tibbs cowboy hat. The replica 1955 all-round champion belt buckle was fashioned by Tres Rios Silver. All other items for Cole’s wardrobe I had to search out and acquire myself. The costume will be on display at the film showing as well as the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center.
Bahe: Most people watch a film or TV show without knowing all the extra effects that go into producing a film. You mentioned the film needs to go through the final stages, like adding sound, music, graphics etc. What other effects need to be added to video?
Koehler: The final stages of a documentary film, or any film for that matter can vary depending on your subject matter and storytelling style. I have a certain look and feel that I hope Floating Horses conveys to the audience, and many talented people will help reach that finished, polished product.
An Online Editor/Colorist will enhance the footage within the film, so you attain a tailored ambiance or tone within your film. Audio sweetening is another key component to a film. Our audio sweetener will improve and clean the entire audio track of the film, so there is a consistent, clear level throughout. The musical score for a film could be considered the heartbeat of a film. In my opinion, music lifts audience’s emotions to unforeseen heights and is one of my favorite stages in filmmaking.
I will also bring on someone to narrate the film. I have an exciting person in mind, and I’m hopeful I can get them to lend their voice to Casey’s film. Graphics will be limited in Floating Horses because there hasn’t been a moment in the film where it seemed necessary to insert graphics.
Bahe: Now for the million-dollar question: When do you anticipate the film to be completed?
Koehler: I think I’ll have “picture lock” early this summer. From there, it depends on how long color correction, audio sweetening, and the musical score will take.
Bahe: I understand the film will be shown at the State 1,2,3 Theater in Pierre.
Koehler: If there is a showing in Pierre, it will be called a “private screening” for Casey’s hometown of Pierre and Fort Pierre. It may be a first come, first serve type of situation, but I honestly don’t know those details yet. I would probably have a donation box out for anyone who would like to contribute.
Bahe: Years ago, you produced the documentary “The Buffalo King” -a film about Scotty Philip and previewed it in Pierre. How was the interest level for that film?
Koehler: We filled Pierre’s largest theater at the State 1,2, 3, they opened up a second theater and it was nearly full as well. I can only imagine the interest Casey’s film will have.
Bahe: Other than the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center’s gift shop, where can one purchase a DVD of The Buffalo King?
Koehler: It is also available on Amazon.com
Bahe: Will Floating Horses be available on DVD for purchase after the initial debut?
Koehler: I will be entering the film into numerous film festivals around the world. The festivals are a great avenue for independent filmmakers to showcase their films and possibly receive a distribution deal. Once I complete the festival process, the Floating Horses DVD will be available for sale at the two outlets mentioned above as well as other venues.
Bahe: Where can we find a trailer on the film?
Koehler: The Floating Horses trailer can be found at: https://vimeo.com/125294863. I’m confident the trailer will entice people to see the film in its’ entirety.
Rodeo Center Received Rare Reel-toReel Tapes of Casey Tibbs
We received rare reel-to-reel tapes of Casey Tibbs last year. Now let's jump back in time more than five decades; in 1962, 9-time World Champion Casey Tibbs was leaving for Japan to introduce rodeo to the country. Before his departure Tibbs wanted to assure the tapes were in safe hands while he was gone; therefore he gave them to friends Jeb & Dorothy Rosebrook of Arizona. After his return from Japan, Tibbs never requested they be returned to him and Rosebrook’s never opened the box.
More than a half century later, Rosebrook’s were being interviewedfor the documentary “Floating Horses – The Life of Casey Tibbs.” The couple decided it was time to open the box and place them in the hands of the independent Film Producer, Justin Koehler. This would allow Koehler access to rare footage of the rodeo star to be used in his documentary. “They obviously had a great amount of trust in me to take these back to the studio in Denver,” said Koehler. “It took me a long time to get the tapes through TSA as I didn’t want the airport scanners to ruin the tapes. Let’s just say I was really happy to get them home.” Rosebrooks donated the original reel-to-reel tapes still housed in the metal canisters to the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center. The Center is making Blu-ray copies of the films for archives. “The reel-to-reel tapes are in mint condition and were not viewed prior to using footage for the documentary,” said Bahe. “We are so excited to have them here to add to Casey’s permanent displays.”
Clips of the films include black & white recordings of Casey Tibbs riding broncs, Native American rodeos and Tibbs riding donkeys in front of city slickers. There is actual footage of “The Young Rounders” movie which Tibbs produced and starred in with Slim Pickens, Joel McCrea and Montie Montana. The film was later released in 1966.
The media and the public are invited to attend a viewing of the trailer for the “Floating Horses – The Life of Casey Tibbs” documentary on Friday, May 1 at 10:00am (central time). Producer Koehler will also be presenting the reel-to reel tapes to the Rodeo Center. The documentary is projected to be completed by the end of this year.
Faith cowboy Cole Elshere to star in Casey Tibbs “Floating Horses” Documentary
Cole Elshere is a rising star, not only in rodeo, but in film as well. The South Dakota native is a two-time NFR qualifier and talented bronc rider. With his riding talents and good looks, Elshere fit the part to play Casey Tibbs in the “Floating Horses” documentary, being produced by native South Dakotan Justin Koehler. Elshere was featured in the June 6 edition of Pro Rodeo Sports News magazine.
The June 6 issue of the PSN features South Dakota saddle bronc rider Cole Elshere on the cover.
Casey Tibbs Items--undiscovered for more than sixty years-(Posted May 2014)
A dusty, forgotten box found in a California storage shed revealed rare photographs and journals of Casey Tibbs. Tibbs, a 9-time world bronc riding champ, who’s record has never been matched, had saved many personal photos and letters. Five or more decades ago, he had given the documents to his long-time friend, who is now in her late 90’s.
“I received a call from a woman asking me if we would be remotely interested in the items,” said Director Cindy Bahe. “I would have been a fool to turn down a rare find such as that. When I received the box, I was like a kid in a candy store. Inside, there were photos I had never seen –one with Dale Evans and photos of Casey with several actors. There were publicity photos of Casey visiting patients in California hospitals, photos of people riding horses through the river during the filming of the movie “Born to Buck and a rare photo of Casey and Miss South Dakota 1954, Cleo Harrington, whom Casey eventually married.”
The box also contained journals, typed by a ribbon typewriter on thin, fragile onion paper. The journals, written by Casey, were his personal accounts of his life growing up on the prairie of South Dakota, a tense poker game he was involved in and when he fell in love with his soon to be wife Cleo. “We reproduced the journals verbatim, leaving in language lingo and mistakes, to preserve their authenticity,” said Bahe. “Casey was quite a character and didn’t leave anything to the imagination so the stories are quite interesting to read.”
The Rodeo Center also received several photos from a separate donator, of Casey purchasing a purple Cadillac from a Mobridge car dealer. Casey needed good transportation to hit the South Dakota rodeo circuit and he travelled in style.
“We’re excited to add these artifacts to the Rodeo Center. So many things have changed with our world over the last five or six decades and it’s interesting to read the way of life as a rodeo celebrity who was front and center in the western way of life,” concluded Bahe.