Emotional rodeo tribute held to honor John Hammack - KPTV - FOX 12

Emotional rodeo tribute held to honor John Hammack

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REDMOND, OR (KPTV) -

An emotional tribute was held at the start of the Deschutes County Rodeo in Redmond on Friday to honor John Hammack, the professional tree faller contractor who died Thursday morning after being hit by a fallen tree near Dugout Lake in the Mt. Washington Wilderness area of the Deschutes National Forest.

Rodeo organizers told FOX 12 that they wanted to take time to honor Hammack for everything he gave to the rodeo world in central Oregon throughout his life. This year's Deschutes County Rodeo was dedicated in Hammack's honor, the rodeo announcer told the crowd on Friday night.

When the announcer's voice filled with emotion at the beginning of the tribute, it was hard to hold back tears. Thousands stood in silence in the stands as a riderless horse entered the ring in Hammack's honor.

"John was a hard worker. He had his dreams, and he followed up. One of his biggest dreams, if not his biggest dream, was rodeo," said close friend Denny Peckham.

Hammack spent much of his life in arenas like the one where Friday's rodeo was held.

Peckham first met Hammack more than 30 years ago. On Thursday, Peckham was supposed to go out to Hammack's house to pick up some rodeo pictures so that they could be framed, he said. He found out later in the day that his longtime friend was gone.

"Empty. Hollow. Something missing," Peckham said. "I've been feeling weird all day."

Hammack's family members told FOX 12 that he was an avid rodeo bareback rider who won the all-around at the Sisters Rodeo many times. He even rode in New York's Madison Square Garden to win a world championship, they added.

During Friday night's tribute, the Color Guard presented Hammack's family with an American flag.

"John Hammack, this rodeo is dedicated to you," the announcer said.

By all accounts, Hammack was a gifted, hard working man.

He was the best dad and friend anyone could have, Peckham said.

"I'm finding out what he was a bigger legend that we all thought because everybody's hurting right now," he said.
 
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