For the last 16 years, apprentices and journeymen linemen have competed in the annual Gaff-n-Go Rodeo in Virginia. This year, the free event, which was sponsored by Terex, attracted more than 200 competitors from different states for the two-day rodeo at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia.
The Gaff-n-Go Equipment Operator's & Lineman’s Rodeo kicked off on a Friday morning in May with the equipment-operators’ rodeo, which tested each team’s ability to maneuver bucket trucks and digger derricks. Then, bright and early the next morning, the Gaff-n-Go Rodeo featured competitions among 56 individual apprentices and 25 three-man journeyman teams.
“There’s something for everyone at the Gaff-n-Go Rodeo,” says Richard Johnstone, president and CEO of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC), which hosts this event. “Working 40 ft above the ground on a course of utility poles, these professionals will be judged on whether a variety of tasks are performed according to safe and efficient work practices, as well as the time it takes them to complete each."
The name, Gaff-n-Go, refers to the “gaff,” or metal spike, that linemen attach to their boots to assist in climbing wooden utility poles. The rodeo took place on "Electric Utility Lineman Day," which was declared by the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam.
Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative ’s journeyman team of Jason McKinney, Mitch DeJarnette and Brad Clark took home the Jimmy Gardener Award, named for a pioneering Virginia lineman and given to the top-placing team among members of VMDAEC. In addition, MEC apprentice T.W. Parks finished second overall out of 53 competitors in his division. Apprentices J.P. Sweitzer and Rob Clary each placed well in the apprentice division.
Next year's event, which is open to all utilities, is slated for May 10-11, 2019. For more information on the 2018 competition and to view the full list of winners as well as more photos and a video, visit www.gaff-n-go.com.