Longtime Woodlake Rodeo announcer Nicholson dies in off-road crash

Chad Nicholson is dead at the age of 50 following a 4-wheeling accident on Highway 245 near Badger


WOODLAKE –  A hush fell across the professional rodeo circuit over the weekend when the longtime voice of the Woodlake Rodeo, Chad Nicholson, died in a off road accident. 

Nicholson was killed while 4-wheeling in a jeep on Highway 245 near Badger on May 17. According to the California Highway Patrol, the crash happened at about 6:20 p.m. when a tow rope snapped, sending the jeep down a 40-foot cliff. As of press time, CHP could not confirm if Nicholson was killed before the tow truck arrived or after the cable snapped. He was 50 years old. 

Nicholson announced the Pro Rodeo circuit with the same intensity as a cowboy trying to win his next belt buckle. He announced rodeos all over the country, working more than 100 performances per year in pro rodeo and professional bull riding, since becoming a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) announced in 1993, but his heart was with the Woodlake Rodeo. Nicholson announced the Woodlake Rodeo until 2015. When he wasn’t on the road, Nicholson made his summer home in northern Utah and winter home in Three Rivers on the edge of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. He and his wife, Jennifer Welch Nicholson, operated the world famous Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls trick riding and roping, along with a board of directors to run the non-profit educational organization for young women. 

A former U.S. Marine, he is known for his smooth voice, powerful delivery, and his signature American Flag tribute, “If Old Glory Could Speak.” Nicholson announced at PRCA rodeos in 39 states across the country, including the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2002; RAM Wilderness Circuit Finals Rodeo (2005, 2014-15); RAM Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo (2001, 2005); RAM California Circuit Finals Rodeo (1998-99, 2002, 2006, 2008); RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo (1996); Black Hills Roundup (Belle Fourche, S.D., 2001-15); Rooftop PRCA Rodeo (Estes Park, Colo., 2000-14); and the Oakdale (Calif.) Saddle Club Rodeo (2003-10). He was the emcee for the 2015 ProRodeo Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colo., and at the 2018 PRCA Awards Banquet in Las Vegas.

Outside of professional rodeo, Nicholson voiced over radio/TV commercials and various other projects worldwide. He is the voice of the talking dog and liner voice on the FarmersOnly.com TV commercial “riding date” and “fishing date” spots, which still air. He also announced at monster truck shows. In 2012, he was part of the production crew for the United States’ portion of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th Diamond Jubilee Celebration, All the Queen’s Horses, at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, with the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls.

Nicholson also trained the next generation of rodeo announcers. In 2005, at the urging of his friend, ProRodeo Hall of Fame announcer Bob Tallman, Nicholson founded the Chad Nicholson Rodeo Announcer’s Training Seminar, held annually in Fort Worth, Texas. Now in its 14th year with over 130 students from the US, Canada, and Australia, it has become the top rodeo announcer’s school with many award-winning graduates. 

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