Ranch rodeo getting bumped to primetime
July 2, 2014
Steamboat Springs — The motivation, Dean Vogelaar explained, was as grassroots as it gets.
Steamboat Springs will celebrate its 111th Cowboy Roundup Days this weekend, and this year, the event will ride high with a new tweak on an old event. The ranch rodeo has been a Fourth of July weekend staple for 15 years, but with an afternoon time slot and non-traditional events, it's often been lightly attended.
This year, the ranch rodeo has been sanctioned by a national organization, is attracting some of the top teams in the United States and has been bumped up to primetime on Thursday night. The reasoning, Vogelaar explained: "We wanted to keep the cowboy in Cowboy Roundup Days."
Certainly, there's been no shortage of cowboys on one of the premier weekends in Steamboat Springs summers. Some years there have been cattle drives down Lincoln Avenue. There are always at least two performances of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series, and when July 4 doesn't fall on a Friday or a Saturday, there are three.
But ranch rodeo cowboys can make even a few of those Wrangler-wearing riders seem like city folk.
The Working Ranch Cowboy Association requires all of its athletes be actual working cowboys, ranch hands who spend their days roping and riding not with the hope of earning a ticket to the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas, but because someone has to tend to the herd.
The events of a ranch rodeo reflect that requirement of the WRCA. There's no "Wow, who does that?" events such as bull riding and barrel racing. Instead, events will include various tests of roping and corralling abilities in events like team doctoring, team branding and trailer loading as well as wild cow milking, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, and ranch bronc riding.
"We had conversations on the Steamboat Pro Rodeo Series board and we really talked about keeping the cowboy in Cowboy Roundup Days and we felt by doing this rodeo, it really adds to that," Vogelaar said.
Events in years past have included a wide variety of competitors from across the region, including four or five teams Vogelaar said would be able to go toe-to-toe with this year's field. Getting certified as a WRCA team, however, kept them from throwing their hats in the ring.
The rest of the field in recent years would be filled by cowboys and cowgirls more likely to have a good time than to post a winning time.
This year, there will be 10 teams from across the United States, and from top to bottom they'll be fast and talented.
The event, which starts at 6:30 p.m., will cost $20 for adults and $10 for children, and proceeds will go to the fund for improving the rodeo grounds. Funds also will go to the Wrangler National Patriot Programs and STARS, and there are plans to have veterans in town for the STARS and Stripes Heroes Camp.
The event will include ram and calf scrambles for the children, though a planned portion of the weekend's bull riding were scrapped.
Then, of course, Friday and Saturday, the regular Steamboat Springs rodeo will return, surely packed as always on the busy July 4 weekend.
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