Rodeo rides back in to Steamboat on Friday night |

Rodeo rides back in to Steamboat on Friday night

A steer wrestler flies in for the takedown earlier this year at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series. The 10-weekend event returns at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat Springs for its seventh go-around this summer.

— Rodeo clown Keith Isley said Steamboat Springs is just different.

The long-time entertainer — voted tops in the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association last summer — performs all across the country, from Jackson, Tenn., to Rapid City, S.D., and from Elk City, Okla., to Window Rock, Ariz.

He spent last week in Pretty Prairie, Kan., and next month he will visit Abilene, Texas.

He coasted into Steamboat Springs on Sunday for his second stint with the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series this summer and had little trouble remembering why the town always finds its way onto his itinerary.

"It's everything you'd like to have in a rodeo," Isley said, pointing to good organizers and skilled cowboys, but also to receptive crowds.

Isley explained that each rodeo is different. Pretty Prairie, for instance, attracts mostly a rural Kansas crowd, fans for whom — wait for it — it isn't their first rodeo.

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Steamboat, meanwhile, produces a dedicated local following but also an ever-changing crop of summer vacationers from everywhere from the Denver suburbs to East Coast metropolises.

He's confident his comedy and his tricks, many of which are centered on specially trained dogs and horses, will draw loud applause no matter the crowd's background, but it's always a little special when he's playing to rodeo first-timers.

"When I was here for the Fourth, after my performance, I was walking back to my trailer and this family who had been at their first rodeo was leaving and walked by me," Isley said. "They were just mesmerized and kept asking, 'How did you make your horse do that?'

"I took the time and spoke to them, got my horse out and took some pictures with the kids and signed autographs. I feel I helped them have a good experience ­— that maybe they went from rodeo spectators to rodeo fans."

Isley should have plenty of help entertaining the crowd at 7:30 p.m. Friday as the rodeo rolls into the seventh week of its 10-weekend stay in Steamboat.

Rodeo fans across the nation have their attention turned to the final weekend of the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo in Wyoming. While that event may sap some strength from Steamboat, it also brings a lot of ropers and riders into the neighborhood and can help strengthen the field in Steamboat.

"We have competition in every event, so that's good this time of year," rodeo board member John Shipley said.

This weekend also marks the beginning of the most important push in the season-long points championships in each event. Contestants for most of the season receive one championship point per dollar earned. For the final three weeks, they receive two, meaning it's this end of the season which will decide everything for the athletes.

With or without that added incentive, Shipley was confident the series was set to close out another summer strongly.

"There are a lot of folks in town this weekend, and whether they understand the intricacies of tie-down roping or not, they'll have a lot of fun," he said.

If you go

What: Steamboat Pro Rodeo Series

Where: Brent Romick Rodeo Arena

When: Friday and Saturday. Entertainment begins at 6:15 p.m., rodeo begins at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $15 for adults, $8 for children ages 7 to 15 and free for children 6 and younger. Adult series passes cost $45 and are available only through the weekend. Pre-sale tickets are available at Sheraton Steamboat Resort, The Steamboat Grand, Gondola General, the information kiosk in Gondola Square, F.M. Light & Sons, All That Jazz, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Steamboat Central Reservations. All tickets are general admission, except for VIP tickets.


Rodeo schedule

6 p.m. Pre-rodeo barbecue starts

6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Pre-rodeo live entertainment

7:30 p.m. Rodeo starts

Order of events

(Subject to change nightly)

Opening ceremonies

Bareback riding

Sponsor flags

Team roping

Calf scramble

Tie-down roping

Ram scramble

Steer wrestling

Clown act

Saddle bronc riding

No. 11 team roping

Cowgirls barrel racing

Pee wee barrel racing

Bull riding

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