Rodeo rides back into Steamboat Springs this weekend | SteamboatToday.com

Rodeo rides back into Steamboat Springs this weekend

Kyle Weides, of Laramie, Wyoming, competes in the bareback riding competition during the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series season opener last year at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena. The summer season begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and will run throughout the summer through Aug. 16.

— There never was any horror story of a bull escaping early or of a gate failing at the worst moment. But the 25-year-old chutes and sorting pens underneath the aluminum grandstands at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena at the base of Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs were in nearly constant need of repair, Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo's Brian Dellen said.

The rough stock and chutes boss for the past seven years of the rodeo's 20-plus annual summer performances, Dellen has had a front row seat to the wear and tear the system has endured.

"Ingenuity was the way of keeping everything going," he said. "We have a city crew that's phenomenal with their nightly attention. We would tear stuff up and by the next night, it was ready to go again, or sometimes it'd be ready even during that performance."

Temporary fixes, broken parts and welds on top of welds — those are all the reasons why Dellen and the rest of the crew that put on the rodeo, which begins its 21-performance summer run at 7:30 p.m. Friday, are thrilled to have a brand-new set of equipment.

The bucking chutes and gates were entirely replaced this spring at the city-owned facility.

"It's a privilege for us," Dellen said.

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He said there will be a learning curve associated with the new equipment, but the end result will be a better rodeo for fans, for contestants and for the biggest stars of the show, the animals.

"It was a safety issue," said John Shipley, rodeo announcer and board member. "This is top of the line, first cabin stuff, and it should really help the production."

The new chutes will make organizing the rough stock — bulls, bareback riding broncos and saddleback riding broncos — easier to organize and get into the right place at the right time. They'll also be quieter and smoother operating, minimizing the level or irritation on the animals.

"The new chutes have a lot cleaner delivery, meaning those animals will load easier, so they'll be more calm and cool," Dellen said.

Those new chutes represent the first step in a planned major overhaul for the rodeo grounds, and they represent the biggest change heading into this year's rodeo season.

The rodeo will run every Friday and Saturday night through Aug. 16, with an additional performance July 3 that will feature a Working Ranch Cowboy Association ranch rodeo and a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bull riding competition.

The first weekend of the summer will feature a jam packed schedule. There will be 26 teams of ropers, a dozen riders each in bareback and saddle bronc riding, 19 steer wrestlers, 28 tiedown ropers, 53 barrel racers and more than 40 bull riders split between the permit bull riding (the junior varsity, to some degree) and the full-on bull riding event.

"More than 40 outs in bull riding is a lot of bull riding," Shipley said. "There will be some pretty good checks."

Rodeo tickets are available for $20 at the gate for adults, or $18 at pre-sale locations. Children between 7 years old and 15 cost $10 at the gate or $9 before while younger children are free.

Sheraton Steamboat Resort, Gondola General, F.M. Light & Sons, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Steamboat Central Reservations are all pre-sale locations.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, runs through Aug. 16. July 3, 4 and 5 performances begin at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Brent Romick Rodeo Arena at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs

Cost: $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 7 to 15 at the gate. $18 and $9 from pre-sale locations: Sheraton Steamboat Resort, Gondola General, F.M. Light & Sons, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Steamboat Central Reservations. Season passes also are available for $100 and good for each rodeo event except the July 4 competitions.

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