Rodeo on course for record-breaking season

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— With just one weekend left in its season, the Steamboat Springs Professional Rodeo Series is on a record-breaking pace.

This year's rodeo has already shattered the old record, rodeo director Brent Romick said. If this weekend stays on pace, the 11-week series should draw more than 30,000 spectators for the summer.

The Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series will come to a close this weekend with the season finale. Performances will start at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Saturday night's rodeo will feature the Pat Mantle Memorial Saddle Bronc riding competition. The top six saddle bronc riders and top six horses will compete in a winner-take-all event. There will also be an awards ceremony following the rodeo at the Pine Grove's Ore House bar. That event will start about 10:30 p.m. immediately following the final rodeo performance of the year.

"The final numbers aren't in yet," Romick said. "We've still got two nights left, so we will just have to see what happens."

One thing is for sure: A new attendance mark will be set into the record books. Through 10 weeks, the Steamboat rodeo series has drawn 28,883 people. That's compared to 22,300 last year.

"We have three more rodeo performances this year," rodeo secretary Char Mighton said. "We had one more over the Fourth of July and we went a week longer."

The last time the rodeo posted numbers like this year's was in 1996 when 23,800 spectators passed through the gates for an 11-week rodeo season. Romick said the numbers will be very comparable when the dust clears on the 2000 season.

"It's been a very strong year," said John Shipley, board member and announcer for the rodeo. "Part of that had to do with our dry weather we didn't have any rain outs and part of it has to do with the rodeo performances."

Shipley said the folks running the rodeo have worked really hard to make the performance run as efficiently and quickly as possible. He also said the investment in a moving message board and having a clown every weekend has also paid off.

"You invest in your own success," Shipley said. "I think we have done that the last couple of years."

Romick also felt very strongly that having 11 straight weeks of rodeo helped the series this summer. He feels that numbers have been off in recent years because the rodeo went dark for a weekend to accommodate the Steamboat Springs Derby Classic cutting horse competition.

"We are in the business of providing Steamboat with a 11-week rodeo series not just one week of rodeo," Romick said.

"This is the largest national pro rodeo series going in the summer," Romick said. "It draws a large range, and a large number, of people to Steamboat in the summer," Romick said.

In addition to the high number of spectators, the local series is also boasting record contestant numbers this summer.

The rodeo drew 1,500 cowboys and cowgirls to Steamboat this year. That will also beat a record set in 1996 when 1,400 contestants took part in the local series.

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@amigo.net

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