Rope them into Labor Day

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Before the cutting horse enthusiasts find a corral other than Steamboat Springs for next summer's season, city and chamber officials would be wise to see if something can be done to keep Romick Arena on the schedule.

Frustrated by the fact they have to play second fiddle to the local pro rodeo series, and concerned that space limitations will prevent them from growing any larger, organizers of the Steamboat Springs Derby Classic cutting horse competition said Aug. 21 that they probably won't be coming back to town next summer.

It would be a shame if that threat proves true.

The city of Steamboat Springs has done well in recent years to encourage Triple Crown to change the mix of competitors it sends here. Families have in large part replaced adult male softball players as the major Triple Crown demographic found in Steamboat in the summer. That's good for two reasons: the families have a greater economic impact and less negative social impact (they don't get drunk and tear up the town).

The cutting horse enthusiasts fall into the same category as the Triple Crown baseball families: they are the kind of people we should encourage to come to Steamboat Springs. Put simply, they are polite and they spend money.

Chamber representatives should quickly pull together city officials, rodeo organizers and Winter Sports Club leaders to discuss how to accommodate the cutting horse enthusiasts.

Scheduling is one of the big impediments to the cutters continuing to come to Steamboat. A major conflict is the pro rodeo series. We are strong supporters of that series. It provides significant economic benefit and is an important connection to our western roots. We do not advocate sacrificing a weekend of rodeo to make room for the cutting horse association. But there is room, we believe, after the rodeo series ends for the summer. And the room we are considering would be one of honor for the cutting horse association.

The rodeo series always ends before Labor Day weekend. Steamboat Springs has been searching for signature events for Labor Day weekend ever since the vintage car and motorcycle races were squeezed out by the lack of an appropriate venue. Why not negotiate with the cutting horse organization to move the Steamboat Springs Derby Classic to Labor Day? Out from under the shadow of the rodeo series, the derby could stand on its own four feet as an attractive western spectator event. It could be one of the anchor events on the holiday weekend. With the rodeo series over, the cutters would have Romick Arena to themselves and Steamboat would have a prestigious western event to market to Labor Day tourists.

It's worth considering before the cutters cut us out.

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