Steamboat Springs It was four full days before the Steamboat Pro Rodeo was scheduled to start, but you can already hear the excitement in the voice of stock contractor Dona Vold Larsen.
"We just can't wait to get going," Vold Larsen said. "Opening night is opening night. It doesn't matter if it's the theater or rodeo."
When the chutes fly open on the 2001 professional rodeo season this Friday night in Steamboat Springs, there is no doubt that several local people will be smiling.
Joining Vold Larsen will be Brent Romick, rodeo board chairman, who was equally as excited to get going.
"It's going to be a great summer," Romick said Monday. "I just love the opening night of rodeo in Steamboat Springs."
This will be Romick's 21st opening night with the local rodeo series, but he admits that he still gets excited when the first chutes fly open.
"It's great because the bulls and broncs are always fresh for the first weekend," Romick said.
Romick said take these top bulls and mix them with some of the biggest crowds of the summer and a few of the best cowboys in the country, and it makes for a pretty good show at the base of Howelsen Hill.
"Opening weekend is normally pretty good to us," Romick said. "The Fourth is still a little bit bigger, but this is one of our bigger weekends."
The rodeo's 10-week season will open Friday night at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a performance on Saturday night at the same time.
Romick said he thinks the level of competition this year will remain extremely high for the first three weeks of the series, because the Fourth falls in the middle of the week.
Entries closed on Monday afternoon, and Romick said he expected several of the top 15 cowboys in the circuit to be on hand for the first weekend.
Vold Larsen said top bulls like Skoal's Panda and Hard Copy will also be on hand.
There will also be a few rank horses and Bar 1 Copenhagen Yellow Fever comes back along with 021 Copenhagen Casino.
There is little doubt that the Broken Arrow Rodeo Co. plans on treating fans to top bull, bare and saddle bronc riding once again this year.
"We've been coming to Steamboat for the last four years, and I can't think of a better place to rodeo," Vold Larsen said.
The rodeo will also feature team, calf and No. 7 roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing.
This year Romick said the rodeo board has worked hard to make sure fans are entertained by world-class specialty acts, clowns and bullfighters in between the bucking and roping action at the arena.
The opening weekend will feature the entertaining barrel man Scott Messina and bullfighters Eric Olson and Jess Griffin.
Clowns Bryan Hope, Duane Reichert, Timber Tuckness and Jeff Garner are also scheduled to appear during the course of the rodeo, along with Bullfighters Brad Knifong, Casey Smith, Matt Lucking, Scotty Brown, Rob Smets, Jerry Byrne, Shannon Rohr and Shane Duman. Specialty acts will include trick riders Binion Cervi and the Daredevil Darlings July 6 and 7 and the Cloverleaf 4-H Drill Team July 13 and 14. Then on July 27 and 28 and Aug. 3 and 4, world champion charro Jeffy Diaz will be on hand to thrill spectators.
"We are very excited about this weekend," Vold Larsen said. "We are definitely ready to rodeo.