Hoping for payday

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— On Wednesday afternoon Bryan Costner was in a hurry to get out of the door of his house, hop into the driver's seat of his pickup truck and get on the road.

The saddle bronc rider was rushing to make it to his next rodeo appearance a little more than three hours down the road in Aspen at the Wednesday night edition of the Snowmass Village Rodeo.

The local cowboy planned on jumping back in his truck and returning to Steamboat in plenty of time to rest up for this weekend's local rodeo series as well.

"I plan to go like this all summer," said Costner, a recent graduate of Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyo.

It's a hectic lifestyle that most saddle bronc riders and for that matter most rodeo cowboys understand all too well. The fact is to make money cowboys have to be on the road as much as possible.

Starting next week, those cowboys will not have any chance to rest as they face an even more exhausting schedule. It's the busiest part of the rodeo season for cowboys who want to make it to the finals in what is commonly known as Cowboy's Christmas.

"I'm going to be very busy over the Fourth," Costner said. "The Fourth of July has always been a big deal. That will never change."

Costner said he would be competing in one or two rodeo performances each day from July 2 through July 15.

It's a run he is hoping will boost him in the National Circuit Finals at the end of the season. It is also a chance for Costner and cowboys like him to pay some bills and pocket some loose change.

It will also be an important run for the organizers of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, who will offer a four-performance event beginning July Fourth and running through July 8.

Brent Romick, rodeo board chairman, said he expects the next nine days to be big ones for the local series, which is already off to a strong start in 2001.

The series opened last weekend with two performances that drew a little less than 3,000 spectators through the gates. Romick is hoping for a similar showing this weekend before the start of the key holiday period.

"Many people think having the Fourth of July fall on a Wednesday is difficult," Romick said. "But I think the middle-of-the-week holiday will be good."

Romick said the biggest rodeo in the state of Colorado, the Greeley Independence Stampede, will kick things off today with the first of several Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events. The Stampede will end on July Fourth, sending many of the top 15 cowboys in the world out on the road in search of other events.

Romick said he thinks there will be plenty of cowboys stopping in Steamboat as they cruise around the region in search of an easy payday.

Steamboat's event will kick off Wednesday with the first holiday rodeo performance at 7 p.m. There will also be performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All of the events will be at the Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Last year, the holiday rodeos paid out $58,000 in prizes. Romick said he thinks this year's event will surpass $62,000 in total purse money.

"This is the rodeo we wait for all year."

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