A majority of the seats at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena last Friday were filled before the first notes of the national anthem rang out or the first bull made its entrance.
Rodeo Director Brent Romick said the arena was nearly filled to capacity before 7 p.m.
Long lines, and the news that they would have to stand during the performance, greeted the late arrivals. The only good news for those spectators was that the standing room-only tickets were cheaper.
"Friday night was absolutely awesome," Romick said. "If we didn't set a single performance attendance record, we were very, very close."
Rodeo secretary Char Mighton said 3,714 people attended the Fourth of July rodeo, which she thinks is a record number of people for a single performance at the Steamboat Pro Rodeo Series.
Romick said he also thought the attendance was a record, and thinks it just nipped last year's Professional Bull Riding Association event, which attracted 3,300 spectators for a bull-riding event over Labor Day.
Romick said he expected last weekend's rodeos to be busy but after having just 651 spectators show up for Friday afternoon's event, he wasn't sure how things were going to go.
"Last weekend was kind of an emotional roller coaster," Romick said. "The daytime rodeo was pretty slow. I guess it was just too hot and there were too many other things going on in town."
But Romick remained confident that things would turn around that night -- and they did.
"We had people standing up behind the concrete bleachers," Romick said. "I don't know if we could have gotten any more people in there."
After the final rodeo Saturday night, 6,043 people passed through the door during the weekend.
That number was in line with the past several holiday weekends but short of setting a record for attendance during a holiday run.
In 2000, the rodeo series hosted four night performances in a row and drew more than 7,000 people.
However, Mighton said it was hard to compare Fourth of July holidays because the totals are greatly influenced by the day the holiday falls on and how many rodeos are held over the traditional holiday week.
Either way, the rodeo organizers are preparing for another big weekend.
Traditionally, Rainbow Weekend has been the second busiest for the rodeo series. Romick expects attendance numbers to remain strong for the rest of the summer.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org