Rodeo series provides thrills, spills and chills

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— Cowboy hats, boots and rodeo have been a part of the Steamboat Springs summer for the last 100 years.

It started with the first Cowboy Roundup days back in 1904, and has grown steadily over the years. Today, the Steamboat Springs Professional Rodeo Series is a perfect illustration of Steamboat's long-running western heritage.

"This rodeo is a weekly reminder of our own Western heritage," rodeo board member John Shipley said. "We want to let people know about our cowboy tradition, because no matter how many changes we have in this valley, or in this nation, that tradition never seems to change."

Every weekend, thousands of locals and visitors file through the gates hoping to get a taste of the cowboy lifestyle that runs through the fiber of this community.

For the price of admission, $12 for adults and $6 for children at the gate, people can get their fill of rodeo's main events.

The action on the arena floor is non-stop. Whether it's watching a cowboy get tossed around like a rag doll on a bull, bareback or saddle bronc, or watching the fast-moving action of tie down roping (formerly called calf roping), team roping, barrel racing or steer wrestling, the sport of rodeo offers plenty of thrills and spills.

The annual series will begin on June 20 and continue until Aug. 23. There are two rodeo performances each week, at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The gates open at 6 p.m. with a pre-event barbecue and music by Alpine Posse.

A special holiday performance will take place at 1:30 p.m. July 4. The series will end on Aug. 23 with the 13th annual Pat Mantle Memorial Saddle Bronc Riding.

Among the top attractions in this year's rodeo series will be Ted Kimzey (July 4-5) and John Harrison (Aug. 1-2, 8-9). Harrison, the grandson of late World Champion bull rider Freckles Brown, will entertain audiences with fast, colorful Roman riding and trick roping.

"We've worked really hard the last few years to raise the entertainment value and quality of our rodeo," Shipley said.

Last year, the rodeo series was named the best small outdoor rodeo of the year by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. It's the top honor a rodeo such as Steamboat can receive for its efforts.

"It's nice to be recognized by the industry," Shipley said. "We've always known that we have a good thing going and winning this award was quite an achievement."

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