The Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series is a summer event, but putting the award-winning series together is a year-round affair for this dedicated group of rodeo-loving volunteers.
"We spend an awful lot of time developing strategies and acts for the rodeo season," said John Centner, a member of the rodeo series' Board of Directors. "The series ends in August and by September we're meeting again to plan for the next year. It's a tremendous amount of effort."
The Board of Directors is responsible for everything from setting ticket prices to hiring performers and lining up sponsors. And it's commonplace to see board members in the midst of the rodeo action, be it manning the gates at Steamboat's Romick Rodeo Arena or announcing the popular weekend series.
"We're a working board," board president John Shipley said. "Most any weekend three of the board members will be working the chutes."
Anyone who might question the dedication of the board members to the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series needs to look no further than Centner's hands. The tip of one of his fingers was pinched off a couple of years ago as he worked a chute, but the managing partner of Steamboat Motors was back in the arena before the rodeo ended for the night.
"I love rodeo," Centner said. "Being surrounded by a board as active as this board makes it rewarding and makes it fun. It's awesome."
Having fun is one thing, but putting on a top-notch rodeo series is another. The rodeo board does both, evidenced by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association naming the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series the "Best Small Outdoor Rodeo of the Year" two years ago.
The board had done anything but be content with the series' success.
"There's always room for improvement," said Shipley, president of property management company Johnston Shipley Management Inc. "I don't think we'll ever be accused of resting on our laurels."
This summer the rodeo board has focused on increasing the number of specialty acts to perform during the 10-week series.
"When you're dealing with a series, many of our patrons come back week after week and are looking for new performances and specialty acts," Centner said. "You're only as good as your last rodeo."
And your rodeo is often only as good as those working behind the scenes. Joining Shipley and Centner on the rodeo board are longtime rodeo board chairman Brent Romick, attorney Ward Van Scoyk, truck driver Rod Lewin, First National Bank president John Kerst, lodging industry consultant Steve Dawes, ski industry executive Charlie Mayfield, city rodeo grounds manager Jeff Nelson and rodeo administrator Char Mighton. Rodeo veteran Brett Brooks serves as a board contributor, particularly as it relates to cowboys' perspectives.
Van Scoyk serves as the series treasurer; Lewin as the arena director and Kerst, Mayfield, Dawes and Centner as its sponsorship committee.