Rodeo up for award

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For the second time in three years, the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series is in the running for Best Small Rodeo of the Year Award from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

"We are just delighted to be nominated," said John Shipley, Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Board president. "I think right now everyone on the board is being a little cautious and trying to protect their feelings -- there is no way that lightning can strike twice."

Steamboat was named the Best Small Rodeo of the Year in 2002. Shipley said that year he was thrilled just to be nominated. He admits winning came as a surprise.

"We figured that award was not about one rodeo, or even a summer of rodeos," Shipley said. "We looked at that award as a lifetime achievement award. It recognized all the work the rodeo had done since it first started."

So when Steamboat was nominated again this year, the board members again were surprised and flattered to be among the top small rodeos in the country.

This time, Steamboat will go up against rodeos in Estes Park; Burwell, Neb.; Davie, Fla.; and Weatherford, Texas.

"I think this rodeo is special because of the town, the scenic beauty and the crowds we draw," Shipley said. "There is an energy here that every rodeo cowboy wants to compete in front of."

This year's winner will be announced Dec. 2 at the annual contractor's award banquet.

Steamboat won the honor in 2002, and Estes Park collected the honor in 2003. The finalists for this year's best rodeo award were selected from 450 rodeos across the country that fall into the small rodeo class.

All of those rodeos pay out less than $3,000 per event. Some, such as Steamboat, are part of a series, and others may be a single performance. Rodeos in the medium category ($3,000 to $9,999 payouts) and large indoor and outdoor (more than $10,000 per event) also will be honored.

The top athletes in each event, stock contractors, contract personnel and the 650 rodeo committees that hold rodeos across the United States will vote for their favorites among the finalists.

The winner will be announced at an awards banquet, which is held each year before the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The national finals are scheduled to run from Dec. 3 to 12.

Bill Montag, manager of Soda Creek Western Mercantile and a longtime supporter of Steamboat's rodeo, said Bill Larsen and Dona Vold Larsen of the Broken Arrow Rodeo Company, the rodeo board and the city of Steamboat Springs should take credit for the honor.

The board's 11 members include chairman Brent Romick, president Shipley, treasurer Ward Van Scoyk, administrator Char Mighton, Brett Brooks, John Centner, Steve Dawes, John Kerst, Rod Lewin, Charlie Mayfield and Jeff Nelson.

--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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