Ranch Rodeo brings a Western tradition

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On Sunday, thousands of people are expected to pack Brent Romick Rodeo Arena to watch cowboys rope, ride and ... milk.

And while the sight of several cowboys trying to milk a cow surely will bring a few laughs, veteran Ranch Rodeo competitor Bill Montag said it's what keeps the fans coming back each year.

"These are real cowboys, doing many of the same things they do on the ranch," Montag said.

Montag said he started the Ranch Rodeo three years ago to create an event that would appeal to residents.

The first year, the rodeo drew modest crowds, and last year, attendance jumped to nearly 2,000 people.

"I'm expecting a pretty big crown because it's right smack in the middle of the weekend," competitor Lee Meyring said. "I think people like this because it has an unpredictable nature to it. You never know when somebody is going to get drug around the arena."

Montag also thinks the Ranch Rodeo is positioned for success this year because it is tucked neatly between professional rodeo performances Friday, Saturday and Monday.

But Montag said this rodeo is different from the professional version that headlines most Friday and Saturday nights in Steamboat Springs.

Forget the traditional bull riding, roping and steer wrestling events.

The Ranch Rodeo features teams of four cowboys, each racing against the clock in penning, branding, doctoring and the fan favorite, wild-cow milking.

The teams must complete all four tasks within 10 minutes, making for a frantic, circus-like atmosphere on the arena floor.

"I think we will have to break up if we hope to get into the money," Meyring said. "The key to winning a rodeo like this is teamwork."

Montag and Dean Vogelaar worked together to organize this year's Mountain Valley Bank Ranch Rodeo.

"I like this event because it depicts some of the actual things that happen on a working ranch," Vogelaar said. "This rodeo is a forerunner of what the professional rodeo series is today."

This year's Ranch Rodeo is slated to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday at the rodeo grounds. There will be 20 teams competing in the contest, and, if everything runs smoothly, Vogelaar said the competition should tie in nicely with the Brenn Hill concert, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

The rodeo and the concert are free.

Rodeo teams come from Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Kremmling, Walden and En----campment, Wyo.

Meyring said that though the events are fun, there is a competitive side that them events interesting. Most of the teams in this year's Ranch Rodeo compete in a number of events during the summer. They all know each other, and almost all of them are out to win.

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

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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