Rodeo roping in crowds

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It's been a busy three weeks for the Steamboat Springs Professional Rodeo Series, and if Brent Romick has his way, things won't slow down until the end of August.

"From our perspective, the first two weeks were four of the best rodeos we've ever produced," Romick said Tuesday.

As chairman of the board that oversees the Pro Rodeo Series, Romick should know. The series was named the best small outdoor rodeo in the country at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 2002. After changing things up a bit in 2005, the series earned accolades from the Mountain States Circuit as the most improved rodeo.

This year, the series opened with record crowds and already has drawn 1,000 more spectators than it had at this point last year. But rodeo series secretary Char Mighton said the comparison of the two seasons ends there.

Last year, July 4 fell on a Monday, allowing the series to host a three-performance rodeo that boosted numbers. This year, July 4 was a Tuesday, forcing the series to cut the extra performance and shift one of its 10 rodeos in the series to the middle of the week.

The move means the series will host 20 performances in nine weeks instead of the more appealing 21 performances in 10 weeks.

"It's hard to compare the two seasons," Mighton said. "We've had several record-setting performances this season, but overall our numbers are down slightly."

After four rodeos, the attendance total is 12,124, compared to 12,463 in 2005. However, Mighton points out the rodeo drew 2,400 the opening week and followed it up with 2,440 at the second rodeo. The series also enjoyed good numbers during the Fourth of July holiday, when 1,400 people turned out for a Monday evening performance and 3,470 people attended the July 4 holiday performance.

"The first three weeks have been very good for us," Romick said. "I think we are on pace for what we want to accomplish this season."

At the top of Romick's list is collecting another "Best Small Outdoor Rodeo of the Year" award from the PRCA at the National Finals Rodeo in December.

"It's a tough award to win," Romick said. "There are more than 700 rodeos in that class across the country. But I don't believe there is anyone in the country doing it better than us right now."

Rodeo fans can expect a different feel this week as the Steamboat rodeo switches stock contractors. Carr Pro Rodeo, of Dallas, Texas, will take over for Mac Altizer and Bad Company Rodeo. Carr will share the duties with Stace Smith for the next three weeks.

Romick said several specialty acts also are planned for the coming weeks.

Roman rider, trick rider and trick roper John Harrison will be featured in this weekend's performances.

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

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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