- Friday, August 8, 2008, 7:30 p.m.
- Brent Romick Rodeo Arena, 501 Howelsen Parkway, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs Two weeks and four rodeos remain in the cowboy marathon that is the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series.
The long summer of work adds up, rodeo announcer and board president John Shipley said Thursday afternoon, preparing yet again to entertain the crowds at tonight's rodeo.
Sometimes, he said, the fire doesn't even dampen, 16 rodeos into the season.
"It can get to be a grind, going every Friday and Saturday night," he said. "Sometimes, at 4:30 in the afternoon, when I'm trying to build the program and juggle all the other things, I might wish I didn't have the commitment, but then you go out there and see all your buddies - the people rolling in - and energy of it all comes over you. You have a good performance and go 'Let's do it again!'"
He'll be doing it again tonight, starting at 7 p.m. at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs.
The ninth consecutive week of rodeo in Steamboat will feature "Shotgun" Rodney Gaston as the clown and special entertainer, live music, great food and all the things fans have come to associate with a night at the arena.
Shipley said ensuring fans always have something to cheer for isn't as easy as pulling on the boots or donning a wide-brimmed hat.
August usually represents a tipping point for cowboys and a dry spell for rodeos.
Cowboys have been going hard and traveling the nation all summer - in the case of the most dedicated, all year. The injuries begin to mount, and those who couldn't bring home big paydays early in the season come up with empty pockets and abandon their dreams.
Even more competitors are siphoned off in August to rope and ride at county fairs, competing close to home or trying to hit up two or three smaller rodeos each day.
"It's a big challenge this time of year," Shipley said.
But, this summer, Steamboat has been able to maintain an unusually full roster throughout the season. Shipley said the effort exerted in the offseason should continue to pay off in the rodeo's last two weeks in Steamboat.
The Steamboat rodeo joined the PRCA Heartland Series, which has helped keep the competitions full and tight.
By this point last year, bareback riding and saddle bronc riding events had been canceled for several of the rodeos. This summer, both have featured enough riders - at least five - every week.
"We'd still like to have more sometimes, but we're in a lot better shape this summer," Shipley said.
One man sure to show up for the weekend's rodeo is Gaston, who said he's thrilled to travel to Steamboat after going coast to coast and performing all summer long.
Gaston is packing along plenty to keep fans interested. He said he has a Brahma bull - the 1,800-pound "Doc Holliday" - that he has trained specially to run to the top of a semi-trailer. He also has a clown car loaded with secrets.
"Working in Steamboat is like being on vacation and working at the same time," Gaston said. "You get a lot of crowds of tourists that are new to rodeo. They're really fresh, so that makes performing a lot more fun."
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