Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
Steamboat Springs Brent Romick was busy Saturday evening, as he is every weekend night during a Steamboat Springs summer.
Chairman of the Steamboat Spring Pro Rodeo Series, Romick regularly rides in the rodeo's introduction stages to represent the 14-member rodeo board and rodeo volunteers. He rode twice Friday, competing in the No. 11 team roping competition, and then he took the stage twice Saturday, working as a header on a regular team roping squad.
But he wasn't too busy Saturday to remember Warren Siegal. Romick's close personal friend and a longtime Steamboat Springs cowboy, Siegal passed away from a heart attack in 2001.
Crowds at the weekend's two rodeo performances were introduced to Siegal thanks to the Warren Siegal Memorial Bareback riding competition, a contest that put $500 and a $500 Ralph Maynard belt buckle on the line in addition to the regular prize money - typically about $600 - awarded to the event's winner.
Three cowboys rode Saturday to claim Siegal's contest, but really, none had a chance. Wes Kleven of Laramie, Wyo., came the closest, recording a 76-point ride on Juiced Up while Larry Carter of Norwood went last, losing his hat in a bumpy ride and finishing with 73 points.
No, the Siegal award was wrapped up good and tight Friday night when Monte Vawter withstood Beer Stand for the needed eight seconds. The Peyton cowboy finished with a score of 83, one of the best scores recorded so far in this summer's rodeo and easily enough to beat second-place Cole McCall's 80.
Romick said Siegal was one of a kind. He was ever-present at Steamboat's rodeo arena and met his wife, Lexie, at one of Steamboat's Fourth of July Cowboys' Roundup Days rodeos. He eventually moved on from Steamboat to become a successful attorney in Arizona, though he never forgot his Yampa Valley ties.
Siegal died seven years ago, the night before Cowboys' Roundup Days kicked off again. Several days later, his memorial services took place in the rodeo arena he loved.
"He used to love to ride out of the first chute over in the corner," Romick said. "I know there's a piece of him still here in this arena tonight. I know there's a piece of him over in that chute. He's where he's supposed to be."
In Vawter, the young Colorado cowboy who won this year's Roundup Days bareback riding competition, Romick says there is plenty of what made Siegal stand out.
"He's young, he's athletic and he's a good cowboy," Romick said of Vawter. "Warren was a great bareback rider, and Monte, you can tell, he's meant to be a bareback rider, too. That's a great score, and you love to see something over 80 for Warren.
"It was great that Monte won it because he really exemplifies what it takes to be a bareback rider. If Warren could have met all these cowboys and picked who won his competition, I bet he would have picked Monte."