The rodeo returns starting tonight with a ranch rodeo, and for a three-night stay for the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series from Saturday to Monday.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

The rodeo returns starting tonight with a ranch rodeo, and for a three-night stay for the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series from Saturday to Monday.

Steamboat weekend to be full of rodeo events

Ranch Rodeo precedes 3 days of professional series in Steamboat Springs

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If you go

What: Mountain Valley Bank Ranch Rodeo

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Brent Romick Rodeo Arena

Cost: Free

What: Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 6:30 p.m. Monday. Pre-rodeo barbecue starts at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 5 p.m. Monday. Live entertainment is from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Monday. Fireworks follow the Monday performance.

Where: Brent Romick Rodeo Arena

Cost: Adults are $15, children ages 7 to 15 are $8, and children 6 and younger are free. Adult series passes cost $40. Pre-sale tickets are available at Sheraton Steamboat Resort, The Steamboat Grand, Gondola General, the information kiosk in Gondola Square, F.M. Light & Sons, All That Jazz, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Steamboat Central Reservations. All tickets are general admission, except for VIP tickets.

Online: Visit www.steamboatprorodeo.com for more information.

— It’s a weekend of rodeo so special that longtime local rodeo bigwig John Shipley has trouble thinking about it without getting choked up.

The action starts at 7 p.m. Friday with the Mountain Valley Bank Ranch Rodeo, the most authentic of local events, then kicks into high gear for the rest of the weekend as the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series plays to holiday crowds at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

“There’s just something about it,” said Shipley, the rodeo’s announcer. “There’s no more perfect day for rodeo, an American born and bred sport, and the cowboys who settled the West representing that independence.”

There should be plenty going on at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena to keep even veteran fans excited.

Organizers said there should be good fields in all the bucking stock events for the pro rodeo shows, and Keith Isley will entertain as the weekend’s clown.

Isley scooped up the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown the Year and Comedy Act of the Year for the second consecutive year in 2010 .

“He’s a first-rate partner,” said Shipley, who’s shared more than a few arenas with the acclaimed clown. “He’s worked the biggest rodeos in the world, and we’re delighted to have him.”

Friday’s riding will offer a big difference, and a free ticket. Ranch rodeos challenge teams of four to complete a series of tasks. Teams have to rope and brand a calf in chalk, rope a steer, direct another steer into a pen and milk a cow, all in five minutes.

The team with the fastest time wins.

“These are guys who handle and work with cattle all year round,” event organizer Dean Vogelaar said. “It’s a tradition that goes way back for many years. The Cowboys’ Roundup Days really started more than 100 years ago.”

The Roundup Days, or at least the idea behind it, eventually evolved into the pro rodeo series, but the ranch rodeo challenges contestants in events — milking, say, instead of bull riding — far more likely to take place on an actual ranch. The field of 20 teams is expected to be filled by working cowboys from across Northwest Colorado.

“They take a lot of pride in it,” Vogelaar said. “They take pride in the ability of the horses they ride that work on these ranches, in how they work and in their ability to handle the livestock in a manner that’s safe.”

It’s just another part of a weekend of roping and riding in Steamboat, a weekend that, according to some, can get no better.

“It’s the birthday of America, the spirit of the West and the idea of independence all wrapped up in boots, chaps and cowboy hats,” Shipley said.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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