WP City Council OK’s Rodeo Camping Request – Bob Volpe

WP City Council OK’s Rodeo Camping Request

In a unanimous vote Woodland Park City Council approved a request by Merry Jo Larsen and the Ute Pass Saddle Club to allow for temporary camping during this year’s Ute Trail Stampede Rodeo, which will take place from July 25 – Aug 1st.

The Temporary Use Permit will allow for 80 camping slots just north of the rodeo arena wedged between Fountain Creek and Hyway 24.

Restrictions on camping for the event do apply. Camping shall be limited to 12:00 pm July 25th through 3:00 pm Aug 1st. Camping whall be permitted at the Ute Pass Saddle Club Arena only in those areas designated “Camping Area”.

All camping units must be self-contained and may include camper trailers, horse trailers, RV’s, and pickup truck campers. There will be no hookups to City water or sewer.

The Ute Trail Stampede Rodeo has been a fixture of Woodland Park since 1947, making this the 60th Anniversary of the event.

Back in the day, as they say, the rodeo was a major attraction in Woodland Park, drawing people from all over the front range.

Rodeo in Woodland Park has a long and colorful history that ultimately resulted in the founding of the current Ute Pass Saddle Club. Following is some of the history of the Ute Pass Saddle Club, from their website.

The very first rodeo here was put on in 1916 by the newly formed Woodland Park Rodeo Association. The rodeos were held in a field north of where the City Hall now stands.

As the town grew, and property values went up the land was sold off. Unfettered by the loss of their rodeo grounds, organizers organized unorganized rodeos on land east of Woodland Park.

With the continued popularity of the events, some business owners in Woodland Park decided to advertise Woodland Park in the Colorado Springs Rodeo Parade. They built a log cabin on a flat bed truck, surrounded by pine trees and pretty girls. The sign on the float read, “Come to Woodland Park. Air Conditioned by Nature:” This in turn led to the creation of the Ute Pass Saddle Club.

After impromptu rodeos staged in a field on Paint Pony Ranch, with an arena formed by a circle of cars, Saddle Club members looked for a permanent location for rodeos.

Bert Bergstrom, Sr., AKA “Big Bert” was virtually the patriarch of Woodland Park in the early days. After watching a Paint Pony rodeo in 1947, he commented, “The dust was two feet deep, and there weren’t any fences. That, I knew, was enough to prevent its success:” Bert, therefore, asked Tom Kelly, the Saddle Club president at the time, if the five acres that the arena is today was big enough for rodeo grounds. When Tom replied that it surely was, Bert went to work. He spoke to Ira James, a Woodland Park drugstore owner, who owned the land, and asked how much he wanted for it. Bert laughingly remembered James as a “foxy devil;” who asked $7,000. Bert gave him $1,000 cash on the spot, and they drew up the papers the next day.

The first rodeo at the new location had its problems. It rained for five days before the event, and the first cowboy to hit the ground slid half way down the arena. Everyone involved became covered with mud. There were fifty contestants then, compared with about 250 and $12,000 in prize money in 1989.

There was always an event for the youngsters at the rodeos. They rode calves, and everyone who tried, whether he stayed on or not, received a silver dollar.

This year 150 to 200 participants are expected to compete in the event. As they did in those early days of Woodland Park Rodeo, there will be events for the young ones. Mutton Busting is popular with old and young and will continue to delight those who attend the event this year.

See y’all at the rodeo.