Ute Trail Stampede Rodeo Returns to Woodland Park

Photo by CR Chambers

Event strives to rekindle town’s cowboy past

~ by Bob Volpe ~
This weekend (July 13-15), the Ute Trail Stampede Rodeo returns to Woodland Park.
The rodeo has been a highlight event for Woodland Park for 62 years, except for a 10-year span from 2006 to 2016, when the rodeo grounds were moved from what is now Woodland Station to the present location at 19250 East Highway 24.
The rodeo has also been one of the city’s most lucrative events for local business but has declined some in recent years. According to one of the event organizers, and owner of The Cowhand, Merry Jo Larsen, “There used to be six rodeos a year in town, back in the 80s. When that stopped, there has been nothing that has come to Woodland Park that replaced the income that it generated for the whole town.”
It is no mere coincidence that our town’s rodeo takes place on three of the same days as the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, in Colorado Springs.
Larsen explained, “We did that hoping to get more, and better cowboys to come, since they’re already here.” Larsen said that strategy has worked. She said, “It’s looking good. The entries have just opened, but we are, right away, getting some cowboys.”
Larsen would not drop any names of major rodeo stars that have entered the rodeo, but she did say, “We’ve had some NFR (National Finals Rodeo) cowboys from PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association).”
Photo by CR Chambers

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According to Larsen, one of the factors that set this rodeo apart from other larger events is the intimacy of the event here. “You get right down with the cowboys here. It’s friends and family, you’re there with the stock. You’re right in it! You’re part of the rodeo.”
The entire gamut of rodeo events will include  bull riding, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, calf roping, team roping, breakaway calf roping, and bull dogging.
Always a crowd favorite event is “mutton bustin,” in which young future cowboys and girls, get to take a shot at riding a wily, wooly, sheep.
Another event for the little ones, 12 years old and under, is stick bronc riding. These little athletes put those broomstick horses through their paces, and get a real kick out of it.
Top performing cowboys will be competing for glory and prize money.
The purse is not just the $400 per event put up by the Saddle Club. The prize gets bigger since entry fees are also added to the pot.
Bull riding kicks off the rodeo at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 13. On Saturday, the rodeo gets going with the full menu of events and starts at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Mutton bustin will take place before each of the adult events. Admission is $10 for adults, children 10 and
under are free, and there military are admitted for $5.
Larsen expressed much gratitude towards the businesses and people who
sponsor this event.
For more information call 719-687-9688 or visit www.utetrailstampederodeo.com.