New Events Added to Festive Lineup
~ by Trevor Phipps ~
Cowboy and rodeo season will arrive this weekend with the 63rd Ute Trail Stampede, which will occur at the Woodland Park rodeo grounds located near Walmart on the east side of town.
According to rodeo committee chairperson and the owner of the Cowhand, Merry Jo Larsen, the rodeo is a major part of the community’s heritage.
“Whether it was at dude ranches or the Woodland Park Saddle Club, rodeo has always been a huge part of Woodland Park’s history,” Larsen said. “Bringing this rodeo back is for our heritage as much as anything. We have a risk of losing it if we don’t hold on to it now. And people still come to Colorado to see cowboys and to see the west. The rodeo is a big part of that.”
The event is scheduled the weekend before the Fourth of July holiday as a way to kick off Independence Day celebrations. The rodeo weekend starts off when the gates open at 5 p.m. this Friday night with a jackpot bull riding event.
The events continue on Saturday and Sunday when the gates open at noon on both days. The mutton busting event for the kids starts at 1:30 p.m. with all of the other rodeo events commencing at 2 p.m.
The two-day competition is part of the schedule of the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association’s summer rodeo lineup. During their events, competitors from all across the state attend to earn points for the league’s championship competition.
According to Larsen, the rodeo this year has some new events to offer. On Saturday and Sunday between noon and 2 p.m. before the rodeo, there will be live entertainment as well as a new addition of food trucks and vendors.
Before the rodeo events take place, a performance from a top hand drill team will be added to the lineup this year. The Woodland Singers are also scheduled to perform as well as a presentation by the Buffalo Soldiers mounted cavalry team.
Larsen also stressed the importance of knowing the historical roots of the rodeo. She said that back in the day when cattle ranching first became a major way of survival in the west, many of the rodeo’s events included breaking a wild mustang and roping cattle and other skills. These were essential to feeding families in the wild west days.
Raising cattle as a food source took certain skills and it also took the efforts from men and women commonly known as cowboys and cowgirls. She said that rodeos began as a way for ranchers and cowboys to share their skills.
During early day rodeos, cowboys attending them would learn new techniques on how to better tame their horses and round up their cattle on the ranch. Since then the rodeo events became to be more of a sport and the animals and humans participating are now highly trained athletes.
Larsen said that the animals used in the rodeo are treated quite well and are bred and trained to participate in the rodeo events. The animals are given good treatment when they are not performing their short stints on the rodeo stage.
One factor often overlooked is that the animals are athletes themselves. They train their whole lives to be good in their specific events just like the human rodeo competitors. When a cowboy or cowgirl competes with livestock and wins an award in the rodeo, the animal also gets awarded and receives bragging rights.