Cowboy Downhill, Balloon Glow highlight Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Steamboat |

Cowboy Downhill, Balloon Glow, Sam Bush highlight Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Steamboat

Hot air balloons light up at the base of Steamboat Resort. This year’s Balloon Glow is from 5 to 6 p.m. Sunday in the base area. (Photo by Ben Ingersoll)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With 14,600 visitors expected in town for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Steamboat Springs has no shortage of things to do.

Some of the best rodeo cowboys from across the country will be in town for the 45th annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill, a tradition started by Steamboat Resort Director of Skiing Billy Kidd and World Champion cowboy Larry Mahan.

Before the cowboys arrive, the weekend kicks off with a Balloon Glow from 5 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the base of Steamboat Resort.

If you go

Sunday, Jan. 20
• 5 to 6 p.m. Balloon Glow

Monday, Jan. 21
• 11 a.m. 4-H petting zoo, Denver Broncos cheerleaders, roping clinic and more
• 1 p.m. Cowboy Downhill
• 2:30 p.m. Free Sam Bush concert

All events take place in Gondola Square at Steamboat Resort.

At dusk, spectators will have a chance to see six hot air balloons illuminate the base area and to talk to the pilots.

“The balloons don’t fly. They stand inflated on the ground and literally glow like huge, seven-story-tall, colorful light bulbs,” said balloon-meister and pilot Debby Standefer, who organized the event. “We get the crowd involved when the DJ counts down for ‘all burns,’ which is when all the pilots will light up the balloons at the same time.”

The pilots also will do “waves” and “twinkles” or “flickers” with the flames, Standefer said.

Then on Monday, Cowboy Downhill festivities will start at 11 a.m. in Gondola Square with a 4-H petting zoo, Denver Broncos cheerleaders, a roping clinic and more.

At 1 p.m., the racing action starts with the timed slalom event followed by the Stampede, when all the cowboys race down the hill at once.

“It’s so much fun and incredibly entertaining,” said Traci Allen, who manages marketing, sponsorships and events at Steamboat Resort. “A lot of them don’t even know how to ski. It’s fun, exciting and this is the only place where you will see anything like this.”

In its rawest form, the can’t-miss event is a debacle — a show of athleticism and grit from about 100 cowboys.

To wrap up the weekend festivities, bluegrass artist Sam Bush will play a free concert starting at 2:30 p.m. in Gondola Square.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1.

The 45th annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill gets started at 1 p.m. Monday at Steamboat Resort. (Photo by Tom Ross)

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User