Fourth of July rodeo in Steamboat is a Cowboy’s Christmas
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Nothing fits more perfectly than America’s sport on America’s birthday.
“It’s mom, apple pie and rodeo, so the cowboys call it ‘Cowboy Christmas,'” said John Shipley, Steamboat Pro Rodeo Series announcer and rodeo board president. “They will have the opportunity to go to three rodeos a day for maybe a week. Everybody addresses it differently.”
Steamboat Springs is hosting its 115th annual Cowboys’ Roundup Days, which welcomes tourists to its western culture, including the rodeo.
Rodeo is considered “America’s sport” because of its practical roots, evolving from post-Civil War cattle drives. Almost all of the rodeo events are also common practice on a ranch, like team roping and bronc riding.
Roping cattle is an everyday ranch chore, while bronc riding is used to train new horses for herding cattle. It’s a practice that only the most elite cowboys are trusted to do.
While Steamboat hosts a pro rodeo series every Friday and Saturday night, the week of Cowboy Christmas presents a unique opportunity for cowboys traveling across the west to make more money on more competitions.
What: Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series
When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 11; 7:30 p.m. July 3 and 6:30 p.m. July 4
Where: Brent Romick Rodeo Arena, 401 Howelsen Parkway
For rough stock riders, this means entering multiple competitions and waiting until the last minute to pick which to attend. Rough stock riders enter a drawing at each rodeo, which tells them what kind of animal they will ride. The rider will choose their rodeo based on which animal he or she can best handle and score the most points.
Sometimes, cowboys will qualify for final rounds at larger rodeos, which means they will forego another competition they were previously entered for, or if they don’t qualify, they’ll catch another rodeo nearby.
This presents a unique situation for rodeo hosts, because the number of competitors may be double or triple the amount of a normal rodeo.
“Busiest time of the year, but you hold your breath, because you never know who is going to make it here off the entry list,” Shipley said.
Since the rodeo wants a balance of entertainment and competition to keep fans engaged, it will host what’s called a slack competition.
Like an extra long rope, slack provides extra competition beyond what’s scheduled, before or after the actual rodeo. In places like Greeley and Cheyenne, Wyoming, slack competitions can start up to four or five days prior to the main event.
“Between slack and evening performances and all that drives, guys can get to a bunch of rodeos.” Shipley said.
In Steamboat, slack competitions will take place after the rodeo on July 3 and 4.
“So there’s the public performance, then slack that night,” Shipley said. “People may see the winning run in the slack competition.”
Steamboat presents a unique feat of traditionally holding rodeo on Independence Day, while others plan around the week. Steamboat will also still have its normal weekly summer pro series before and after the two-day holiday competition on July 3 and 4.
“That’s six performances in nine days,” Shipley said. “Anyone with a wide-brimmed hat and high-heeled boots walking around, chances are there’s some kind of competition going on.”
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