Nancie McCormish: Rope or noose?
Regarding the commentary puckishly headlined “roping in” more parking, in that spirit I’d like to remind folks the rodeo grounds is so named because by long tradition that’s where the rodeos are held. It’s not an answer for the busiest city parking demands in summer — the weekends.
From the Open Range days to now, folks come early and leave late, filling the grounds with big rigs, bulls, horses, hay, gear, dawgs, folding chairs, busted stuff and friends, foes and families here for the rodeo and some summer breezing. Howelsen Hill’s trails attract haul-in horseback riders with associated impromptu private rodeos, too.
Action isn’t confined to the arena, either. The Pilot reported its first planned rodeo here in 1898 though it surely was a launching and landing pad long before. There’s many a story dancing in that dirt … from faces ground into those grounds.
Driving in and parking a large herd of stray cars would create a textbook dog and pony show. Tangles of traffic on rodeo nights already inspire “western style” exits as drivers haul asses (etc.) into the night and in a hurry.
Proof of studying both physics and animal science may be in order before letting folks park here. As a rule, owners of the smallest and most expensive car brands feel a magnetic attraction to parking too close to animals and trailers while (being well-trained citizens), neatly sardining their rigs before locking up and heading out for the day and dinner, never suspecting the potential for a free Steamboat souvenir hoofprint tattoo.
Many are allergic to all sorts of animals and animal byproducts. As a species, the existence of road apples comes as a shock, yet they predictably leave a glimmering trail of trash — probably to find their cars later?
Full paving would have to support literally tons of bull and rodeo stock, in the hottest summer months, on a flood plain. Paving holds heat, speeds runoff and starves the soil underneath. We well know how winter amuses itself by heaving and hurling pavement, starting a costly cycle of twisted ankles, car eating potholes and perpetual repairs.
Hooved mammals find asphalt suspicious and slippery, wisely despise anything resembling a hole, and from private unpublished research, I can attest dirt is preferable to asphalt (or little cars) if a grudge-holding horse finds an opportunity for a double-leg takedown.
Phasing out rodeo and rider access to preferred “valet” parking for town workers or visitors discredits both our past and present traditions. A hot parking lot full of almost identical cars can be found anyplace; a full-on high quality live rodeo experience right in town cannot.
We can’t park big rigs downtown if the lot is full (though the courthouse lawn has some perks), and the bike racks sprouting everywhere aren’t compatible hitching posts for horses.
Events and improvements are ongoing at the Romick Arena. Meanwhile, back in the city, the cash river flows in large measure from our rodeo roots.
Our beloved rodeo announcer John Shipley reminds (with apologies to the Utes) “Steamboat was a ranching town before it was anything else …r odeo is important to our community because it reminds us of our heritage … [and] helps keep our noses on our faces and not up in the air, and our boots planted firmly on the ground.”
Another Western tradition is to “dance with them that brung ya.” If rodeo folks can’t park their rigs without crunching cars, dogs and bicycles, they will carry on somewhere else.
The proposed parking problem “rope” would hang our history and ourselves. Try another loop.
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