Rodeo set for big digital leap

Joel Reichenberger
Tyler Ferguson
Joel Reichenberger

— Brent Romick and John Shipley readily admit they don’t exactly get it.

Two of the main men behind the Steamboat Spring Pro Rodeo series are among the last two anyone might turn to for advice on social media.

“I have a flip phone,” Shipley admitted Wednesday morning, taking a break while preparing for another summer of rodeo in Steamboat Springs.

“I do have a smart phone,” Romick said, “but it’s still smarter than me.”

They may not personally use services like Facebook, but they see the value, at least when it comes to the rodeo series, which gallops back in to town at 7:30 p.m. Friday for the first of 20 performances that will span the summer.

The world long ago gave itself over to social media and the Internet, and the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series is intent on following that lead.

“We needed to make that change,” Romick said. “It was time for us to make it easier for people to buy tickets, to know what’s going on with the rodeo.”

The rodeo will run every Friday and Saturday night through Aug. 22, 10 weeks that will bring plenty of roping and riding — along with wrestling, chasing and hanging on — to Romick Rodeo Arena at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Most performances, including both of this weekend’s, will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Reaching out

For Romick, Shipley and the rest of the rodeo board, attendance — growing it and keeping it — is always a concern.

The rodeo took a hit last summer when it raised ticket prices from $15 for an adult to $20. Now, the board is looking online not just to make up those numbers, but to grow beyond levels the event has seen in recent years.

“We recognize social media is here to stay, and we need to get into the game,” Shipley said.

The goal is to grow attendance by 10 percent over the next decade.

The rodeo has had an active Facebook page for at least three years, and in that time, it’s gone from posting several times a summer to posting on a regular basis.

This summer, the plan is to do even more to reach out to fans, on Facebook, on Twitter, and from the series’ redesigned web page at

There, users can buy tickets at a discount, $18 for an adult.

Shipley and Romick turned to new and younger — i.e. more tech savvy — board members Mark Gossman and Jake Booco to lead the way.

They are also hoping a strong web presence can help lure more competitors to Steamboat.

“I’ve been inviting people to the page and trying to keep it updated for the contestants,” said Booco, who, in addition to his duties on the board, still competes around the region in bull riding competitions.

He hopes to connect his network of friends, many of them fellow rodeo competitors, with the Steamboat rodeo. 
There are other ways cowboys find out about and apply to various competitions, he said, but a well-run, interactive Facebook page can make a difference.

“I’m letting them know when the deadlines are and encouraging people to sign up,” he said. “Sometimes, they don’t think about it, and they have an open day and can make it.”

Better than smoke signals

The verdict on these efforts certainly has not yet been reached, but Romick said he expects the season to get off to its strongest start in years.

He said the first week’s contest list is packed, with a dozen bareback riders and more than 20 bulls set to leave the chutes.

The Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo was named the Rocky Mountain Circuit’s best small rodeo of 2014, so there’s been plenty going right at the event for a long time. Organizers are hoping a little outreach can make it even better.

“We weren’t having great results using a fire and Indian blanket to send out messages,” Romick said with a laugh. “This year we are taking a big leap forward.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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