Rodeo events draw crowds to fairgrounds

Not surprisingly, the rodeo events at the 30th Annual Chaffee County Fair and Rodeo draw the biggest crowds, especially the professional rodeo competition on Saturday night.

Kicking off the weekend is the fun-to-watch, hard-to-place team-sorting event at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 27. Team sorting involves two riders working together against the clock to select the correctly numbered cattle and drive them to the pen while keeping the rest of the cattle back. It’s a desirable skill for functioning ranches.

Children can participate in the rodeo events beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 28, with the first round of the ever-adorable Mutton Bustin.’ Riding sheep might seem like a piece of cake, but the sheep are deceptively quick and their riders are small. Children must weigh less than 40 pounds to compete. The sheep generally win, tossing their riders within seconds. Sometimes, to everyone’s confusion, the mutton don’t move at all – which can prove more of a challenge for the confused rider.

Mutton Bustin’ will continue with Round 2 at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 29, and finals will start at noon Sunday, July 30. So there are three opportunities to catch this entertaining event.

Steer riding, following the first round of Mutton Bustin’ at 6 p.m., is the first step toward having a full-blown rodeo star. Steers might be far less angry than full-grown bulls, but they do not like to be ridden. It can be a tough ride for the young competitors – and more nerve-wracking than entertaining.

Round 2 will start at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, July 29, and finals will start at 12:15 Sunday, July 30.

Bareback bronco riding is one of the most popular and shortest rodeo events sanctioned by the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association. It’s a tough event that few attempt (photo by Cailey McDermott).

The Colorado Professional Rodeo Association kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 29, featuring all the professional touring rodeo contestants.

CPRA events include bareback, barrel racing, breakaway, mixed team roping, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and, always last but never least, bull riding. Watching bull riding at night under the lights is one of the highlights of the rodeo year after year, and the energy of the crowd is electric.

Round 2 of the CPRA events will pick up again at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 30. All of the rodeo events are timed. Competitors race against the clock to win prize money. While bull riding is not a common skill for a ranch hand, the roping and steer wrestling skills would definitely come in handy. Cowboy boots, hats, sunscreen and water are key ingredients to a successful day at the rodeo. Plan accordingly and come enjoy some free Western culture.