EAGLE, Colo. – There’s so much beauty that surrounds this town of just 6,700, the Eagle County’s seat and home of the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.
That just adds to the flavor of this Rocky Mountain community and the reason hundreds of thousands of visitors make their way to the picturesque location. It’s also an attractive piece of the puzzle for the talented team from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.
“There’s no other rodeo setting like Eagle, tucked among the mountains with the Eagle River right behind it,” said Clay Heger, a bullfighter who has been in the middle of the action for several years at the rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25-Saturday, July 28, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
“That time of year makes everyone and every animal feel great waking up on a cool 60 or 70 degrees in the middle of the summer is amazing.”
Heger is just one of a couple dozen Carr staff that will make the trip from the firm’s east Texas ranch. The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo has been a big stop for the team for the last decade.
“We’ve been on the rodeo trail all year, and we’ve been to some beautiful places,” said John Gwatney, the livestock superintendent for Pete Carr Pro Rodeo. “We just got done with Big Spring (Texas) and Pecos (Texas), which are two fantastic rodeos, but there’s a lot of heat.
“To go from there to the beautiful setting of the mountains and a crowd that is so captive and responsive is amazing and makes Eagle a wonderful rodeo.”
How wonderful? All four performances are typically sold out, and the crowd of several thousand fans is usually loud and boisterous, making for a great experience for all involved.
In fact, the members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association think so much of the Eagle event that they nominated it for Medium Rodeo of the Year in 2017. It was the first time it has received an honor – with the nomination, Eagle was recognized as one of the top 20 rodeos in North America, and the PRCA has more than 650 annually.
“We have a lot of great history in Eagle,” said Pete Carr, president and CEO of the livestock firm, which has five straight nominations for PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year. “The horses and bulls love it up there, and the mountain climate adds to that. There are usually a lot of high scores and great rides in Eagle because of that.”
In fact, Carr bucking horse Grass Dancer was part of a world record-tying 94-point ride when she matched moves with bareback rider Ryan Gray in 2009. There have been numerous other high-scoring rides inside the arena that sits just beneath the mountains.
“I think one of the keys to making the rides so memorable is the crowd,” Gwatney said. “The energy of the crowd electrifies the whole place. The night that record ride was made, there was lightning in the background, and the crowd was just as into it as if there wasn’t weather around us. That’s the electricity that place brings.”
And that atmosphere is why the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo is one of the best in the game.