GUNNISON, Colo. – Of the nearly 400 ProRodeo contestants who are scheduled to compete in Gunnison this year, a fourth of them have played on the sport’s grandest stage, the National Finals Rodeo.
“When I saw our list of entries, I was floored by the numbers we’re getting and the amount of the top cowboys in the game,” said Kevin Coblentz, president of the committee that produces the Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo, set for Thursday, Sept. 3-Saturday, Sept. 5, at Fred Field Western Center in Gunnison. “We’re going to have the cream of the crop here. It’s very exciting.”
The sheer number of cowboys and cowgirls is the most the town has seen in decades. It’s a tip of the cap to the volunteer committee that has gone above and beyond to help produce this 120th consecutive rodeo in a community well known for its agriculture roots.
Beyond that, though, there’s a golden flair that has been achieved in Gunnison. Of the cowboys and cowgirls on the list to compete in the mountain community, 25 of them are world champions; they represent 46 gold buckles.
“It’s impressive to me to see who we have coming,” Coblentz said. “If you wear a gold buckle in professional rodeo, you had to earn it. Now, those people are trying to win another one this year, and they’re including Gunnison on their schedules.”
The biggest name in the batch is reigning six-time world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey, who is well on his way to establish a new mark in bull riding world titles; he is chasing eight-time titlist Donnie Gay. But he’s not the only contestant in the game with multiple gold buckles.
Gunnison will also host Sherry Cervi, a four-time barrel racing champ; Tuf Cooper, a four-time winner with titles in tie-down roping and the all-around race; three-time bareback riding world champion Tim O’Connell; two-time team roping winners Patrick Smith, Chad Masters and Matt Sherwood; and four other two-time titlists, steer wrestler Hunter Cure, saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy, tie-down roper Caleb Smidt and barrel racer Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi.
“We not only have more contestants this year than we’ve ever had, but we’re going to have more world titlists here than ever,” Coblentz said. “That says quite a bit about what the contestants are looking for. We feature a good purse, and we are on a weekend that works well for them to make Cattlemen’s Days.
“When you can draw the who’s who of rodeo to town, it shows the work we’ve done as a community is paying off. We may have had to wait for this year’s rodeo, but I think it’s going to be well worth it.”