Top names in ProRodeo are expected to ride for Gunnison’s big money
GUNNISON, Colo. – The word is out about the Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo.
While many people knew about the gem of Colorado rodeos before, the 120th celebration helped set the record straight. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic kept fans away, the contestants showed up in record numbers. They were showcased in front of a national television audience on The Cowboy Channel, and that’s been enough to keep the numbers boosted again this year.
There are 422 cowboys and cowgirls who are planning to compete in Gunnison again this year; that’s an even bigger number than the community hosted last year, and it’s calling for some wild times and big scores at this year’s rodeo, set for Thursday, July 15-Saturday, July 17, at Fred Field Western Center.
Of those, there are 57 men and women who have played on ProRodeo’s biggest stage, the National Finals Rodeo. There are 13 world champions who are expected to compete in Gunnison, and they make up 26 Montana Silversmiths gold buckles.
The field is led by six-time world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey, who is again at the top of the world standings with more than $120,000 in earnings so far this season. He is one of several multi-time champions who are hoping to collect some of the big money available in this picturesque mountain community, including three-time bareback riding titlist Will Lowe, who has two decades’ worth of experience and 15 NFR qualifications to his credit.
“When you look at this list of contestants, it really is a who’s who of rodeo’s biggest stars,” said Kevin Coblentz, a longtime member of the Cattlemen’s Days volunteer committee. “We’ve got world champions in nearly every event that will be part of our rodeo. That’s very exciting to us as a committee, and I hope it’s exciting for our community.
“COVID caused all sorts of issues for us and many other rodeos last year, but where there are struggles, there are also good things. Because there were so many rodeos canceled, COVID opened the door for more contestants to come to Gunnison. It seems they liked what they saw, and we have even more cowboys coming back this year.”
When the contestants arrive, they will be greeted by a community that enjoys the annual celebration and is excited for its return to its traditional dates in mid-July. Each night will honor something special, and that’s proof of what Gunnison and the valley is all about. Opening night features the highly successful Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign, followed by Patriot Night on Friday and the Ranchland Conservation Legacy Night to close out the three performances of ProRodeo.
“We do these nights so we can honor three separate things and give focus to each of those,” said Brad Tutor, first vice president of the Cattlemen’s Days committee. “We are the No. 1 Tough Enough to Wear Pink rodeo in the United States based on what we’ve done in this community. We continue to work with the hospital and other providers in town, and we want to have the No. 1 rural breast cancer facility in the nation very soon.
“Our Patriot Night honors those that have served us in so many capacities. We have a lot of veterans in this community, and we also have a lot of very strong patriotic feelings among the people in this town, so we realized a few years ago that we had a strong desire to honor those. We finish the rodeo by honoring those with ranching backgrounds. This is traditionally a ranching community, and our heritage is very strong regarding ranching and ranchland.”
With a community that has such a rich legacy, nobody would expect less than something brilliant like the Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo.