GUNNISON, Colo. – Rodeo’s roots dates back to more than a century ago when ranchers and cowboys found their way to competition to see which outfit had the best hands.
It was for bragging rights to begin with, but rodeo has evolved. At the Cattlemen’s Days PRCA rodeo, for example, contestants can walk away with thousands of dollars in their pocket based on how well they performed.
Cattlemen’s Days is a celebration of Gunnison County’s ranching and agriculture roots, and there are a host of events that honor that, including the Ranch Rodeo, set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 11, with a ranch bronc riding expected to start around 5 p.m.; the Ranch Arena Team Sort is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 12.
“Those are important events for this community,” said Brad Tutor, first vice president of the Cattlemen’s Days committee. “It gives people that are not PRCA cowboys a chance to show off what they can do. It’s special to them. A lot of our local kids, guys and girls come out to be part of that rodeo.
“All these events are important for the committee. We have an elite group of people who are volunteering their time, and people come from all over to help put on this event. From the rodeo to the parade to the things going on with our Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign, they care deeply, and that’s what makes it special for us. Most of them grew up here, and they understand what it means to have Cattlemen’s Days.”
The Ranch Rodeo will feature teams of five riders competing in sorting, penning, trailer-loading and stray gather. Just as the ranches did so many decades ago, this will be a place to see which outfit has he most talented cowboys and cowgirls in the area. There are prizes and an incentive pot for local teams, which would include a minimum of three residents within the Gunnison watershed.
The Ranch Arena Team Sort will include teams of four riders trying to sort five head of cattle in a 90-second time limit. The sorts are timed events and will also have a 16-under class competition on that Monday evening.
“The main thing about being raised on a ranch in Gunnison is the cowboy part,” said Ramon Ray, president of the Gunnison Roping Club and a past participant in the ranching events during Cattlemen’s Days. “I get peace of mind out of working my horses. With our business now, it doesn’t allow me a lot of time to do what I was raised to do.
“I get real pleasure to be able to work my horse and see how my horse gets along and advances in all aspects of the ranch rodeo arena.”
That’s the basic idea for most who compete. Of course, there’s always those bragging rights, which just as valuable as anything for each year’s winners.