GUNNISON, Colo. – Growing up on the outskirts of this picturesque Rocky Mountain town, Tyler Hanson learned the value of hard work and what it means to be part of a community.
He operates Umbrella Bar Hay & Cattle Co. and is following in his family’s footsteps as one of the chief committee members for Gunnison’s Cattlemen’s Days celebration. He’s been around the community gathering all his life, so it’s a natural fit.
“My first recollection is probably when I was 4 or 5 years old and showing in the open horse show,” said Hanson, 34, the committee’s second vice president. “My uncle Bret and my dad both served as president of the committee, and I’ve had cousins and other family that have been on the committee. I have extended family that is still on the committee, and my brother and my wife are still part of it.”
The tasks of the volunteers who help organize the annual event are numerous and detailed, but each member does it in honor of the community in which they serve. That’s why it’s nice that he and his wife, Hannah, can work together and share their love for the celebration with their 14-month-old son, Colby.
“I showed constantly in the open horse show all the way through high school,” he said. “I did 4H. We used to have steer riding, and I competed in that for three or four years. I also have competed in the Watershed Team Roping since I was 7 or 8 years old.
“Volunteering for Cattlemen’s Days is a tradition in the Gunnison community. For these ranching families, that’s our week not to worry about the work and go to town and enjoy ourselves. For me, I wanted to be part of Cattlemen’s Days to help in keeping our rodeo around.”
The annual PRCA rodeo is set for Thursday, July 14-Saturday, July 16, at Fred Field Western Center in Gunnison. It will feature many of the top stars in professional rodeo and some incredible action.
“I believe our rodeo is getting a resurgence back in it,” Hanson said. “For a lot of people, having a rodeo is becoming a lost art. I wanted to help keep rodeo in our community and keep the agriculture background in this valley in front of other people who haven’t been raised the way I was raised.”
Both a life in agriculture and a presence in rodeo are important to the Gunnison cowboy. He attended Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado, where he team roped and rode bulls while working toward a degree in equine management. He returned home and is hoping to continue to energize his community and the people who care about keeping the tradition alive.
“Agriculture is what started this whole valley,” he said. “To me, it feels like this valley is losing touch with that aspect of our lives, and that’s a key reason I think it’s important to keep Cattlemen’s Days around for it.
“For me, it’s giving back to the community. There was huge community support when I was a young kid learning the tradition of Cattlemen’s Days. It’s important that we keep doing this for the next generation.”
Now that he’s a father, the urgency has been amplified.
“I want my son to experience what I did growing up with Cattlemen’s Days, learning what there is outside the ranching world in the Gunnison Valley,” Hanson said. “That’s probably the biggest reason I got involved in team roping. Without Cattlemen’s Days, I wouldn’t have known there was a big rodeo world outside of this valley.”
Beyond the annual celebration, he remains involved in the community in other ways. He’s a member of the Farm Service Agency board and serves as Gunnison County’s FSA representative. He’s been on the board of the Gunnison Roping Club and continues to be an active member of the group.
He knows the importance of keeping children involved, and his focus is pointed toward having horses involved. There is a sense of healing that happens with horses in people’s lives. He has experienced it, whether it was roping during one of the PRCA performances in front of a big crowd or being one of many family members who were part of horseracing when it was part of Cattlemen’s Days.
“The fact that we’re going to have our 122nd celebration of Cattlemen’s Days is the reason it’s special,” Hanson said. “It’s lasted over time. A lot of things come and go throughout the years, but Cattlemen’s Days is still here and it’s still the biggest week in the Gunnison Valley visitor-wise and money-wise. It’s still a big deal for the families. That makes it a big deal for us, too.”