ESTES PARK, Colo. – Over the last year, volunteers have been busy planning, scheduling and decorating the biggest party of the year in Estes Park.
It’s not balloons and candles on a cake, but it may as well be: The award-winning and prestigious Rooftop Rodeo is celebrating its 90th birthday during six world-class performances, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6-Monday, July 11, at Granny May Arena in Estes Park. Tickets may be purchased through www.RooftopRodeo.com.
“The members of this committee have a lot of pride in this event,” said Ben Vigil, president of Estes Park Western Heritage Inc., a group of volunteers that works with the town of Estes Park to produce the annual rodeo. “We began planning this year’s rodeo just as soon as last year’s was over.”
While the anniversary is special, that’s actually the type of thing that has made Rooftop Rodeo one of the very best in the North America for so long. From 2003-2010, the committee was selected five times as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Small Rodeo of the Year. In 2011, the rodeo moved into the medium division and has been nominated as one of the top five in its category every year since.
Rooftop isn’t the only award-gathering aspect of this year’s rodeo, which will showcase the return of entertainer Justin Rumford, the reigning four-time PRCA Clown of the Year.
“Estes Park is one of my favorite places, not just because of the rodeo,” said Rumford, who entertained at Rooftop Rodeo in 2013. “During the day, we went canoeing, rode bikes and went golfing. We took it all in. I was busy all day being a tourist. It’s just beautiful.”
The town is home to about 6,000 people, but it hosts 4 million tourists. It also showcases a world-class rodeo, which will feature about 800 contestants through this year’s exposition.
“To have that rodeo is a whole community effort,” Rumford said. “They’ve been nominated for rodeo of the year because cowboys remember when they’re treated good. The committee is truly on the side of the cowboys. The contestants are a priority.
“They’re great to the contract personnel, and they take care of you once you get there. They just go out of their way. It’s just a good committee to work with.”
As an entertainer and barrelman, he will work closely with announcer Andy Seiler and the crew from Cervi Rodeo, a Colorado-based stock-contracting firm, in the overall production of each of the six performances. He also will keep the fans laughing with his off-the-cuff antics and flair for comedy.
“I’ve known the Cervis forever,” Rumford said of the family company, which has been recognized as Stock Contractor of the Year twice. “I probably wouldn’t be clowning if it wasn’t for Cervi Rodeo. When I first (started), Binion (Cervi) hired me for every rodeo he could.
“They’re a lot like me; they’re looking out for the future of rodeo. They do rodeo schools and recruit. They’re trying to better themselves, better their company and better their rodeos every year.”
It shows, especially in Estes Park. Having Rumford as part of the rodeo will be a key factor in another successful year.
After all, what would a good birthday party be without a great clown? Rooftop Rodeo will have the best next week.