Rooftop changes start time

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Bareback rider Tanner Phipps rides during the 2016 Rooftop Rodeo, which will begin at 7 p.m. this year.
Bareback rider Tanner Phipps rides during the 2016 Rooftop Rodeo, which will begin at 7 p.m. this year.

Rodeo will begin sooner, with gates opening at 5 p.m., ProRodeo starting at 7 p.m.

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Everyone’s time is valuable, and the organizers of Rooftop Rodeo understand that as well as anyone.

It’s the reason the six performances of the rodeo will move up half an hour to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 5-Monday, July 10, at Granny May Arena in Estes Park.

“We’ve started the rodeo at that time forever,” said Mark Purdy, chairman of Estes Park Western Heritage Inc., a group of volunteers that works with the town of Estes Park to produce the annual rodeo.

“We have decided to change because of our changing demographics and because we’ll have better lighting. Families want to be done earlier so they can get their kids home sooner.”

That mindset is working wonders for anyone who wants to enjoy a world-class competition mixed with family-friendly entertainment.

“Rooftop Rodeo has a very proud history of having a great crowd every night,” said Ben Vigil, president of Western Heritage. “Our fans really get into the rodeo and the fun that comes with it, and we have looked closely at this over the years.

“With so many tourists having so many things going on, we wanted to make sure they can enjoy the daytime activities that we have around here and still enjoy a great rodeo. We also want to make it easier on the locals that come to our rodeo.”

The rodeo offers a full evening of entertainment. Each two-hour performance will feature athletic cowboys and cowgirls competing on equally athletic animals. Fast horses and wild rides are just pieces to the puzzle that comes with Estes Park’s rodeo.

“The key to a good rodeo is to have great rides and fast times, but it should be fun and entertaining to the fans,” said Purdy, noting that the gates open and the behind-the-chutes tours start at 5 p.m.; mutton busting will begin at 5:30 p.m.; and the Rodeo Evening Kickoff Show kicks off at 6:30 p.m. – the tours are available to those who specifically purchase Behind The Chutes tickets. “We’ve got a great stock contractor in the Cervi family, and we believe we have one of the best rodeos in the country.

“We have had great support from this community over the years, and we want it to be a two-way street. We want the community and the tourists to equally enjoy the rodeo we bring to town every July.”

That takes a great deal of work to make it happen, and dozens of volunteers put in the man hours each year to make Rooftop Rodeo so grand. Over the last two decades, the event has been recognized as one of the best in the country.

“We want the fans and the contestants alike to love Rooftop Rodeo,” Vigil said. “We want the cowboys and cowgirls to come to town, enjoy everything that Estes Park has to offer and say that we are one of their favorite rodeos every year.

“I can’t say enough about everyone who makes this thing happen. The volunteers are some of the most dedicated people I know, ant their work is greatly appreciated. The cowboys and fans don’t always see all the work that goes into it, but I know they appreciate it, too.”


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