Rooftop champs relish this rodeo

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Will Lummus not only set an arena record last year, but he also won the Rooftop Rodeo title en route to his first qualification to the National Finals Rodeo. (PHOTO BY GREG WESTFALL)

Four of the eight 2018 winners, including a world champ, earned NFR bids

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Rooftop Rodeo has always been an important stop for the top cowboys and cowgirls in ProRodeo.

Whether it’s the mountain beauty of Estes Park or the big money up for grabs, it’s the perfect setting for those that make their living playing the game they love. Hundreds of them will return for this year’s event, set for 7 p.m. Monday, July 8-Saturday, July 13, at Granny May Arena in Estes Park inside the Estes Park Fairgrounds.

Of the eight champions from the 2018 Rooftop Rodeo, half utilized the money won in this Colorado resort town to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale that features only the top 15 money-earners in each event.

“We pride ourselves on being a place the contestants want to come to every summer,” 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. “To see that so many of our champions went on to the NFR shows the caliber of contestants we attract here.

“One of our winners was Caleb Smidt, who went on to win the world title. Another was Will Lummus, who was in the hunt for the championship until the ninth round of the NFR. I know we’re excited to see cowboys like that back here.”

Lummus, in fact, set a Rooftop Rodeo record with a 3.2-second run to win the second round and the overall title. It was one of the catalysts to his first qualification to ProRodeo’s finale.

“That was the fastest steer I’ve ever thrown,” said Lummus of West Point, Miss. “(In 2017), I was 4.5 on both steers and didn’t win anything. I like Estes Park. It’s an awesome place to be. They have always had good steers, and just the environment …

“I’m from Mississippi, and we don’t have mountains. Everywhere you go around here, the scenery is beautiful. There are great cattle, a great committee; this is a great place to have a rodeo with great fans. It’s a wonderful place to be.”

The $4,526 he pocketed was pretty wonderful, too. Rodeo is a unique sport; not only do dollars help pay bills and cover expenses with traveling across the country, but they also serve as championship points. The contestants with the most money won in each event are crowned world champions.

Others Rooftop Rodeo champions who made it to Las Vegas last December were team roping header Tyler Wade, who pocketed $4,440 in Estes Park, and saddle bronc rider Brody Cress, who earned a little more than $7,000.

“I love it over here,” Wade said. “The mountains are awesome. There are a lot of committees that don’t take care of their contestants quite as good as I think they should, but they do here. We appreciate every bit of it.”


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