GUNNISON, Colo. – One thing members of the Cattlemen’s Days committee understand is that people in the community want to see the best.
That’s why the committee has gone above and beyond to make sure that happens during the annual PRCA rodeo, set for Thursday, July 11-Saturday, July 13, at Fred Field Western Heritage Center in Gunnison.
“We’ve considered the options of what we can do to bring more cowboys and cowgirls to our rodeo,” said Kevin Coblentz, the volunteer committee’s president. “We try to have as much hospitality as possible, we offer bonuses for our performance winners and we just try to treat them with the respect they deserve.”
Rodeo contestants travel tens of thousands a mile a year to make a living. In addition to the expenses that come with that type of schedule, they must pay entry fees in order to compete. The only way the make any money at a rodeo is to beat most of the others in the field.
“The rodeo life can be a lot of fun, but there’s a lot that goes into it,” Coblentz said. “You have independence and get to travel. If you’re good enough, you can make a living, but it takes a lot of work to get to that point. There aren’t that many that actually qualify for the NFR.”
The National Finals Rodeo is the sport’s grand finale that takes place at Las Vegas in December, but only the top 15 contestants on the money list at the end of the season in each event advance. That’s why rodeos with bigger purses provide more incentive.
Count Cattlemen’s Days in that category, and this year, the committee has taken that up a notch. The contestants’ entry fees are mixed with what rodeo insiders call “added money,” locally provided dollars that help make up the total purse.
“We decided to up our added money to $5,000 in each event and in both heading and heeling in the team roping,” Coblentz said. “We wanted to offer as much of an incentive for these cowboys to come to Gunnison. If they’ve been here before, we want them back. If they haven’t, we want them to see what our rodeo and our community is about.
“We’re very proud of what we have here, and we hope the cowboys who come will understand why.”