Rodeo experts boast about Eagle

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John Gwatney and his wife are contract personnel for the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. John, who serves as the chute boss, had to step in as a ProRodeo official during the third performance of this year's event after two judges were delayed by a landslide west of Eagle, Colorado.

EAGLE, Colo. – John and Sandy Gwatney have seen and experienced many things in their rodeo careers.

Whether it was on the contestant side or the production side, the husband-wife tandem has been around the good and the bad in rodeo. They know what it takes to be involved in the best that the sport has to offer.

Both are integral parts of the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, and they are a big reason behind its success every year. Sandy is the rodeo secretary, handling the behind-the-scenes duties that are involved in organizing and handling the paperwork involved in ProRodeo. John is the production supervisor, the director of the action.

“John and Sandy are just part of our family,” said Hanna Albertson, chairwoman of the fair and rodeo’s advisory council. “We lean on them and their expertise, and we trust what they do. Not only are they our family, but they are our advisors and people we know will give us the honest truth.”

The truth is, the Gwatneys believe in Eagle’s rodeo, which has been nominated for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Medium Size Rodeo of the Year.

“The Eagle rodeo is a complete package,” said Sandy Gwatney, a two-time PRCA Secretary of the Year. “They rodeo is great and hospitable to the contestants, they are amazing for us as contract personnel. They take great care of our animals, and they try to fix anything that should arise or take care of any need we may have.”

That’s been the same glowing recommendation spread around about Eagle’s rodeo, whether it’s by other personnel or by the contestants themselves. The rodeo has been recognized as a gem in the PRCA, and that nomination for top rodeo is proof.

“Eagle should be nominated for Rodeo of the Year every year, but I think it gets lost in the shuffle because it’s in the middle of the year and the busy season,” Sandy Gwatney said. “Sometimes people forget that it’s here and how wonderful it is.

“There are so many contestants that have never been because there are so many that time of year, and they are clearly missing out. The crowds are always fantastic. It’s just an amazing rodeo.”

One thing that isn’t missing is an active crowd and incredible action during all four performances of the annual rodeo. With Pete Carr Pro Rodeo providing National Finals Rodeo-caliber bucking animals and the overall production, big names in the game make their way to this picturesque community tucked inside the Rocky Mountains.

“Whenever you have a beautiful setting and have all these people in the stands, the energy is real,” John Gwatney said. “The weather’s cool, the crowd is electric, the livestock bucks great, the steers all run good, the cowboys are pumped up, and it’s just a great atmosphere.

“This rodeo committee brings the best here for this crowd. People who are not rodeo fans come to this rodeo, and they understand how great this rodeo is.”


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