The rodeo will go on in 2020

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Despite delays because of COVID-19, the 2020 edition of Cattlemen's Days rodeo will take place over Labor Day weekend, with performances set for Sept. 3-5, in Gunnison, Colorado. (PHOTO BY ROBBY FREEMAN)

Delayed by pandemic, Cattlemen’s Days is now scheduled for Sept. 3-5

GUNNISON, Colo. – Over the last 120 years, the annual Cattlemen’s Days celebration has featured its rodeo through the 1918 flu pandemic, the 1918 flood, World War I, the Depression and World War II.

The organizers that produce the annual event aren’t letting the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic get in the way of the longest continuous-running rodeo in the country; it’s scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3-Saturday, Sept. 5, Fred Field Western Center in Gunnison.

“This community has a long-standing tradition of mental toughness and fortitude,” said Kevin Coblentz, president of the volunteer committee that organizes the celebration. “We have a great deal of pride when it comes to Cattlemen’s Days and our rodeo. We are proud of the history we have, and we’re excited to continue through our 120th straight year of having a rodeo.

“More than anything, each of us that volunteers for Cattlemen’s Days is proud of this community and the people in it. That is why we work so hard every year to produce this big event.”

With restrictions handed down by authorities, the initial plan is to have a rodeo absent of fans. Organizers are working with the rodeo’s video production crew to set up multiple video boards around the community to showcase the action to people who want to take in the rodeo.

In addition, the Cattlemen’s Days committee is working to have the rodeo broadcast on The Cowboy Channel. More details on all video will be released at a later date.

“There is a good chance the restrictions will be eased some in mid-August, so we may be able to have some people in the stands for the rodeo,” Coblentz said, estimating the crowd count could be 25 percent of its normal capacity. “For now, though, we are planning for the worst-case scenario and hoping for the best situation possible.”

With the mandated conditions of having a rodeo, the committee is getting creative with its fundraising efforts. Each member understands the hardships that have come economically, but they have had tremendous support from many regular sponsors.

“We’re actually reaching out to the rodeo community and asking people to support rodeo and rodeo athletes,” Coblentz said. “We are setting up a GoFundMe page, and we are happy to take any donation anyone is willing to provide us in this trying year.

“What we’re hoping for, though, is to have 1,000 Cowboy Sponsors at $150 apiece. That would provide the funding to keep our added money (locally raised dollars) in a range where it has been. Every dime of money raised through the cowboy sponsorships will go to the contestants.”

To sponsor Cattlemen’s Days via the GoFundMe page, click THIS LINK.

“The fact that we’re announcing it on the National Day of the Cowboy (the fourth Saturday in July) is a big deal to me and the other cowboys out there,” Coblentz said. “We want to celebrate the cowboys who are part of rodeo across the nation, and having our rodeo is the best way we can do that.

“Traditionally we have done things the old-fashioned way, and we will continue to do that as we reach out to our event sponsors, chute sponsors and others who want to be part of Cattlemen’s Days. With technology and the ability to reach so many people via the GoFundMe page, we find ourselves in a position to reach the rodeo community, the people that have supported the sport for so long.”

All Cowboy Sponsors will have their names placed in a lottery. Names will then be drawn from that bundle, and if a sponsor’s name is collected, that person will receive two tickets to the rodeo.

“Even if they’re not drawn, each Cowboy Sponsor will still be recognized at our rodeo and through our advertising,” he said. “The biggest reason we’re doing this is because we want to give opportunities to the cowboys and cowgirls. We also want to support our contract personnel and those that have been there for us through the good times and the not-so-good times.”

There’s also something about finding a good reason to celebrate all that makes Gunnison special. Not only is it a picturesque mountain community, but it also features a hometown feel that draws visitors back year after year.

“In the spirit of Gunnison, we know we can get through the pandemic of 2020 with perseverance and strength,” Coblentz said. “The mental toughness we have here has been exhibited for decades, and we’re using that to produce another great rodeo in this community.”


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