Rooftop is back in the saddle

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Colt Gordon was one of several National Finals Rodeo qualifiers to have success at this year’s Rooftop Rodeo. The volunteers that produce the annual rodeo in Estes Park, Colorado, overcame several obstacles to make sure the event occurred.

Estes Park rodeo returns and puts on a heck of a show for big crowds

ESTES PARK, Colo. – In January, the members of the Estes Park Western Heritage Inc., began planning an event they didn’t even know if they’d be able to have.

The organization is a group of volunteers that annually works with the town of Estes Park to produce Rooftop Rodeo, which just completed its six-day run Saturday night. After having to cancel the 2020 edition of the community’s most prestigious events, there were some challenges that had to be overcome in order for the rodeo to occur this year.

“The first numbers regarding capacity for our rodeo were just ugly,” said Mark Purdy, the group’s chairman. “We were going to be allowed just 25 percent of capacity, and we could not have run it at that level. Once we got to 50 percent, it was still ugly, but we started thinking we could possibly pull this thing off.

“We also were at 50 percent of our normal sponsorships at April, and we started tightening our budget so we could have it this year. In May, Colorado went full capacity, so we got to add some things back. We just tried to make it as normal as possible.”

Over the years, Rooftop Rodeo has been recognized as one of the best events in ProRodeo. Six times it’s been honored as Rodeo of the Year: five times in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association as Small Rodeo of the Year and once as the Medium Committee of the Year in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.

Regularly it has hosted hundreds of the greatest stars in the game and has been seen as a destination event, but something spectacular happened this year with 830 entries.

“We set a record,” Purdy said. “That was just incredible. We were just gratified to see the contestants were coming back. With that, we started seeing other things happen. We had all our box seats sold out three weeks out. We had our stands filled to about 90 percent to 95 percent capacity early in the week, and we were sold out on Friday and Saturday nights. Our traditional sponsors started coming back in a big way.”

What they saw was spectacular competition. There were big scores and fast times all week, with one of the biggest winners was Utahan Stetson Wright, who won the bull riding and all-around titles in Estes Park; he is the reigning world champion in both.

Actually, the leaderboards of all events were filled with world champions and National Finals Rodeo qualifiers, including saddle bronc rider Sterling Crawley, who claimed the crown with his 83-point ride on the final night. The times in barrel racing were exceptionally fast throughout the week of competition, with NFR qualifier Shelley Morgan winning the title in a time of 16.66 seconds, just two-tenths off the arena record.

It all happened because a group of dedicated volunteers made a concerted effort to overcome whatever challenges they faced and produce an incredible event for members of the Estes Park community and the tourists that make it such a vibrant mountain town each summer.

“We have a really passionate group of committee people, and they never wavered,” Purdy said. “I know a lot of rodeos and other events had a real big problem with volunteer retainment after the pandemic, but we didn’t have a problem with that.

“Everybody stepped up. We were ready for a 50 percent capacity in April, and then it opened up. We also got a handful of new sponsors are now long-term committed to our rodeo. Our future is looking very bright at Rooftop Rodeo.”

Rooftop Rodeo
Estes Park, Colo.
All-around cowboy: 
Stetson Wright, $4,276, saddle bronc riding and bull riding.

Bareback riding: 1. Tyler Johnson, 87.5 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Zipper Trick, $5,534; 2. Tray Chambliss III, 86.5, $4,243; 3. Bodee Lammers, 84.5, $3,136; 4. Garrett Shadbolt, 83.5, $2,029; 5. (tie) Lane McGehee, Will Lowe, Luke Creasy and Jake Brown, 83, $876 each.

Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Dirk Tavenner, 3.3 seconds, $1,861; 2. Brandon Harrison, 3.4, $1,541; 3. Dalton Massey, 3.7, $1,220; 4. (tie) Tristan Martin and Payden McIntyre, 3.8, $738 each; 6. (tie) Cade Staton, Kyle Broce and Bill Claunch, 3.9, $107 each. Second round: 1. Jule Hazen, 3.4 seconds, $1,861; 2. Grady Payne, 3.5, $1,541; 3. Rowdy Parrott, 3.6, $1,220; 4. (tie) Kyle Irwin, Riley Krassin, Jacob Talley, Will Lummus and Laramie Warren, 3.8, $359 each. Average: 1. Brandon Harrison, 7.9 seconds on two head, $2,792; 2. (tie) Jacob Talley and Will Lummus, 8.0, $2,070 each; 4. Laramie Warren, 8.4, $1,348; 5. (tie) Tyler Waguespack and Riley Krassin, 8.5, $674 each.

Team roping: First round: 1. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 4.5 seconds, $1,811 each; 2. Tate Kirchenschlager/Cole Davison, 4.8, $1,499; 3. Coy Rahlmann/Douglas Rich, 5.0, $1,186; 4. (tie) Tanner Tomlinson/Patrick Smith and Rhen Richard/Jeremy Buhler, 5.1, $718 each; 6. Lightning Aguilera/Shay Dixon Carroll, 5.2, $312. Second round: 1. Coleman Proctor/Logan Medlin, 4.2 seconds, $1,811 each; 2. John Gaona/Trevor Nowlin, 4.4, $1,499; 3. Colby Lovell/Paul Eaves, 4.5, $1,186; 4. Clay Smith/Jade Corkill, 4.7, $874; 5. (tie) Tyler Waters/Richard Durham and Tate Kirchenschlager/Cole Davison, 4.9, $437 each. Average: 1. (tie) Tate Kirchenschlager/Cole Davison and Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 9.7 seconds on two head, $2,482 each; 3. Tyler Waters/Richard Durham, 10.3, $1,780; 4. Andrew Ward/Buddy Hawkins II, 10.8, $1,311; 5. Erich Rogers/Paden Bray, 10.9, $843; 6. Jake Orman/Brye Crites, 11.0, $468.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Sterling Crawley, 83 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s 2 week Notice, $5,584; 2. Colt Gordon, 81.5, $4,281; 3. (tie) Jacob Kammerer and Ryder Wright, 79, $2,606 each; 5. (tie) Layton Green, Mitch Pollock, Wyatt Casper and Jacobs Crawley, 78, $884 each.

Tie-down roping: 1. Riley Pruitt, 7.3 seconds, $4,054; 2. Trenton Smith, 8.0, $3,627; 3. Bo Pickett, 8.4, $3,201; 4. Andrew Burks, 8.6, $2,774; 5. Tom Crouse, 8.7, $2,347; 6. Ryan Belew, 8.8, $1,920; 7. (tie) Hunter Reaume and Colton Farquer, 8.9, $1,280 each; 9. (tie) Marty Yates and Bryce Barney, 9.1, $427 each.

Barrel racing: 1. Shelley Morgan, 16.66 seconds, $4,221; 2. Dona Kay Rule, 16.68, $3,376; 3. Sissy Winn, 16.78, $2,743; 4. Jessie Telford, 16.80, $2,110; 5. Sidney Forrest, 16.85, $1,688; 6. Katie Halbert, 16.93, $1,266; 7. Michelle Alley, 16.95, $1,055; 8. Emily Miller-Beisel, 16.96, $950; 9. (tie) Jill Wilson and Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 16.97, $791 each; 11. Nicole Waggoner-Ludwick, 16.98, $633; 12. Jessi Fish, 17.00, $528; 13. Paige Jones, 17.01, $422; 14. Lisa Lockhart, 17.02, $317; 15. Maddy Dickens, 17.03, $211.

Bull riding: 1. Stetson Dell Wright, 86.5 points on The Cervi Brothers’ Major Leaguer, $4,276; 2. Briggs Madsen, 86, $3,278; 3. Jesse Hopper, 81, $2,423; 4. Dakota Nye, 78.5, $1,568; 5. Lon Danley, 77, $998; 6. Ednei Caminhas, 76, $713; 7. Trevor Reiste, 75, $570; 8. Sage Kimzey, 74.5, $428.


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