An outlaw approach to rodeo

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Longtime Rooftop Rodeo committee member Rick Life wears his Cinch shirt as he cleans banners prior to one of the six performances at last year’s Rooftop Rodeo.

Rooftop Rodeo committee has been a longtime partner with Cinch

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Rooftop Rodeo was a Cinch rodeo before being one was cool.

There was a time not long ago when another Western clothier had a stranglehold on ProRodeo marketing, and the Colorado-based manufacturer was left to its own devices. David Dean, the chairman and CEO of parent company Miller International, found brilliant avenues around the situation, and members of the Estes Park Western Heritage Inc. were right beside him.

“Western Heritage was established in 2012 after the rodeo was produced by a town committee for the first 80 years of the rodeo’s existence,” said Mark Purdy, chairman of the group, which features volunteers that now work with the town of Estes Park to produce the annual event. “We wanted to establish a stand-alone non-profit; we’d do all the sponsorships and give every dime back to the town.”

As the levels of organization grew, the founders realized they needed special people to be involved on Western Heritage’s board and asked Dean to be a director. Not only did he agree, but he also brought a powerful punch to the table: The Cinch brand.

Alas, the Cinch Outlaws were born, and members of the committee wore the Cinch shirts with pride. They still do and will during this year’s Rooftop Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 6-Monday, July 11, at Granny May Arena in Estes Park inside the Estes Park Fairgrounds.

“It was a fun thing in our minds,” Purdy said with a laugh. “We called ourselves the Pirate Rodeo. We were a constant fly in the ointment for the PRCA, and David started supplying our entire committee with Cinch committee shirts. We never have paid a dime for those, and we have a bunch of committee members. We have six performances, so we have six different colored shirts to use each year, and David has never balked once about providing them for us.”

While the PRCA’s primary clothing sponsor had naming rights of the National Finals Rodeo and had a monopoly on banners and placements at rodeos, the Cinch Outlaws continued to make their ways across the rodeo circles. They wore their Cinch Rooftop Rodeo shirts all over Las Vegas each December during the NFR and even had patches made with a skull and crossbones to showcase their marauder theme.

“We actually had somebody stitch in a Cinch insignia, and we wore those everywhere we could,” Purdy said. “We couldn’t have Cinch banners that were visible from the arena, but we had them up in the tent where we had our queens’ luncheon. The PRCA balked at that, but we assured them the banners were not visible from the arena.”

That all changed a few years ago when the PRCA opened its doors to more sponsorships and allowed the monopoly to end. Since then, Cinch banners have been proudly displayed inside and out at rodeo arenas across the country.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that before the chains broke and allowed Cinch in the door, Cinch had been putting a lot of money into the rodeo ecosystem – high school rodeo, college rodeo and senior ProRodeo – and now there are quite a few rodeos that are Cinch-based,” Purdy said.

None, though, were Cinch through and through like Rooftop Rodeo was a decade ago. In fact, the committee has gone a step further; when the makers of Cinch started brewing Gold Buckle Beer, Estes Park volunteers started selling it at the rodeo. Both brands are important fixtures when the rodeo is in town.

“We’ve covered our arena in Cinch,” Purdy said. “It’s up on our scoreboard. It’s going to be on our center gate. David Dean and Cinch have been fabulous partners of Rooftop Rodeo, and I hope they will be for years to come.”


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