GUNNISON, Colo. – When Stace Smith decided he was going to produce rodeos, he knew he wanted the cowboys in the field to determine the outcome.
That’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw. One steer might stand out in a herd of 20. One bronc may be much better than all the others. That gives the fortunate person – who was matched with than animal by random draw – an advantage over the rest.
“We try to make it as even as possible,” said Cody Kidd, general manager of Stace Smith Pro Rodeos. “In our regards, we do it for the contestants. We want to make it as fair as we can across the board. We want a guy who enters to have as good of a chance as anybody else.
“We want to make it an equal playing field, then the true talent of the cowboy comes out, too.”
For better than 20 years, the 11-time PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year has produced the annual Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo, set for Thursday, July 14-Saturday, July 16, at Fred Field Western Center in Gunnison.
Smith and his crew will bring the right kind of livestock to make for fantastic competition through the three days of action. That means he’ll have consistency in calves, steers, broncs and bulls, even if that means hiring outside firms to also come to Gunnison and bring their best animals.
A year ago, all three roughstock events were won on something other than a Smith-owned animal. Will Lowe won bareback riding on Hurst & TNT’s Casino, while bronc rider Tegan Smith won on Hurst & TNT’s Charlie’s Angels. Ky Hamilton won the bull tiding title on Rafter G’s Johnny Cash.
“Stace is very well known to sub-contract and ask the subs to bring their best animals in,” Kidd said. “That’s the whole reason why we keep the animals even.”
It’s one of the things that makes Cattlemen’s Days rodeo such a good event, but there are others. Foremost among them, Kidd said, is the legacy that is Gunnison and its rodeo, which will celebrate its 122nd year.
“Tradition is a big thing in Gunnison … that and family atmosphere,” he said. “We talk to people every year that go there, whether they’re originally from Gunnison or it’s a destination spot, and they said the reason they come back is they were brought there as a kid.
“It’s a small town in Colorado that has a ton of tourists, but it also has a bunch of loyal locals that love that rodeo. You get both aspects: You get the tourist side of things for people who do like us and get out of the heat in Texas, then you get the locals that are die-hard.”
It’s there that the Smith brand of competition mixed with entertainment comes into play. Kidd and his crew want to make sure it all happens for fans and contestants when they get to the rodeo. Having such knowledgeable fans makes it easy.
“The locals there are really as good to us, and they know rodeo,” Kidd said. “When the judges mess up a score, those people let them know it. If there was a rodeo where the fans could judge it, that would be the one because they know it that good.”