GUNNISON, Colo. – In his hometown of Charleston, Arkansas, Cody Sosebee can walk outside in the summertime and begin sweating in just a few steps.
The town of 2,300 souls is surrounded by trees and creeks and has a lake on its south side. It’s not far from the Arkansas River and the Oklahoma state line. July temperatures soar into the 90s, and with humidity levels so high that one could cut with a knife, it feels more than 100 degrees on most days.
That’s when it’s easy to reflect on last year’s work trip to the Gunnison Valley. It’s why he’s looking forward to returning to Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo, set for Thursday, July 13-Saturday, July 15, at Fred Field Western Center in Gunnison, where Sosebee will again serve as the featured entertainer and funnyman.
“Last year, I took a picture of my thermostat, and it was like 40 to 50 degrees,” he said with a smile, knowing full well there will be milder temperatures when he arrives this year. “It was just like a big, outside air conditioner.”
There are many aspects to his job that Sosebee enjoys, and one of those is experiencing different communities with different climates while getting to entertain thousands of people over just a few days. His talent and likeability are reasons why the volunteers on the Cattlemen’s Days committee asked him to return, and he’s excited to put on a show for all who come to see Gunnison’s rodeo.
“We really enjoyed having Cody last year and are glad to have him back,” said Brad Tutor, first vice president of the Cattlemen’s Days committee. “He’s got a lot of great acts and does a great job of interacting with our crowd. He is as funny as anyone we’ve ever had, and that makes it fun for everybody.”
That’s the idea. Rodeo is equal parts of great competition and family fun, which is where the Arkansas man comes into play. In addition to his acts, he will also be part of the show throughout, offering rib-ticklers for anyone and everyone. His comedy transcends generations, which is why he’s so sought-after.
Sosebee has been a regular nominee for PRCA Clown of the Year and PRCA Comedy Act of the Year, the latter of which he won in 2018. He’s worked some of the largest rodeos in the world, including the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Frontier Days and the National Finals Rodeo. He’s traveled the country extensively and has a star on the map so he knows to return to Gunnison when he can.
“Before last year, I’d worked Gunnison a long time ago,” Sosebee said. “I was super excited to get to go back to Gunnison, and I’m excited to go back again this year. When there’s been years in between, you can see the strides of success that those people have made. They understand the importance of hiring a good stock contractor, good sound and a good announcer, and I think it shows in the product they give their fans.
“That arena is so inviting, because the grandstands are full and people are wanting to get closer to the arena to see you. It’s an awesome setting to work. The other clowns that have worked there know that it’s a special rodeo.”
That’s true. In 2019, the rodeo was recognized as the best in its category in the Mountain States Region, a series of PRCA rodeos in Colorado and Wyoming. Last year, Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo was nominated as one of the top five Medium Rodeos of the Year across North America. There’s a reason for that success.
“I think that rodeos that are super invested in the long term are doing the right things,” Sosebee said. “There are some rodeos that just have a place in your heart. You know it’s going to be a great time and have great crowds. Gunnison falls into both of those categories.
“That rodeo committee works hard, and that makes it easier to work with those people. They’re all-in, and the people in that community are all-in for the rodeo. It’s like watching the top guys. They’re fun to watch. They’re committed. They’re going for it. When a rodeos are excited to grow, they’re fun to work.”
Of course, Sosebee’s job is about fun, and he wants to enjoy his time in the arena while bringing joy to others. He works closely with announcer Andy Stewart, and the two banter back and forth to make sure everyone is entertained.
“To me, Andy is one of the easiest announcers to work with, because he brings a lot of passion to what he does,” Sosebee said. “He’s even on a different level at Gunnison. Andy will match the energy with the crowd. The rowdier they get, the rowdier he’ll get. Before you know it, we’re in the middle of a party in the middle of that arena.
“He sets me up with great crowd interaction. Andy wants to have the best possible performance, and he wants me to have the best possible performance. He’s a very unselfish person, and he wants us all to put on a great show for the crowd.”
Because of that, the big man with a big personality is able to showcase his talents before thousands of people each night. Whether he’s in Prescott, Arizona, or Cheyenne, Wyoming, or Gunnison, Colorado, Sosebee is on top of his game.
“My job allows me to entertain people,” he said. “They buy a ticket to be entertained. When you see them laughing and cheering and having fun, I don’t think that’s a job. It’s like I realized last year when I was soaking in the scenery after the rodeo was over: I get to sit to where I can see the Tenderfoot Mountain and all the stuff that surrounds that arena, and I just get to soak it all in.
“I get to go to places my family has never been. You forget that it is a job.”