Rooftop has a big reach

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Volunteers are the spark that ignites the rodeo’s engine

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Rooftop Rodeo isn’t just a community event.

It’s a regional happening that reaches people globally, and it takes place for six straight summer nights – at 7 p.m. Friday, July 5-Wednesday, July 10, at Granny May Arena inside the Estes Park Fairgrounds.

Much of the reason for that is the large tourism base that attracts millions to town each year, but there’s more to it. Of the dozens of volunteers, many come from outside Estes Park and venture to town to help organize and produce the annual event.

“I do it because we’ve got a great group of people that work together to put on an awesome rodeo,” said Meg McEachron, a volunteer since 2018 who lives in Berthoud, Colorado, where she trains horses and teaches riding lessons. “It’s fun to show our way of life to so many people who don’t normally get exposed to it.”

She was raised in upstate New York, but she’s no East Coast prude. She was raised around livestock and has always understood a more Western way of life.

“My grandfather was a horseman; he stopped riding before I was born, but I definitely heard his love for it my whole life,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to have really great neighbors who had horses, so I got to be involved with their horses and helped exercise them, which was a great way to learn about the Western lifestyle.

“I went to my first rodeo when I was 11 or 12 – just a small one in upstate New York – and I fell in love with it.”

Though McEachron makes a living with horses, she still takes the time to volunteer for Rooftop Rodeo and be around them even more in one of the most beautiful settings in the sport.

“We have a strong volunteer base from other Colorado communities, and we need their help,” said Rob Hinkle, the community services director with the Town of Estes Park. “Estes Park is a small community, and July is one of the busiest months of tourism.”

He estimated that 90 people a year donate their time, talent and energy to the rodeo.

“The town would not be able to put on the rodeo without the help of all our volunteers,” he said. “It takes a committed group that meets for six months and then works the six-day rodeo. When this year’s rodeo ends, we will immediately start planning for next year. We hold a debrief meeting with all the volunteers, because we can always learn and improve.

“It took over 1,900 hours of volunteer help to produce last year’s rodeo.”

Brett Dennis puts in his share of time toward that. He works for UCHealth and lives in Firestone, Colorado, which is about 45 miles from the rodeo arena. He has been involved with Rooftop Rodeo since 2005.

“I’ve always enjoyed the sport of rodeo, and then I had the opportunity to meet and get to know some people who were on the rodeo committee,” said Dennis, who is in charge of the timed-event chute, including serving as the man to trip the latch when a contestant is ready to compete. “I joined the committee, and, now, some of my closest friends are on that committee.

“We not only truly enjoy the lifestyle the week of the rodeo, but we enjoy the year-round camaraderie of being part of that group of people.”

McEachron, who is in charge of the production team and helps coordinate other aspects of the rodeo, said she loves the event but, like Dennis, loves the collaboration with others even more. It’s a true team setting, which is why the rodeo has been so successful over the years.

“We’ve got a really great group of people who have stuck it out through all the changes we’ve had recently,” she said. “It’s just a fun group to be part of, and it’s really nice to have this group of people who wants to try hard and makes the show a little bit better for our fans and our contestants.”

Dennis grew up in a farming community in Illinois. Even as a youngster, there was something about rural America that drew him to it.

“When I was real little, the other kids would talk about wanting to be police officers and firefighters and doctors and lawyers,” he said. “I used to tell everybody I just wanted to be a farmer.”

He may not be in the field planting crops or trying to guess the right time to sell his grain, but he loves being associated with Rooftop Rodeo.

“I spend a lot of time in an office these days, so for one week, I play cowboy,” Dennis said. “It truly has to do with the friendships and relationships that we’ve made throughout the years. We have a good, strong group of highly motivated people to put on the best rodeo we can on a regular basis.

“I think it’s cool to be part of something bigger than we are on a regular basis. I’ve got two young girls that have literally spent their entire lives going to the rodeo in Estes Park for a week in July.”

Gates for Rooftop Rodeo open at 5 p.m. Friday, July 5-Wednesday, July 10, with the preshow beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the rodeo beginning at 7 p.m. For more information about Rooftop Rodeo, which is a Town of Estes Park signature event, or to order tickets online, log on to Other ticket inquiries may be made by contacting the Town of Estes Park Events office at or (970) 586-6104.


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