Rooftop is just right for rodeo

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Estes Park offers major attractions for the sport’s top cowboys, cowgirls

ESTES PARK, Colo. – The heat of rodeo competition and the heat of summer collide during a lucrative series of events that surround the Fourth of July holiday.

Hundreds of contestants will have a chance to cool their minds and bodies when they make their way to Rooftop Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Friday, July 5-Wednesday, July 10, at Granny May Arena inside the Estes Park Fairgrounds. Like so many tourists who make their way to this town every summer, rodeo cowboys and cowgirls converge on the community to not only enjoy the scenery and atmosphere, but they also have their chance at big money.

Take Shelley Morgan, a barrel racer from Eustace, Texas. She and her main mount, Kiss, have been running hot in their home state, so a trip to the cool mountain air is the perfect reprieve for the talented duo. Morgan is a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier who is sixth in the world standings heading into the holiday week.

She must like Estes Park,” Morgan said of Kiss, a 10-year-old sorrel mare, on which she won Rooftop Rodeo last July. “She was feeling it that night.”

The dynamic duo will return to Estes Park for this year’s rodeo with a repeat title in mind. Morgan, who finished third in the 2022 world standings after winning the aggregate championship at that year’s NFR, just missed the finale last year, placing 23rd overall – only the top 15 contestants on the money list in each event at the conclusion of the regular season advance to Las Vegas to run for the titles.

The one thing barrel racers know is times will be fast at Granny May Arena. Morgan and Kiss set a new standard when they rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 15.84 seconds.

“She did feel like she was running in Estes,” Morgan said. “You can feel when she’s not running and when she’s overrating the barrels. Did I feel like she was going to do that good? No, but I knew it was going to be fast.

“I know she’s done good there before, so a lot of times you try to go where you know the horse likes that setup. I was second on the ground, so that helped some. We didn’t know what Estes was going to be like, because it had rained quite a bit in previous days.”

The footing held up, and so did Morgan’s time.

“I just tried to focus on my position and put her in the right spots,” she said. “It seems we do a lot better when I trust her and let her do her job.”

Rodeo’s a unique sport in that the contestants must rely on animals to succeed. In the three roughstock events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding – scores are based on a 100-point scale, with half the score coming from the animal. Waylon Bourgeios and Richmond Champion shared the bareback riding title with matching 85.5-point rides, while Stu Wright posted an 87.5 to win saddle bronc riding.

His nephew, Stetson, is the winningest cowboy competing today with eight gold buckles, five of which have come in the all-around category. Stetson Wright won Rooftop Rodeo’s bull riding, posting the highest marking of the six-day rodeo, an 88-point ride on Cervi Rodeo’s Theodore.

In the timed events, the fastest runs in each discipline take the titles.

The biggest names in ProRodeo make their way to Estes Park every summer. They want all the perks the town has to offer, and they want the big bucks that are available at Rooftop Rodeo.

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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