Fires may have ravaged the Colorado Springs countryside, but flames couldn’t touch the spirit of its residents or the passion of that community. That spirit and passion showed up in droves for the 72nd annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, a Wrangler Silver Tour rodeo that drew sold-out crowds along with hundreds of top cowboys and cowgirls to vie for its $200,000 plus total purse.
Fans in attendance witnessed one of the red-hot cowboys in the sport, bareback rider Steven Dent, add to his total of more than $40,000 over the last three weeks as he rode Harry Vold Rodeo’s Painted Coast for 86 points and a tie for first place with both Casey Colletti and Tanner Aus. Dent was happy with his share of the win and enjoyed the unique atmosphere of the Norris Penrose arena.
“It’s a good rodeo that everybody tries to hit,” said Dent about the venue. “The neat thing about that rodeo is the set up. The fans are really close and those covered deck stands kind of hold the sound in,” he explained. “When the fans get loud there, it really carries down into the arena. It’s always fun to ride in front of a good crowd like that. It’s almost like riding in an indoor rodeo.”
The sold-out crowds were even louder for local cowboys, including Pueblo resident Casey Colletti, who took home a share of first place with 86 points of his own aboard a bucker named Yellow Bear on Friday night.
“I love going there because it is kind of like a hometown rodeo,” said Colletti. “Boyd Polhamus announces the local cowboys and everybody there seems to cheer for the local guys. The crowd is right there close (and) when I got off, it was pretty cool. Everybody was screaming and yelling and cheering. It was pretty awesome.”
Another Mile High State participant, Lamar, Colo., barrel racer Shali Lord, also had good things to say about the Colorado Springs rodeo.
“It was amazing,” Lord enthused about her runs on Saturday afternoon and then Saturday night. “They had sell out crowds. They always put on such a good, high class rodeo. For the barrel race, the crowds are close, but yet the barrels aren’t on the walls,” she added about the environment. “It is really neat (and) such a beautiful setting, right there.”
Asked about her experience running in front of 1,100 Air Force Cadets filling the north stands, her reaction was sincere.
“I think it is awesome,” she described. “It is a cool feeling to have all the military there.”
“It’s a great experience. It really is,” agreed Kirsten Vold of the Harry Vold Rodeo Company, an outfit supplying stock to the Colorado Springs venue for over 40 years. “I know it sounds crazy, but just having their presence there makes you feel safer,” she said with a laugh.
Asked about bringing their stock to the unique Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo arena, Vold praised the location.
“It’s a great arena, it’s a great size,” she offered. “Any time you are in front of a full crowd, it always seems to add more excitement. Everybody seems to bring their A-game. I’ve laughed and said even the animals buck better when they have a full crowd to buck for,” she continued with a smile in her voice. “It’s just human nature. When you hear the roar of a crowd, people just seem to play up to it. We all seem to perform better when there are people there to watch you.”
Another cowboy the big crowd helped was Louisiana steer wrestler Gabe Ledoux, who placed second with 8.5 seconds on two head.
“Yeah, I like the way the stands (are situated there),” said Ledoux. “Shoot, 90 percent of the places we go, there is no one behind us. It seems like there, they are all around you. It’s a pretty neat set up.”
Enjoying the environment seemed to contribute to Ledoux’s success at the Norris Penrose arena.
“It’s been a great rodeo,” he praised. “It seems like I’ve always done well, there. I won it a few years ago (and) I’ve always had good luck, there.”
It wasn’t just participants and thousands of fans enjoying the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo; event organizers were pleased with how things turned out this year, as well.
“We’re very happy with the results of the rodeo,” said Peter Husak, President of the rodeo’s Board of Directors. “We sold out Saturday and Friday nights and basically sold out Saturday day and also Wednesday night. Our rodeo is all about supporting the military charities, so all the proceeds of our rodeo goes to military charities.”
Asked about the designation of being a Wrangler Silver Tour Rodeo, Husak acknowledged the honor.
“We’re about the 35th largest rodeo in the country,” he began on the topic. “To be a Silver Tour rodeo on top of everything else is just huge. We get probably 600 contestants to our rodeo. I think that Silver Tour really adds to the attraction of coming to our rodeo.”
With outstanding community support, proceeds that benefit military charities, excellent stock, top name contestants and a designation as a Wrangler Silver Tour Rodeo, the event has worked its way to being one of the toughest tickets in town.
“I think in the last three or four years, we’ve really turned the corner,” summed up Husak. “We’ve made it a great entertainment venue to where people are showing up and realizing the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is back.” ❖