For a youngster that dreams of being a rodeo competitor, the Greeley Stampede Kids Rodeo has to be one of the high points of your year. It is really a treat for the kids to compete at the Greeley Stampede. It is fun for the younger kids, but the older ones understand just how special it is to be competing on the arena floor at the Greeley Stampede. To compete in the arena where your heroes compete is a real thrill for the older competitors.
Almost all Pro rodeos in the area have some token event for the kids. Most have a quick Mutton Busting at "half time." The Greeley Stampede is unique in that it has a full kids rodeo which has been put on as a community event since 1972.
The Greeley Stampede has a Kid's Rodeo that has events for kids as young as three on up to the horse and bull riding for 19-year-old seniors. Ron Wildeman, Stampede General Chairman, says, "We are kind of unique in that not many cities and organizations put on a kid's rode of this size. Many of the kids that enter come from southern Wyoming and South West Nebraska. There are even kids from new Mexico and Kansas."
"These kids are traveling a long distance to take part in a kids rodeo." said Wildeman, "It's because we are one of the few events of this size that hosts something like this for kids. We run more than 200 kids through as many as four different events. They can enter multiple events - and that's something that no one else does either."
The younger kids are able to compete in Recreational Mutton Busting, Goat Tail Pull and Stick Pony Race. For the kids that are a little older, the events include Boot Scramble and Goat Tail Tying. Then there are the "speed" events that more closely resemble adult events and require contestants provide their own horses. The "speed" events are Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Flag Race, Keyhole Race, and Goat Tie-down. These events have two age groupings, 12 and under and 13 to 19.
The Bull Riding competition is put on by a local Junior Bull Riding Association. Their event classifications begin with Competitive Mutton Busting and progress from calves through steers, young bulls, and finally to seasoned bucking bulls. What category a competitor is in depends on their age. Safety for the youngsters is a primary consideration and there are at least two experienced bull fighters in the arena for all rides.
During the Greeley Stampede, there is simultaneous action everywhere on the arena floor - the young kids are going on the straight portion of the arena, the bull riders are competing from the chutes, and the horse events are entering from the gate that the professional barrel racers use.
It is not an easy job to put on a kids event of this magnitude. Dick Davis, Greeley Stampede Rodeo Chairman explains why it is so important to continue this program. "We feel that it is important for the kids to have a place to come do this. They do love to rodeo and they are up-and-coming world champions. The kids have to start somewhere and we think that this is a good place for them to start."
"We also think it is important to include the littler kids that are 5- or 6-years-old." said Davis, "That gives them a chance to participate along with bigger brother or sister. That gives them a chance to participate in the rodeo, where they otherwise might not have been able to."
One of the really great things about the kids Rodeo is that it is family entertainment at no charge for the younger kids and all the fans. "We had Kaiser Permanente step up and sponsor the Kids Rodeo and that's the reason that we had basically a free day, because Kaiser Permanente stepped up with sponsorship." said Dick Davis.
There are small entry fees for the "speed" events and the bull riding. An effort is made to have these events be preparation for the real thing as the kids get older and get their PRCA Permit Cards. So these events have cash payouts and also award buckles. Tractor Supply and Comfort Dental were the buckle sponsors.
Whether the Kids Rodeo is held during the day or evening is pretty much at the mercy of the calendar because the rodeo committee has to start from July 4th and work from there. Night is much better because it is cooler and it allows working parents to attend without missing any work.
This year was a night event and Ron Wildeman, Dick Davis and the Stampede staff went all out to not only provide a realistic experience for the kids, but to give the many fans a great view with video cameras covering each of the three sections of the arena floor, and three large high definition screens.
There is a tremendous amount of preparation and organization that has to happen to keep the Greeley Stampede Kids Rodeo running smoothly. Hats off to the Stampede, the ground crews, volunteers and to all the sponsors that make the Kids Rodeo unique and the best that there is.