In its 13th year of being a ranch rodeo sanctioned by the Working Ranch Cowboys Association, the Colorado Championship Ranch Rodeo (CCRR) in Hugo, Colo., was at its best.
Hundreds of people from the small town and surrounding area arrived over the weekend of June 27-28 to take in the sights and sounds of genuine cowboys taking part in events designed to show off their skills and the horses they ride.
“I thought it was a great year,” said rodeo secretary Tina Waite. “Probably our best year, yet.”
Asked what made it such a success this year, Waite thought adding to the Western feel with a chuck wagon cooking competition made a big difference.
“We (pre-sold) 200 tickets to feed people at the chuck wagons,” she said about the cooking contest that had six authentic wagons serving up meat, potatoes, bread, beans and peach cobblers. “That was an extra group of people that don’t normally come.”
“That’s a good thing,” Waite added. “We just thought we’d give it a try this year and I think it is going to work. It turned out pretty good (and) everybody was pleased with it.”
While the public turned out by the hundreds for a chance to eat some old west, cowboy style cooking, the chuck wagon crews started early in the day to make the taste memorable.
“You’re against some of the best cooks around,” said Royce Pindell from the overall winning Lizzie II chuck wagon, run by Rex and Sheryl Wailes from Bennett, Colo. “Most all of these people do catering. If they’re good enough to cater, then someone pays them to do this, and we go up against everyone having good recipes. I’ve never seen a bad meal come out of a chuck wagon in all the competitions we take part in.”
Ticket buyers seemed to agree with Pindell’s assessment as they eagerly accepted plenty of food from every wagon in the cookoff. Judging by the array of empty dutch ovens at the conclusion of the event, it is safe to say everyone left satisfied.
“I think it went really, really well for a first time deal,” offered Delbert “Doc” Jones, who was asked by CCRR to organize the chuck wagon competition for them. “They exceeded their expectations.”
“I was thrilled to death with the wagons, the crews, everything,” he said after the contest was finished. “It’s a real thrill for a lot of people. It’s something new and it’s something neat.”
There was always something neat going on inside the arena, as well. Real cowboys from working ranches came to the rodeo to try their hands at events like wild-cow milking, team doctoring, team branding, sorting and ranch bronc riding.
“I think it’s great because it gets to show everybody all the hard work these guys put in day in and day out,” said Jessica Mosher, who comes from a dyed in the wool ranch and rodeo family in Karval, Colo. Mosher was not only a cowgirl interested in watching the ranch events, she was also one of the “pick up men” inside the arena during the bronc riding, a job she’s held down in numerous rodeos over the last number of years.
“It gets to showcase their skills and their horses, too,” Mosher continued, as she answered questions behind the scenes. “You’ve got good food (and) good entertainment. I think it’s great all the way around.”
On top of the ranch rodeo events, there was also a ranch horse show. Cowboys who entered their horses would perform a reining pattern in the arena, which was immediately followed by working a cow. With two divisions for horses, senior (6 years old and over) and junior (5 years or younger), the horse show was a great way to see gorgeous and smart ranch horses in action.
“We had 30 horses last year and we had 43 this year,” said Waite about the increasing numbers of cowboys that want to work their horses in a competitive setting. “They make some pretty nice horses. Those guys have pretty good skills.”
While they all want to win each event, these types of rodeos are as much fun for the cowboys as they are work.
“It’s like a mini-vacation (for them),” added Waite about the good times cowboys have at ranch rodeos. “All the branding is done and everything is turned out to summer country and they can kind of take a weekend off and come have some fun.”
After 13 years of working with a dedicated committee to host a sanctioned ranch rodeo in Hugo, Waite was asked what she might say to anyone who has thought about attending, but hasn’t yet shown up for the event.
“It’s just different than a regular rodeo,” she explained about its draw. “People get to see pictures of cowboys, but they never really get to see cowboys in action, so this kind of gives them a chance to do this. It’s about keeping the heritage alive.” ❖