MSRR has grown quickly since its start in 2015
for The Fence Post
The Mountain States Ranch Rodeo was something the community needed and wanted, and all it took was a conversation.
Kent Wollert and Doug Roberts started the MSRR only three years ago, after the pair got to talking about a ranch rodeo series in Montrose, Colo. The ranch rodeo this year ran Sept. 8-10, with the rodeo split between the first two days.
The 2016, MSRR was the first time the ranch rodeo was the final for a series of 11 sanctioned ranch rodeos — only nine were held, though, due to weather cancellations — in western Colorado. This year’s finals jumped to 16 teams, and Wollert said he sees that as a sign the ranch rodeo is quickly growing.
“We’re definitely growing and expanding and seeing a lot more interest,” he said.
This year’s MSRR featured nine teams that qualified through sanctioned ranch rodeos for MSRR, along with seven other teams.
Wollert and Roberts are both businessmen. Wollert owns Wollert Automotive and Big Country Trailers and Roberts owns New West Marketing. That business background was vital in establishing the ranch rodeo.
In fact, the pair conceived the idea when Roberts went to buy a trailer from Wollert. They got to talking, and decided they would start a ranch rodeo in Montrose.
“We both were talking about a real absence (of a ranch rodeo on the Western Slope),” Roberts said.
They knew there would be interest, but someone had to start it.
“I guess that would be us,” Roberts said.
So the pair put their business minds together, and with Wollert’s ranch rodeo background, they were able to host the MSRR in 2015. Planning started in January or February of that first year.
One of the most unique aspects of a ranch rodeo are the events. Rather than the traditional events, such as bull riding, the events are part of ranchers’ day-to-day duties.
Plus, ranch rodeos are team events which brings a very different mentality than that of single-cowboy events at traditional rodeos.
Plus the schedule allows ranchers to participate. With MSRR they only need to win one sanctioned ranch rodeo to qualify for MSRR. Plus, score totals help decide the final group of teams to qualify.
Wollert had experience with ranch rodeos prior to MSRR as a participant. He grew up on a ranch in southeast Colorado, and competed when his ranch was involved in rodeos.
Now that he’s in the Montrose area, he has another ranch, Alpine Ranch, which participated in this year’s MSRR. Last year the team took second place.
HONORING THEIR OWN
Last year, the community surrounding MSRR lost one of its own. Jerry Cobb was highly involved in the community, helping with the MSRR and in any other way he could.
“Jerry was a longtime rancher/farmer,” Roberts said. “He grew up in western Colorado. He was always quick to support with saddles or contributions or anyway he could support the community.”
To honor him, last year Roberts and Wollert started the Jerry Cobb Top Hand Memorial Award. The award goes to the cowboy who is the best all-around, but it’s not only about their performance.
“It’s not solely driven off of skills, it’s measured as well by who they are as individuals,” Roberts said.
It’s a small way to honor a man who, as Roberts put it, “left a great void.”
Wollert and Roberts have worked to grow the MSRR since day one. This year’s 16 teams is a jump from last year’s 12. And there’s still room for growth.
As it is, MSRR is already the “largest and richest ranch rodeo series in the Western Slope,” Roberts said. Last year’s attendance was about 3,800 during the finals.
Wollert expects that to jump by at least 1,200. What helps is this year the finals were spit between two days. Last year it was only one.
With 16 teams, and finals starting on a Friday evening, there wasn’t enough time to get through all the events in one day. To accomidate, half of the teams competed in two of the five events Friday night with the other half completing three of the events. On Saturday the teams flipped the number of events they needed to complete.
“I think, it’s becoming an event that just has nowhere but up to go. The ranch rodeo is real popular,” Wollert said.
His goal is for the stands to be completely full for the finals. Wollert said it would be a real honor to see that.
“In the long-term this is going to be something that’s really good for the city and county of Montrose,” he said.
The goal, that coincides with MSRR success, is for the yearly event to become something people plan their summer around. If people start annually attending the MSRR from around the state of Colorado and beyond, that’s going to make a big impact.
And Wollert said he believes it will get there.
While it was a two-man idea, Roberts won’t take the credit for MSRR being where it is now.
“Kent is the driver of the ranch rodeo. … I’m never going to tell you I am,” Roberts said. “He was the genesis of putting the Mountain States Ranch Rodeo together.” ❖
— Samantha Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at (970) 392-4410, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@FoxonaFarm.
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