Rain or shine, the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo brings a crowd
Colorado Springs’ residents showed in 2012 that devastating fires wouldn’t prevent them from turning out in droves to support the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo and its long-standing mission of backing local military charities.
As a result, last year’s five performances saw several sellout crowds and near sellouts for the others.
The worst 2013 could bring was some welcome rain on the weekend, so it was no surprise when the stands overflowed with more than 25,000 spectators from July 10-13.
Designated as a Wrangler Million Dollar Silver Tour Rodeo, the scenic venue offered a purse of more than $200,000 and had the high-reputation Harry Vold Rodeo Company supplying stock, once again.
The combination of the two made it attractive to competitors hitting a July string of good-paying rodeos in the Mountain States Circuit, especially for those contestants hailing from the Rocky Mountain region itself.
“It’s nice to go to a big rodeo in your home state,” said Severance, Colo., bareback rider Tyler Scales, who made a successful ride in front of a cheering Saturday afternoon crowd. “They’re close to home and they’ve got big money added, so you can make good money at them. My goal is to win the circuit and do good at those big rodeos.”
Fellow bareback rider Richie Champion wasn’t a local cowboy, but his goal was similar, and he backed it up by earning the win and the $5,935 that came with it.
The Texas cowboy drew a bronc that had previously bucked him off at the College National Finals in Casper, Wyo., but he relished another opportunity to get aboard Harry Vold Rodeo’s Little Linda.
After scoring 87-points on their rematch, Champion lived up to his name.
“I knew I made a good ride,” he told ProRodeo.com. “She did her job and I did mine.”
Talking about his win, Champion praised the Colorado Springs rodeo.
“It’s a full house and an exciting rodeo,” he added. “It’s awesome to win there.”
That full house included seating capacity in the covered stands for about 5,500 plus room for hundreds more willing to stand and watch in a covered area behind the timed-event chutes.
When full, like it was throughout 2013’s performances, the atmosphere in dry or wet conditions was loud and enthusiastic; something contestants noticed and appreciated.
“It’s a good crowd and they are really involved in it,” described Taos Muncy, a New Mexico saddle bronc cowboy with multiple PRCA world titles on his resume.
Muncy competed in Colorado Springs as part of a successful week riding in Wyoming and Colorado, adding a Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo buckle with his 86-point ride aboard Little Miss in the first performance Wednesday night.
The experienced competitor witnessed the big crowds on hand and liked what they brought to the table.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Muncy said of competing in front of a large, vocal crowd. “It was jam-packed. I knew the sides of the arena were jam-packed, but on the other end by the roping box, I looked over there this year and there was a ton of people over there, too.”
Muncy not only liked the atmosphere, he liked his winning ride.
“I had a nice horse called Little Miss,” he began on the topic. “We circled around to the left and stayed close to the bucking chutes. It was just a nice horse, everyone loves getting on horses like that. I knew I had a good ride, but … I was a little nervous. I thought I might just place. When I found out I had actually won it, I was pretty tickled.”
Kirsten Vold of Harry Vold Rodeo Company was also tickled about Muncy’s performance.
The stock contracting outfit has worked with the Pikes Peak or Bust committee for over 40 years, and she enjoyed seeing top contestants like the two-time PRCA saddle bronc champ arrive on the scene for the rodeo’s 73rd year.
“He did such a phenomenal spur ride on her that he made her a better horse than she normally is,” complimented Vold regarding Muncy’s winning effort. “That just goes to show you that the cowboys can really make the animals in either direction. They can take a 17-point horse and make them a 20-point horse just by helping them. And Taos proved that.”
The solid performances in the arena and the crowds jamming the stands no matter the weather proved the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo’s hard work over the last decade has made it a hit with the local community.
“We just try to put on a quality show,” explained Vold about the focus behind the scenes to pull in ticket buyers each year. “I would have to say that I have noticed the changes (the rodeo committee has made) in the last five years with the product. It’s a great product, it really is. It is tight. It runs smooth. It runs fast.”
Her description of why people are showing up in sizeable numbers to the venue wasn’t limited to rodeo action.
“I think the addition of the Western Heritage Days activities on the outside has been a huge asset,” Vold said about the variety of Western and family-friendly events and amusements the rodeo committee has made available to the public. “People can leave work and they can come there and eat and take their kids to the pony rides.
“It is not just a rodeo, it is an event. It is in the same location. It is the same rodeo, but it is a new rodeo with a whole new face lift. I think the people have responded. They enjoy it. They go back and tell people, ‘I had a great time at the rodeo.’” ❖
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.