Rodeo 101 teaches kids rodeo tips and tricks, pushes for more participation in future |

Rodeo 101 teaches kids rodeo tips and tricks, pushes for more participation in future

Case Leffler, 4, of Eaton rides the mechanical bull at the Rodeo 101 event Sunday at the Greeley Stampede Event Center mini arena. Kids had the opportunity to learn rodeo tips and tricks from Colorado State University Rodeo Club members during the event.
Allison Dyer Bluemel/ |

James Drake operates a mechanical bull at the Greeley Stampede. He said there were quite a few people who tried their hand at the mechanical bull on the opening day of the Greeley Stampede.

» How often do people stay on the mechanical bull? I’ve never seen anyone stay on. They get too tired.

» What ride do you want to go on? The Ferris wheel.

» How would you spend $1,000 at the Greeley Stampede? I’d spend it on the foods and rodeo.

At the Greeley Stampede’s Rodeo 101 program, little kids get the chance to learn the tips and tricks used by the big kids in the big arena.

The event, which is taught and sponsored by the Colorado State University Rodeo Club, teaches kids the basics of roping, bull riding, bronco riding and barrel racing.

“It helps them gain a better understanding of what the big kids are doing out in the arena and increases their knowledge of the rodeo,” club member Sierra Talley said.

The club set up at the Stampede Event Center mini-arena at Island Grove Regional Park, is complete with green turf, miniature barrels, stick horses and bulls, a mechanical bull and steel roping dummy.

The event initially had a set schedule for Saturday and Sunday afternoon, but it became a more casual opportunity for families to stop by when they wanted, Talley said.

“It feels good to be helping out to get them started,” she said.

Many of the boys and girls who stopped by have aspirations of becoming cowboys and cowgirls when they’re older, even if their families don’t have rodeo backgrounds, Talley said.

It allows kids who are too young or not experienced enough for other events to participate in the Stampede and be a part of Western lifestyle, said Katie Folkerts of Broomfield.

Folkerts’ daughter, 3-year-old Greta, insisted the family come to the Stampede for her birthday to see the horses.

“It gives the kids a way to branch out beside their normal everyday activities,” said Kimi Keys, who came to Greeley with her 9-year-old grandson, CJ, from Bartlesville, Okla. “Some days he likes to try new things.”

Despite only having a few days experience in some cases, many of the kids who stop by show promise for becoming serious rodeo competitors in the future if they stick with it, Talley said.

“It turns into a kind of recruiting event,” club member Noah Dennison said.

Over the past decade, there has been a sharp decline in younger competitors in rodeo as sports such as lacrosse become more popular, Dennison said.

“This is a great opportunity to get out and show the community the advances in the sport,” he said.

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