Weather wipes out Cedaredge grandstand; Local club seeking funds to build it back up
May 27, 2014
Longtime Cedaredge, Colo., resident Marge Bertram has spent much of her life sitting in the local grandstands — understandable, considering three generations of her family have been active in the Little Britches Rodeo.
"My daughter, Connie (Frost) won three saddles in a row in Cedaredge — one in 1965, '66 and '67," she recalled from her comfortable living room. Marge continues to support her great-granddaughter, Alyssa, during competitions.
This season, however, it might be much harder for spectators to find seats while they watch their children compete.
Just last month, after 54 years, the wooden Cedaredge grandstand was torn down.
Now, with the cost of a new, aluminum model hovering around $11,000, members of the Surface Creek Saddle Club have started working to raise the needed cash.
"It was the March 30 microburst that finally did the grandstand in," explained Kacy Stillings, president of the Surface Creek Saddle Club, Inc. "We had a strong, twisting wind with rain that day that took portions of the roof off, leaving other portions with tin twisted and hanging. The damage was so great, and the liability so high, that we had to tear the whole thing down."
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Since wood tends to rot, the decision to go with an aluminum structure has been made, but "the cost is incredible. Just the seating alone for a larger set of grandstands would run $60,000. That does not include the covering. We'll have to settle for bleachers now," if the money can be raised.
The original grandstand was built primarily by locals, with a little help from prisoners detained in the Delta Correctional Institution.
"They had an 'honor camp' back then. Men who had followed the rules earned time outside," said Connie.
In order to start funding a new one, "We've applied for grants. That could make up the biggest part of it," but they won't know about acceptance until the end of May.
The Surface Creek Saddle Club, which manages the grounds, will be putting together bake sales and tack sales throughout the spring and summer to raise money, as well. In addition, they plan to sponsor a benefit Team Roping Contest. The date has not been set, but will be posted in the Fence Post calendar.
The Little Britches Rodeo has been an important — not to mention highly popular — event in this tiny mountain town since it began in 1959. According to the official rule book, it is not only "one of the oldest, continuing junior rodeo associations in the nation, but it is also the largest, with membership from Canada to Texas and from the west coast to the eastern states."
With events that include bull and saddle bronc riding, pole bending, calf roping, goat tying, barrel racing, team roping, bulldogging, and a trail course, its goal is to "develop within the youthful contestant a spirit of fair competition and appreciation of good sportsmanship."
The age groups are divided, with 5–8 year-old boys and girls competing as "Little Wranglers;" ages 9 – 13 as Juniors; and ages 14–18, seniors.
But the Cedaredge rodeo grounds are not limited to Little Britches competitions.
"4-H groups and other clubs use it for clinics and demonstrations," concluded Kacy.
It is also the base for weekly gymkhanas.
"It's critical to our community. We really need to get new seating." ❖