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Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo rides into Cortez Thursday

Three-day event features fun for all ages
Local cowboy Tanner Lockhart competes in the saddle bronc riding at the 2017 Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo.

The 88th annual Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo starts Thursday at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds.

Every year, the rodeo pits professionals against one another in a wide variety of sports sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association. This year, a few new events will grace the fairgrounds’ outdoor arena, along with returning activities such as barrel racing and bull riding. The rodeo starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, but family activities, including the Frazier Carnival, will start Wednesday and last through Sunday.

Rodeo board member Ranette Karo said the biggest new attraction will be the American Bullfighting Tour, a group of three performers who compete to survive for 40 seconds in the ring with a bull while entertaining an audience. Bullfighters are awarded points based on their ability to avoid them as well as the bulls’ ferocity. Karo described the event as being similar to a rodeo clown performance, complete with acrobatics and flamboyant costumes.

Bullfights will be held after the bull riding competitions on Thursday and Friday nights.

Several of last year’s big-name rodeo competitors will return this year, including Aaron Tsinigine, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion team roper in 2015. Two-time PRCA world champion saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy and Ivy Conrado, last year’s winning barrel racer, at the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo.

For families with young children, rodeo week will start at the Cortez Public Library on Wednesday, with a free kids’ rodeo event at 10 a.m. Carnival rides open at the fairgrounds at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Each night of rodeo competitions has a different theme, starting with the annual Military Appreciation Night on Thursday, when guests are encouraged to wear red, white and blue. Friday will be First Responders Night, and Karo said the organizers will honor Montezuma County law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel. Rodeo organizers tentatively plan to bring a firetruck into the arena for a ceremony in honor of first responders.

On Saturday, Rodeo Heritage Night will honor the history of rodeo.

“It’s based around Western heritage, the Western way of life,” Karo said.

She added that the night will include a time to honor the family of former rodeo leader Carl Armstrong, who died in February at age 90.

In addition to the main rodeo competitions, the Roundup Rodeo includes the fifth annual Rob Yates Memorial Cowboy Golf Tournament, starting at the Conquistador Golf Course at 8 a.m. Friday.

The rodeo parade will march down Montezuma Avenue in Cortez on Saturday afternoon. The parade has previously run on Main Street, but Karo said the venue was changed because median construction was originally scheduled to start in early June. Construction has been pushed back to June 18 to give the city time to finish its required surveys, Cortez Public Works Director Phil Johnson said.

Another change this year is an increase in ticket prices. Last year, adult tickets started at $15 online, and the rodeo included a family night with prices starting at $9 for children. This year, online tickets start at $16 for adults and $12 for children, and there will be no special family night prices. Karo said the price increase was an attempt to deal with rising production costs.

“With the specialty acts that come in, the announcers ... everything goes up for us each year,” she said.

Organizer Dina Guttridge said in an email that about 5,500 spectators and 300 to 500 contestants attend the three-day Roundup Rodeo, and 2,000-3,000 people visit the carnival each night. Only 500 tickets have been sold for the 2018 rodeo, but Guttridge said she expects additional sales the week of the event.

Tickets are available at utemountainroundup.org and at the gate.

Rodeo Schedule

A schedule of events for the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo, June 7-11.

Wednesday, June 6

10 a.m.:

Free kids rodeo event at Cortez Public Library.

5 p.m.:

Frazier Carnival opens at Montezuma County Fairgrounds. Unlimited ride wristbands are $20.

Thursday, June 7

5-10 p.m.:

Carnival opens.

7 P.m.:

Military Appreciation Night rodeo begins at Montezuma County Fairgrounds. Adult tickets are $16 online or $18 cash only. Child tickets are $12 online or $14 at the gate.

Friday, June 8

7 a.m.:

Breakfast and signup for Rob Yates Memorial Cowboy Golf Tournament at Conquistador Golf Course. Call Marti Spitzer at 970-739-0447 or Micah Rudowsky at 970-565-9208 for more information.

8 a.m.:

Tournament begins.

5-11 p.m.:

Carnival opens.

7 p.m.:

First Responder Night rodeo begins.

Saturday, June 9

1 p.m.:

Rodeo parade begins on Montezuma Avenue, Cortez. Entry forms are available at the Colorado Welcome Center. The deadline for entries is June 8.

5 p.m.-12 a.m.:

Carnival opens.

7 p.m.:

Rodeo Heritage Night rodeo begins.

Sunday, June 10

1-6 p.m.:

Carnival opens.

To buy tickets or find out more about the event, go to



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