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Ute Mountain Roundup will light up Montezuma fairgrounds

Stetson Wright aboard Big Papa at the Ute Mountain Roundup rodeo in Cortez in 2022. (Jessica Potter/PRCA photographer)
The UMR will feature world champion, live music and carnival; parade is Saturday

The 93rd annual Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo will showcase top professional rodeo talent, live music and a carnival this week to kick off the summer at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds.

The gates will open Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and the rodeo will begin at 7 p.m. at the fairgrounds, at 30100 U.S. Highway 160 on the eastern edge of Cortez. The rodeo runs through Saturday.

A parade is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday on Montezuma Avenue.

This family-friendly, excitement-filled weekend will feature Powder River Rodeo’s animal athletes, who will be matched against some of the region;s and country’s top cowboys as members of the community enjoy America’s “first extreme sport.”

Powder River Rodeo, under Hank and Lori Franzen, is an award-winning PRCA contractor. They won the PRCA Remuda award in 2019.

Some of the rodeo competitors include World All-Around Leader, saddle bronc and bull riding world champion Stetson Wright, who will compete on Thursday. His record-breaking brothers Rusty, Ryder and Statler Wright will be competing as well.

All the Wright brothers will be available for rodeo-fan autographs Thursday, June 8 at 6 p.m. at the UMR booth. Other competitors will be present to sign autographs throughout the course of the weekend as well.

Other big-name competitors who will be competing for the UMR championship include Navajo legend Derrick Begay in team roping on Friday, Colorado barrel racer Shali Lord on Friday and women’s Rodeo World Championship Commissioner Linsay Rosser-Sumpter on Saturday.

Other acts include Jessica Blair Fowlkes with her “daring, high-speed acts with her team of horses.”

The rodeo is hosted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and will offer a purse of $35,500 to the rodeo champion.

Each night of the rodeo will have a theme. Thursday is “Honor First Responders,” Friday is “Remembering Our Western Heritage,” and Saturday is “Honor Our Military.”

The family-friendly Frazier Carnival will be at the fairgrounds as well, and will feature carnival food and rides for all ages. Other fun events for children at the rodeo include nightly stick horse races and mutton busting.

Derrick Begay competes in the team roping event during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 2015. (The Associated Press)
A young cowboy competes in the Ute Mountain Roundup’s mutton busting competition. (Matt Denetclaw/Courtesy photo)
The Ferris wheel at Frazier Carnival stands out against the sunset at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. (Journal file photo)

Sign-ups for stick horse races and mutton busting take place at 6:30 inside the rodeo grounds.

After the rodeo, there will be a nightly after-party for the whole family, featuring live music from various bands, including Kamino Cowboys, Flashback and Midnight Backhand at Blondie’s Trophy Room tent.

Before the nightly rodeo performance on Friday, golfers can sign up to compete in the 10th Annual Rob Yates Memorial Golf Tournament in honor of former UMR board member Rob Yates, who died in an avalanche in 2013.

The tournament will take place on the morning of June 9, with sign-ups opening at 7 a.m. for $35. Breakfast will be provided for those in attendance, and the tournament will begin at 8 a.m.

The UMR rodeo has been voted the best annual event of Cortez and Montezuma County for the past five years. Over the past 15 years, the UMR has invested over $250,000 into infrastructure at the fairgrounds to make it a place where the rodeo community in the Four Corners can thrive.

“The UMR has a longstanding commitment to improving the Montezuma County Fairgrounds that serve as the home to our annual rodeo. In addition to the rodeo, the fairground hosts around 90 other events, workshops and meetings each year that are attended by community members from Cortez, Colorado, and the entire surrounding Four Corners region,” the news release from UMR said.

They also hope to encourage young people in the area to invest in the rodeo as well.

“We also enjoy supporting local youth sports teams, band and high school rodeo,” they added.

Rodeo tickets can be purchased online at https://utemountain.saffire.com/p/tickets.