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Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo, a must-see event

This year marks the 63rd anniversary of the Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo.

While there were rodeos in Pagosa Springs dating back to the beginning of the last century, the first Red Ryder Roundup® Rodeo was held in 1949.

In 1948, a group of local ranchers organized an effort to start a regular named rodeo series for this town. The initial group of volunteers included Glen Edmonds, Fred Harman, Daily Hott, Leon Montroy, Terry Robinson and Babe Shahan, to name a few. They collaborated with the owner of the rights to the Red Ryder registered trademark to brand this rodeo with the cartoon character that is so famous in this region.

In 1949, the first rodeo was held at the site of the current Ross Aragon Community Center. Photographs show how automobiles were placed in a large circular formation to create the boundary of the rodeo arena. Spectators stood behind the cars.

Later that year, the committee advertised and sold stock in the rodeo organization, named Pagosa Springs Enterprises, and raised $15,000. With these proceeds, approximately 40 acres of land was purchased for the express use of hosting the annual rodeo.

That initial site continues as the current facility on the corner of U.S. 84 and Mill Creek Road.

Construction of a rodeo arena with wood boards and woven wire was accomplished just prior to the 1950 Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo. Over time, the structures that exist on the rodeo grounds today were constructed as additional stock was sold for the purpose of raising money and creating a supporting membership.

For over 60 years, this organization has been run by local dedicated volunteers, funded with individual and business donations from the local community, and continues to be an independent, self-sustaining and successful entity.

In the mid-1990s, the organization obtained its nonprofit status and renamed the organization the Western Heritage Event Center, whose mission is to provide an annual three-day Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo, as well as a year-round venue for education and training for youth, and equestrian events for Archuleta County. The Western Heritage Board is dedicated to preserving the history and traditions of the American West.

Join the fun as cowboys and cowgirls from various states compete for prizes and prize money in this sanctioned rodeo series.

The rodeos are Wednesday, July 4, at 2 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Western Heritage Event Center arena and grounds.

Tickets are available at Goodman’s Department Store and at the gate prior to the event. The cost is $10 per adult and $6 for children 12 and under. A limited number of box seats are available and can be purchased by calling 264-5000. A variety of concessions are available throughout the events.

This traditional American rodeo is a must-see event.

More rodeo information is available by calling 264-2730.

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