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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

71st Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo set for July 2-4

Photo courtesy Diana Talbot
Bull riding is one of the most popular events at the Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo, which celebrates its 71st anniversary this year.

By Lisa Scott
Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo

The Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo is celebrating its 71st anniversary. Cowboys and cowgirls from various states will compete for prizes and prize money in this sanctioned rodeo series. The rodeos are July 2 at 6 p.m. and July 3 at 6 p.m., and July 4 at 2 p.m., and presented at the Western Heritage Event Center arena and grounds.

This traditional American rodeo is a must-see event. More rodeo information is available by visiting the website, www.pagosarodeo.com, or calling (970) 264-2730. Tickets are available online on the website and at the gate prior to the event. A limited number of box seats are available and can be purchased by calling (970) 749-3492 after June 10. 

Traditional rodeo events are presented with a variety of exhibition events to make a varied and entertaining American rodeo experience. Each performance begins with an impressive grand entry with flags waving from westerners on horseback. The rodeo clown offers a variety of comedy throughout the event.

Cowpokes, 6 years and younger, will test their strength and stamina by riding a sheep as long as they can hold on in the mutton bustin’ event. This contest is held daily with 10 new contestants each leaving the arena with a special trophy and the overall winner receiving the authentic rodeo belt buckle. See the website for how to register.

While there were rodeos in Pagosa Springs dating back into beginning of the century, the first Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo was 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 expressed 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 70 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.

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