Rounding it up
82nd Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo sets attendance record
By Bobby Abplanalp
Journal Sports Editor
The Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo concluded for the 82nd time last Thursday through Saturday.
As one of the longest standing rodeos in the Old West, the Ute Mountain Roundup appears primed for another 82 years.
Fans flocked to the grandstand at Bob Banks Memorial Arena for three days. Like last year, folks came to see cowpokes ride, buck, rope and wrestle livestock at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds in record setting fashion. Not only was a new attendance record set, breaking last year’s mark, the Ute Mountain Roundup roped in a new contestant record as well.
“We have a great committee here. They step up to the plate every year,” said new Ute Mountain Roundup chairman Rob Yates. “It’s been a great year. Last year, we topped our attendance. This year, we’re topping it again.”
Colorado cowboys Casey Colletti (Pueblo) and Tyler Scales (Fort Collins) flew in late Saturday night from Oregon to compete at one of their favorite venues.
“We grew up here high school rodeoing,” Scales said. “We’re from Colorado, so it’s kind of like coming home. We like the local crowd. We got some friends and family that are proud.”
The 26-year-old Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association travel partners took advantage of their old stomping grounds. They tied for the top overall score in bareback riding with 78 each.
For Colletti, things didn’t start smoothly, as he had difficulty galloping out of the chute on the angry colt they call, “Duct Tape.”
“It was a little rocky start there at the beginning,” said Colletti with an anxious laugh. “He (Duct Tape) kind of reared up and smashed me in the back end (of the chute). I was kind of a tuck behind. But I was just trying to fight and stay up, hold my feet up, and try and win first. It worked.”
Colletti held on tight and regrouped for an eight-second ride, earning gasps and then cheers of praise from the Cortez crowd.
“It’s pretty cool. I’ve been coming here to Cortez for a long time,” he said. “I haven’t won much money here. It’s pretty cool to finally come here and be the co-champ. It’s pretty cool to come out with a good friend and win.”
Scales concluded the bareback event and nearly outdid his good friend, riding Colorado Coconut. But Scales was plenty happy with a first-place tie and the check that came with it.
“It feels good to win first with one of your best friends,” Scales said. “To finish my weekend out here to win some money, is pretty nice. I always wanted to win this.”
Steer wrestling followed bareback riding. In an event that takes concentration, endurance, technique and momentum, Wheatland, Wyo., native Seth Brockman displayed all of the above with aplomb.
The 29-year-old Wyoming poke shot out of his chute, and roped, wrestled and tied the hefty steer in a speedy 4.2 seconds, smashing this year’s competition.
“I’m riding (travel partner) Wade Sumpter’s good gray horse Two Guns, that I’ve had a lot of success on last year,” Brockman said. “We’re taking him to the rodeos right now. Everything has been going pretty good. We had some fresher steers tonight that no one knew anything about. At the beginning of the run, I nodded, it was kind of a bad gate, the steer turned its head. But I ended up getting a good start and it worked out.”
The arena record is 4 seconds flat. Brockman left Bob Banks Memorial Arena feeling as confident as when he won the Ute Mountain Roundup in 2002 at the old American Legion location.
“Any time you can win a check, let alone first, is good,” said Brockman, who is sponsored by Wyoming Tourism.
For others, the Ute Mountain Roundup is home. Cortez resident Falena Dale has competed in barrel racing the last 15 years at the Ute Mountain Roundup. She has seen the transformation of her home rodeo firsthand.
“It’s a good rodeo. They do a really good job with making it bigger every year,” said Dale, who raced to a time of 18.69 on her horse Dotty.
Although the Ute Mountain Roundup has been one of the more challenging Women’s Pro Rodeo Association competitions for Dale, she stills hopes to one day win in front of the home fans.
“I haven’t won a check at this rodeo. Probably, one of the very few,” she said with a grin. “I don’t know what it is about this rodeo. You just have arenas that your horses do good in and then arenas that they don’t. I keep hoping it will turn around one of these years.”
Dale and many other cowgirls and cowboys are expected to keep coming back to Southwest Colorado. A total payout of $42,309 was distributed to the participating PRCA and WPRA members, which is a Ute Mountain Roundup record.
“We got some great cowboys and cowgirls that came in,” Yates said. “We had a lot of top-15 (in the PRCA) that are in the running for the National Finals (in Las Vegas, Nev.) this year. That gives the fans a good show.”
The Ute Mountain Roundup returns next June.
As they say in the Old West, “Ya’ll come back now, ya hear.”
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at firstname.lastname@example.org.