“There’s a lot of heritage right here in Craig. There’s a pretty good history of quality bronc riders right here in Moffat County, and we’re trying to bring a little bit of it back.”
— Don Hayes, liaison between Moffat County and the Rocky Mountain Bronc Riders Association
There once was a time when the bronc riding heritage in Moffat County rivaled many other Colorado counties and western states.
But with the popularity of the Professional Bull Riders circuit, aspiring rodeo professionals have become specialized athletes in their quest for the PBR’s prize money, resulting in a decline of bronc riders around the country.
Local Craig residents are looking to build off of the PBR’s national popularity and renew Moffat County’s place as the epicenter of the rodeo world by bringing a Rocky Mountain Bronc Riders Association competition to Craig.
“There’s a lot of heritage right here in Craig,” Don Hayes, liaison between the county and the Rocky Mountain Bronc Riders Association, said. “There’s a pretty good history of quality bronc riders right here in Moffat County and we’re trying to bring a little bit of it back.”
Craig resident Glenda Bellio joined Hayes during Tuesday’s Moffat County Commission meeting to reserve the Moffat County Fairgrounds on June 9 for the competition and to ask commissioners to waive the $275 rental fee.
In their pitch, Bellio and Hayes outlined an event that will feature 25-35 professional, ranch and rookie bronc riders associated with the Rocky Mountain Bronc Riders Association based in Encampment, Wyo.
Amateur riders from throughout the region will also be invited to compete.
In addition, Bellio said her vision is for a family friendly event that will include a sheep hooking competition and a dance following the all day event.
“I really want to push the family aspect,” Bellio said. “We are trying to do this in the most cost effective way possible to make this an affordable event for the community.”
Hayes told the commissioners sheep hooking is the process of immobilizing an ewe to provide she and her lamb an opportunity to bond in instances where it does not occur naturally.
Sheep hooking is done on foot or on horseback, Hayes said. The June event will provide local sheep ranchers with an opportunity to showcase both sets of skills.
And because sheep hooking is less dangerous than riding and roping, Hayes is hoping to provide spectators with opportunity to try it on foot.
“There’s no better way to introduce people to our ranching heritage than to give them the chance to try it themselves,” Hayes said.
The commission approved the rental fee waiver, 2-0.
Hayes estimates the cost of the event to run between $6,500 and $8,000. $3,500 is going to the Rocky Mountain Bronc Riders Association and $1,500 has been budgeted for advertising. The rest of the money will be used for purse money, cleanup, security and vendors.
Currently, Hayes is shopping for sponsors and volunteers from Craig’s social groups.
“We want to this to be as self-sufficient as possible and we’re planning to kick back a percentage of the proceeds to our sponsors if we are able to do so,” Hayes said. “We’re hoping to accumulate a little seed money as well to make Craig an annual stop for the Bronc Riders Association.”
With the commission’s approval Tuesday, Hayes said the event scheduled for June 9 “is a go.”
For more information on the event, sponsorship opportunities or how to volunteer, contact Hayes at 846-9233 or Bellio at 824-8621.
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