GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Rodeo, a sport ripe with tradition and excitement, will return to Grand Junction once again this weekend - this time for the 37th annual Colorado Pro Rodeo Finals & Parade Sept. 14-16. Time-honored cowboy tests - like roping and steer wrestling, plus bareback, bronc, bull, and team riding - will play out at the Mesa County Fairgrounds on Highway 50. A Saturday parade on Colorado Avenue, downtown GJ, is also part of the fun. "We're ready to go," Bob Williams, the Sheriff's Posse chairman of the CPRA Finals Rodeo, said. "I hope (the rodeo) makes everyone happy this year. We're sure counting on it."The CPRA Rodeo Finals will be broken into 10 events, each featuring 12 high-ranking contestants competing for year-end championships and lots of prize money. When it all adds up, there'll be 200 participants.Event organizers are additionally shooting for 1,200-1,500 people a day at Mesa County Fairgrounds, though Williams noted that "we'd sure like to have more."The "Hangout," an extra-special place for rodeo attendees to watch events right next to the arena, will also feature a fully-stocked bar and the opportunity to meet rodeo contestants. "You get it all for only $13 more with your general admission ticket and only $10 more with your reserve ticket (all drinks, including beer, are not included in admission price)," the event website said. "Once you're through the gates, just come on down and check it out!"
According to Williams, the Sheriff's Posse has organized the Finals Rodeo every year since 1954, and it's the group's biggest fundraiser. Proceeds from the event are now split 50/50 with the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association. In recent years, the yearly rodeo raised as much as $25-$30K annually, with much of it going to local organizations like Partners, the 4H, FFA, rodeo associations and other enterprises. Williams said he hopes to raise $30,000 or more this year for Grand Valley organizations.This year's rodeo will also support the Pink Ribbon Campaign for breast cancer research. Half of Friday night's proceeds will be donated, according to the event website.A rodeo-themed parade will also lend itself to this weekend's celebratory feel. "The parade kicks off Saturday, so our competition can be in the parade, too," Williams said. "It will run Eighth Street down to Third and back on Colorado Avenue." It will additionally include livestock, rodeo queens, mounted national guard, the Sheriff's Posse, car clubs, antique vehicles and team of horses.For more information about the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association's Finals Rodeo and an event schedule, visit www.gjrodeo.com.