Cowboys take the bull by the horns |

Cowboys take the bull by the horns

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Leroy Baumeister is perfectly suited for his profession. He rides bulls competitively at rodeos almost every weekend of the year, as often as he can. And his last name, in German, literally means “bull master.”Which is exactly how he thinks of himself. Baumeister speaks out of the corner of his mouth, with a gravelly confidence born of years of rodeo experience.While he talks, he slowly and surely tapes up his right knee in preparation for the evening’s competition. The knee was laid out once by a kick from a bull, and now he has to tape it up before he rides. Otherwise, it’ll give under any serious amount of pressure.When he finishes, he stands up, lights a cigarette, and declares that he will win.

“I’m gonna take first tonight,” Baumeister said flatly, without any hint of sarcasm. And the way he said it, it wasn’t bravado – simply a matter of fact.Win or lose, rodeo fans turned out to watch the Baumeister and the other competitors at the 109th annual Strawberry Days Rodeo. The stands at the Glenwood Springs Rodeo Arena were so full Friday night that many people backed their pickups up to the arena fence and stood in their truckbeds to watch.Many cowboys, like Baumeister, are planning on doing well.”We’re here to win. That’s what we came for,” said Court Will, who’s competing in the team roping event. He and his partner, Mark Northcutt, are also frequent rodeo-goers, competing almost year round.Northcutt takes a slightly different, perhaps more wisened, approach to the competition.

“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. He views the rodeo as more of a gamble, a crapshoot where just about anything can and will occur. In a sport where seconds count for thousands of dollars, Northcutt’s words sound like the viewpoint of a man who’s had high hopes and seen them crushed by fate.Despite the gravity of the competition for some (a loss or a bad time could mean hundreds of dollars down the drain), the rodeo is, first and foremost, a good time.”I just love this,” said Cody Fox, reigning bareback champion of the Strawberry Days Rodeo. “It’s the adrenaline, the rush you get.”The riders aren’t the only ones getting a thrill, though.”When they open that gate, it’s an adrenaline rush for all of us,” said Leslie Torres, the event’s organizer.

Torres has been in charge of getting the rodeo under way for the past five years now, and she loves every minute of it.”For me, the best part is seeing my brother dressed up as a giant strawberry,” Torres said with a laugh, and pointed to Eric Hickerson, the Strawberry Days mascot, who was running around the grounds in a strawberry suit.The rodeo continues today, at 9 a.m., and this evening, at 6 p.m. Admission is $8. Contact John Schroyer: 945-8515, ext. 529

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