With new grandstand roof, Carbondale rodeo hopes for big year
For the 13th year, the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo will return to the Gus Darien Riding Arena just off County Road 100 for yet another summer of events every Thursday night, starting this week at 5:30 p.m.
Described as a true hometown event and the place to be on a Thursday night in Carbondale, the rodeo looks to keep the Western heritage of the small town alive and flourishing.
This year at the Wild West Rodeo, the Gus Darien Riding Arena will feature a roof over the recently built grandstand, while the announcer’s booth was rebuilt this winter. Topping off the new additions to the arena is a pavilion with picnic tables to serve as a concession stand-like area in honor of some old ranch families in the area.
“The roof went into place this past winter, and we had a little money left over from the Garfield County leasing grant that we had, so we went ahead and rebuilt the announcer’s box,” rodeo board president Mike Kennedy said. “What everyone keeps referring to as a concession stand is actually a pavilion that was financed by the Turnbull family, which is an old ranching family around here. They wanted to build that pavilion as a tribute to some of the old ranching families here in the Roaring Fork valley.”
The pavilion will be equipped with roughly five picnic tables, according to Kennedy, and will be located near where the concession stand usually was in years past. On the back of the pavilion, old pictures, plaques and stories will be put in place to allow people to learn about some of the old ranch families in the area, keeping the history alive.
With the new roof over the grandstand, Kennedy is hoping that it will allow more people to come out and see the rodeo regardless of bad weather. In years past, rain has driven away spectators who didn’t want to sit in the elements.
Along with the new arena features, the Wild West Rodeo will also feature the campground-style parking for $20, where spectators can show up early and park right along the fence for the best view of the rodeo in the house, as well as sponsored events such as “The Time to Ride,” presented by Alpine Animal Hospital and Dr. Charles Maker, as well as the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink,” in conjunction with Wrangler.
Alpine’s event will run from July 13 through Aug. 3, where anyone can come in and pet/ride horses for the first time. The event is designed to open new doors for people who don’t get the chance to experience the rodeo up close.
“We do this to give kids the chance to get up close and personal with animals that they might not get the chance to otherwise,” rodeo board secretary Melanie Cardiff said. “The veterinarian staff will let the kids pet and ride the horses. That’s a pretty fun thing for people to experience.”
This is the third straight year that Dr. Maker and Alpine Animal Hospital will sponsor the event.
Back again for the 10th straight year is the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” event with Wrangler, scheduled for July 20. As usual, everyone is asked to wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. All proceeds from the night will go to Valley View Hospital’s Calaway-Young cancer center. The hospital is one of the main sponsors for the annual nonprofit rodeo.
In the rodeo itself, buckle winners from last season, such as the cousin combination of Tim and Matt Nieslanik, father and son, Jeff and Ty Burtard, barrel racer Sydney Surin, ropers Josh Warren and Brian Brown, and bull rider Quinton Hayden return for another go-round.
While the competitors will be the big draw for the rodeo, some of the in-arena acts are the real headliners as they provide much of the entertainment, evoking laughter and fun during pauses in the action.
Returning this year will be Joe Carr, the rodeo clown, who will work a few nights this summer. Kennedy and the rodeo board also expect John Payne — the one-armed bandit — to make an appearance this summer, but the date has not been finalized because it all revolves around when Payne is in town, according to Kennedy.
Every Thursday night this summer at the rodeo grounds in Carbondale will be a family-friendly environment and the show will go on rain or shine. Kennedy said he hopes to see an average of about 800 spectators a week.
“Hopefully we see a bigger attendance this summer than we’ve had, as well as lots of contestant participation,” Kennedy said. “We want people who come to watch to have a lot of family fun. It’s kind of the place to be for Thursday nights in Carbondale as we get quite a bit of folks who come out to all 12 rodeos throughout the summer. Plus, it’s a place to see some friends that they might not get a chance to see throughout the year. It’s a community event where people come to have a good time. It’s been pretty popular, and we’re hoping to continue that.”
Gates will open at 5:30 p.m., with slack starting at 6 p.m. The main rodeo performances will start at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday.
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