Cowboys stampede to GJ

A bareback rider shows good form on a horse which is getting lots of air at the Mesa County fairgrounds.

When the first bronc comes out of the chute Friday at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, it will highlight more than a half century of rodeos put on by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Posse in this community.

It will also signal the beginning of this year’s Colorado Pro Rodeo Association Finals Rodeo.

Those 50-plus years of rodeos staged by the Sheriff’s Posse have seen some of the top stars in the rodeo world competing in Grand Junction.

Along with the rodeo, there have been staged gun fights and unique races.

During the first couple of years of the rodeo here, a Pony Express-style horse race was held, with teams from Glenwood Springs, Gunnison, Meeker and elsewhere galloping 60 miles from different points on the compass in relay rides to converge at the old V.F.W. rodeo grounds east of 28 Road.

The 10 riders of the Meeker Saddle Club won the first race in 1957 and collected a $270 purse.

In the early years, the rodeo became known as the Colorado Stampede. By the third year it became a
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo.

It remained a PRCA-sanctioned event until 2002, when the cost of staging such an event became cost prohibitive, said George Decker, who currently heads up the rodeo effort for the Sheriff’s Posse.

The posse decided to end the Colorado Stampede.

Soon after, officials with the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association learned of the decision, and asked members of the Sheriff’s Posse if they’d be interested in hosting the state pro rodeo finals with the CPRA.

Prior to that, the finals had moved to a different location each year, and the CPRA was looking for a permanent home for the event. It has been staged in Grand Junction every year since 2002.

The CPRA finals include nine events, two more than PRCA events. In addition to the traditional bronc and bull riding, barrel racing and roping, there is mixed team roping in which men and women compete together, and break-away roping.

The top 12 finishers in each event — as determined in approximately 25 CPRA rodeos held around the state this year — are expected in Grand Junction for the finals this weekend.

The bucking stock is chosen based on votes from the competitors.

The CPRA Finals Rodeo begins at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the fairgrounds, and at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for youngsters under 18. Children under 6 years old are free.


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