Family night and rodeo kicks off Wednesday |

Family night and rodeo kicks off Wednesday

Christine Ina Casillas
Eagle County Fair and Rodeo Queen Hanna Nelson posts the colors at the start of Wednesday's rodeo.

And the broncos were ready.When the gates released, the hooves pounded, dirt splattered and the riders held on tightly. The crowd, which had waited with baited breath, roared and cheered during the performance.The lights of the stadium at the Eagle County Fairgrounds shined brightly Wednesday for the opening of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and family night at the 2003 Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.The bareback bronco riding takes eight seconds or less. Will Lowe, of Canyon, Texas, had the lead Wednesday night with a 7.9 score.But bronco rider Austin Griffith of Stephenville, Texas, scoffed.”I get all the big money and all the big girls,” Griffith said before getting on his horse for the bareback-riding event.Most of the bronco riders are on the fair circuit, gauging the best rodeos to attend for the most money, said H.T. Wilson of Bennett, Colo.The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo provided some of the best prize money in the state, Wilson said.Wilson started bareback riding 12 years ago when he was in high school. Some friends encouraged him to get on the back of a horse and he immediately took to the sport. He now travels around the country and competes in events.”The bronco riding is a lot harder than the bull riding,” said Jack Laman, a 32-year rodeo clown and announcer.Wilson agreed.”They tear up your shoulders, your back and your neck,” Wilson said. “They can rip you to shreds. It’s just the sheer power and drive of them. They’ll really jar you.”The broncos are bred to buck, Laman said.”If one bronco bucks well, then the next generation will have that natural instinct to buck just as well,” Laman said. “They know what they’re doing. They know they’re supposed to buck. That’s what they’re used for anyway.”The horses buck one time at an event only, he said. Then, they don’t buck again for another two to three weeks.Laman said he’s semi-retired but he attends the events all the time.A pair of calf ropers, boyfriend and girlfriend from Wyoming, said they barely made the show. The traffic along the freeways from Wyoming stalled them. They arrived right as they were called into the arena.Trailers and trucks flooded the interstate, said Eagle County resident Diane Irwin.”I was in Denver earlier today, and on my way back I passed a ton of trailers,” Irwin said. “There was a ton of people coming to this rodeo tonight.”The rodeo is a way for people to see a different side of the animals, she said.”The rodeo exposes kids who don’t live on the ranch, but by coming to these events they can have that ranch-like experience,” she said.The first night is filled with different events, she said.The earlier events of the rodeo allowed the kids who do live on the farms to show their talents in other categories, such as showing pigs, goats and cows, said Eagle County resident Kimberly Spahmer.”These kids all get ready during the day to show their animals and to win the ribbons,” Spahmer said. “Then they have to sell them and use that money for other things.”The rodeo queen and her royalty all quickly prepared before the opening ceremonies.”No hats fell off,” Spahmer said. “Everything is running like clockwork. And the girls really flowed into it. It’s been a perfect night.”Eagle County Fair & Rodeo 2003 scheduleAll the events take place at the Eagle County Fairgrounds in Eagle.Admission to several of the Fair events is free and parking is always free.Friday, Aug. 19 a.m. – 8 p.m.: Exhibit Hall open to public.9 a.m.: 4-H beef show.11 a.m.: Carnival opens.1 p.m.: 4-H rabbit show.2 p.m.: 4-H demonstration contest in the Exhibit Hall.3 p.m.: 4-H cat show in the Exhibit Hall.6 p.m.: 4-H fashion Revue in the Exhibit Hall.7 p.m.: Dessert in the Exhibit Hall.8 p.m.: PRCA Rodeo/T.G.I.F. Night.Saturday, Aug. 29 a.m. – 9 p.m.: Exhibit Hall open to public.9 a.m.: 4-H Round Robin Showmanship.9:30 a.m.: Pretty baby contest registration in the Exhibit Hall.10 a.m.: Pretty baby contest in the Exhibit Hall.10 a.m.: Carnival opens.Noon : Salsa Contest in the Exhibit Hall (register 9 – 11 a.m.)3 p.m.: Vegetable sculpting contest.4 p.m.: Junior livestock auction.7 p.m.: Dessert in Exhibit Hall.8 p.m.: PRCA Rodeo/Junior livestock buyer night.Sunday, Aug. 39 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Carnival and vendors open/family picnic day.10 a.m.: Checkout of exhibits from Exhibit Hall.Noon: 4-H dog show.For more information call 328-3646.On the Web: Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at

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