Carbondale rodeo begins summer series |

Carbondale rodeo begins summer series

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
Paul Conrad Aspen Times file

CARBONDALE ” The Carbondale Wild West Rodeo opens its 2008 season Thursday with expanded seating, improved lighting and some new events.

The rodeo, now in its fourth season, will continue for 12 weeks at the Gus Darien Riding Arena, about a mile east of Carbondale on County Road 100. Rodeos will take place every Thursday, rain or shine, organizers said. The championship finals will take place Aug. 21.

Admission to the rodeo is $8 per person, or $25 per carload up to six people, and $5 for each additional passenger. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., and the action begins with the “slack” preliminary elimination for the calf-roping contest at 6:30.

The festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. with the Grand Entry, a ceremonial ride featuring the Rodeo Royalty ” Queen Adeline May Hyatt, 20, of Glenwood Springs; Queen Attendant Kaytie Chapman, 16, Carbondale; and Princess Danielle Brownell, 12, Carbondale ” and the Cedar Ridge Ranch Riders of Missouri Heights.

Following the opening ceremonies, the rodeo gets going with the first round of bullriders, and continues until well after dark with calf roping, barrel riding and a new event, steer riding (for competitors aged 16 years or younger.)

Chief among this year’s improvements to the facility, according to Carbondale Recreation Director Jeff Jackel, is the new, 300-seat bleachers purchased for about $29,000 from Bleachers International in Elizabeth, Colo.

With 15 rows of seats and an aisle up the middle, the bleachers basically double the seating capacity for the event, which also attracts a host of vehicles that park around the northern side of the arena for tailgate parties and barbecues.

The cost of the bleachers, including installation, is being shared by the nonprofit group Carbondale Wild West Rodeo Committee, which saved the rodeo from extinction in 2004, when rodeo impresario Roger Frahm of DeBeque announced he lost money on the rodeo’s first season in 2003 and would not be bringing it back. The group of local businessmen rallied to the cause and kept the rodeo alive ” and ultimately took it over.

According to real estate broker Mike Kennedy, the nonprofit’s vice president, the event draws around 1,000 spectators each week, along with 150 contestants in the various events who pay $50 for the right to pit their riding, roping or wrangling skills against beasts of varying size and ferocity.

Jackel said the town has leased a field just north of the rodeo arena for parking to accommodate some of the 300 cars driven by spectators, many of which often line County Road 100.

Also new this year is a special rodeo hotline for parents hoping to register their youngsters for the Mutton Busting competition, which has proven so popular that an increasing number of hopefuls have been turned away.

The hotline number is 923-9270, and parents should call between 6 and 8 p.m. on Tuesdays to sign their kids up for the competition that Thursday.

Food will be on sale, from Big Momma’s Catering, the Senior Matters group (selling watermelon and snowcones) and the local 4-H Club with its traditional popcorn booth.

No liquor will be sold on the premises, Jackel said, but patrons are permitted to bring their own beer or other alcoholic refreshments.

For the second year in a row, the rodeo will team up with the Susan G. Komen-Aspen Foundation, for the “Tough Enough To Wear Pink Rodeo” on July 17. Jackel said breast cancer survivors will be admitted free, and that 10 percent of the gate receipts for that night will be donated to the foundation’s efforts to cure breast cancer.

In addition to the Thursday rodeos, other events take place at the Darien Arena, including “Horse Games,” the Open Gymkhana Buckle Series of riding competitions that take place through the summer, on June 22, July 20 and Aug. 24. To learn more, call Lisa Nieslanik at 319-6955.

For more on the Carbondale rodeo, log on to or call Jackel at 963-2733.