Carbondale rodeo kicking strong
Carbondale’s Wild West Rodeo, with a little help, could draw the best competitors from the Western Slope, organizers say.But taking the event up a notch will mean depending a lot more on volunteer help from just about everyone with an interest, from rodeo competitors to local businesses and perhaps even some fans.The town parted company with rodeo promoter Roger Frahm and his company, Rim Rock Rodeo, late last year, according to Rodeo Committee Chairman Dave Weimer.Weimer, who runs an investment counseling business, moved to Carbondale in 2003 and is credited with doing much of the work that saved the town’s rodeo from oblivion.”In the spring of ’04, I heard the rodeo wasn’t going to happen, and I wanted to keep it going,” he said in a recent news story in the Valley Journal. “One of the reasons I moved here from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., is because I wanted my kids to have a Western-style upbringing.”
Although Weimer said he had never even been to a rodeo before he moved here, he wasn’t about to let one die in a community like Carbondale.”There are deep roots here in ranching. There are good, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth-type people here,” he said. “If I still lived out on the East Coast, I would love to bring my family out for something like this. It could attract people to Carbondale. It’s a great grounding of the Western heritage.”So he went to work rounding up sponsorships from area businesses. He worked with Carbondale Recreation Director Jeff Jackel to form the Rodeo Committee, and with Frahm to get the Gus Darien Riding Arena ready for a summer’s worth of rodeos.A band of volunteers, led by rodeo bull rider Trey Fonner, worked weekends and evenings in spring 2005 to renovate the old arena, putting up modern steel-tubing fences and gates that the town purchased.Renovations will continue this year, Weimer said, if the town takes possession of a used set of bleachers that would increase the event’s seating capacity.
Jackel said he will soon be inspecting the bleachers to determine if they are useable. The bleachers belong to the Crown Mountain Recreation District in El Jebel, and Jackel said the district has offered to give a section to the town.The result of all the effort is an increasingly popular event that draws spectators from all over the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond, with up to 500 coming through the gates on any given Thursday night.Weimer and several other volunteers are taking over promotion of the event this year. Fonner will be “arena boss.” Weimer said he and others on the committee are hoping to raise between $12,000 and $15,000 in sponsorships this year to cover costs.The Rodeo Committee, which now numbers 11 local volunteers, is looking for a number of other volunteers to help put the rodeo on, from those in the dirt pulling open the gates for bulls and broncs to bust out of to people who can provide administrative help.Basically, Weimer said, they’ll use any skill.
“The bottom line is there’s not a whole lot of money to be made in the rodeo,” Weimer said. “The rodeo loses money every evening – that’s why we have sponsors.”The biggest cost involved in running a rodeo is bringing in the livestock for the different events, as well as the prize money to attract high-quality competitors.”Most folks like to win money, so we have to make it financially opportunistic for them. The more money we raise, the more we can give out,” said Weimer, who would like to see the Carbondale rodeo grow into a show that attracts some of the best riders on the Western Slope. “This is a good, local hometown rodeo. It’s come a long way, and it would be nice to move to the next level.”Those interested in volunteering or signing up for a sponsorship can call Jackel at 963-2733. Gina Guarascio of the Valley Journal contributed to this story. John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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