While cowboys and cowgirls rode off into the sunset Sunday evening, the 117th edition of the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo entered local history books as a success. Almost $55,000 was awarded to the top competitors in six events just slightly under last year's total purse.
While no animals or humans suffered serious injury, there were a few cowboys who took minor hits, said the rodeo's sponsorship chairman, Dan Frost.
The most serious injury took place early Saturday, when pickup man John Kissel was kneed in the kidneys by a bareback rider.
"He got hurt pretty good," Frost said. "He's still walking around with medical equipment attached to him. But these cowboys are tough. He says he's still gonna rope Tuesday and Wednesday in Durango."
Similarly tough were two unidentified and unqualifying bronc riders one of whom got "hung up" after being bucked from his steed.
"That horse drug him around the arena three times," Frost said. "But after about an hour-and-a-half, he was up walking around. And then another bronc rider got his face broke open. But he was walking around about an hour later, too, with a big ol' wad of chew in his mouth."
According to Frost, excitement at this year's rodeo twice reached a fevered pitch.
"Out of the complete rodeo, all four performances, only six bulls got roped," he said. "And there was a bucking horse named Lucky Seven that's so tough, most cowboys just don't want to ride him. But he got rode Sunday."
Although attendance numbers were not yet available at press time, Frost said that he and other rodeo organizers were all pleased with the turnout.
"Saturday night was pretty much standing room only," he said. "On Sundays, we're pleased if we reach 40 percent capacity, because that's a tough one to fill but we probably had 60 percent, so we did really, really well.
"This was the best rodeo that's been put on in years in attendance, entertainment, everything," Frost said.
There was one downside, he admitted.
"There were a number of riders who were scheduled for other rodeos and they just didn't get here in time."
First-place rodeo winners
Bareback Riding: Forest Bramwell, $2,492.10
Calf Roping: Cutler Parsons, $1,120.53
Saddle Bronc Riding: J.R. Blomberg, $1,444.90
Steer Wrestling: Damien Padillo, $1,081.73
Team Roping: Denton Payne and Tom Bill Johnson, $734.86 each
Women's Barrel Racing: Elizabeth Crowson, $1,119.11
Bull Riding: Jerry Shepherd, $1969.90