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Pikes Peak rodeo blends region's love for Western lifestyle, military

July 13,2016 09:20

photo - Steer Wrestler Ty Lang brings down a steer on his way into the top Caption + Steer Wrestler Ty Lang brings down a steer on his way into the top three during the finals of the 2015 Cinch Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Saturday night, July 11, 2015, at ...and more »



Caption +
Steer Wrestler Ty Lang brings down a steer on his way into the top three during the finals of the 2015 Cinch Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Saturday night, July 11, 2015, at the Norris-Penrose Event Center. Photo by Mark Reis, The GazetteFor Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo president Rich Bender, this week at the Norris-Penrose Event Center combines two important aspects of Colorado Springs.
"It's a great marriage," Bender said as preparations continued at the arena Monday. "We honor the real, deep connection this city has with its Western heritage and the military that is such a major part of it."
The rodeo is also a way to draw some of the nation's top cowboys and cowgirls to the region. The four-day, five-performance event offers a big payday - $15,000 - to the Saturday night Super Shootout champion with $5,000 to the runner-up and $1,500 to the third-place finisher in each of the seven disciplines.

Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Parade
Organizers of the event, which has raised almost $3 million for military servicemen and women and their families in its 76 years' existence, say that is the biggest single-performance payout in Colorado.
The Saturday Shootout will feature the top-two finishers from the previous four sessions, including the Saturday matinee. Out of those eight competitors, three advance to the Super Shootout and a chance at that night's checks.
The 3-year-old format was tweaked recently, expanding from two to three check winners in each event in hopes of amping up the intensity Saturday night. In the previous two years, if their only competitor did not score, the remaining athlete would play it safe; checking account-friendly for the competitor, but hardly dramatic.
The rodeo is popular despite not being a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned event that awards standings points toward qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Event organizers said dropping that sanction three years ago allowed them to find additional sponsors and make sure the rodeo generates more money to aid members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
The competitive events include bareback bronc riding, barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and team roping. There is also ample pre- and post-rodeo events including pony rides, mutton busting, mechanical bull riding and a live band and beer garden.
The rodeo also salutes the military with a different branch honored each night.
"For four days, we recognize the men and women that helped make us free," Bender said. "They are why we live in the greatest country in the world."

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