Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo seeks non-traditional crowd for rodeo

       “You won't recognize the rodeo this year.”
       Bill Miller, manager of the Norris-Penrose Event Center, was talking about the July 11-15 Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, which has added numerous attractions - many of them free - in an effort to make the 67th annual event “part of a larger Western celebration.”
       The changes are reflected in a partial name change, to “Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Days,” and this year's theme: “Unbridle the Experience.”
       New offerings outside Penrose Stadium will include a travelling exhibit from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, a Mountain Man encampment, Rock Ledge Ranch blacksmith demonstrations, the Southern Ute Indian dancers, trick roper Cowboy Steve, roping instruction and occasional “gunfights.”
       “It's the Disney approach,” Miller said. “The show starts when you get in line for tickets.”
       The rodeo itself, a sanctioned event in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit, is being expanded to allow more bull-riding competitors. Traditionally popular with spectators, the competition used to be limited to 60 entries. “This year we'll take 80,” Miller said. “We will start and finish with the bull riding every night.”
       Rodeo times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 11 through Saturday, July 14. The show will start at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15. Ticket prices are $27 for adults, with discounts for children, groups and military.
       Ticket-buyers will also be treated to a kids' activity called Mutton Bustin' (in which volunteers ages 4 to 6 try to ride a sheep across the arena), a freestyle motocross exhibition and (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights) live music.
       The bands will be Arch Hooks (Thursday), Chute Nine (Friday) and Sonny Burgess (Saturday).
       The activities outside the stadium will start an hour to an hour and a half before each rodeo performance.
       Returning from last year will be a chuckwagon exhibition and a carnival.
       Many of the rodeo-enhancement ideas this year came from research by the Pikes Peak or Bust committee into other successful rodeos around the country. The goal was to “to expand the base to attract the non-traditional rodeo fan,” Miller said.
       But one of this year's ideas, to have cowboys show kids how to toss a lasso, was his own. Before last year's event, he recalled, “I picked up a rope and taught one kid how. When I turned around, there were 15 kids waiting in line to learn.”

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