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The 62-year history of a great rodeo

This year marks the 62nd anniversary of the Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo. While there were rodeos in Pagosa Springs dating back into the century, the first Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo was in 1949.

In 1948, a group of local ranchers organized an effort to start a regular named rodeo series for this town. The initial group of volunteers included Glen Edmonds, Fred Harman, Daily Hott, Leon Montroy, Terry Robinson and Babe Shahan, to name a few. They collaborated with the owner of the rights to the Red Ryder registered trademark to brand this rodeo with the cartoon character that is so famous in this region. In 1949, the first rodeo was held at the site of the current Ross Aragon Community Center. Photographs show how automobiles were placed in a large circular formation to create the boundary of the rodeo arena. Spectators stood behind the cars.

Later that year, the committee advertised and sold stock in the rodeo organization, named Pagosa Springs Enterprises, and raised $15,000. With these proceeds, approximately 40 acres of land was purchased for the express use of hosting the annual rodeo. Initially, a rodeo arena was constructed with wood boards and woven wire, which allowed the 1950 Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo to take place at the same location the rodeo continues to exist today. Over time, the structures that exist on the rodeo grounds today were constructed as additional stock was sold for the purpose of raising money and creating a supporting membership.

For over 60 years, this organization has been run by local dedicated volunteers, funded with individual and business donations from the local community, and continues to be an independent, self-sustaining and successful entity.

In the mid-1990s, the organization obtained their non-profit status and renamed the organization the Western Heritage Event Center whose mission is to provide an annual three-day Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo as well as a year round venue for education and training for youth and equestrian events for Archuleta County. The Western Heritage Board is dedicated to preserving the history and traditions of the American West.

Join the fun as cowboys and cowgirls from various states compete for prizes and prize money in this sanctioned rodeo series. The rodeos are Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. and Monday, July 4, at 2 p.m. presented at the Western Heritage Event Center arena and grounds.

Tickets are available at Goodman’s Department Store and at the gate prior to the event. The cost is $10 per adult and $6 for children 12 and under. A limited number of box seats are available and can be purchased by calling 264-5000. A variety of concessions are available throughout the events.

Sponsors for this rodeo series include Pagosa Land Company, The 2R/ Ranch - Jack and Claudia Rosenbaum, Devo Capital Management, Robert D. Lindner Ranches, Rio Grande Savings & Loan, Scott Strategic Investments, Parelli Natural Horsemanship, Devine Designs International, First Southwest Bank, Grand Junction Pipe and Supply, Custom Homes by Vernon Leslie, The Junction Restaurant/Wolf Creek Gifts, Ponderosa Lumber Company, Budweiser, Silver Dollar Liquors and Pagosa Bar, Keesee Motors, Fred Harman Art Museum, and The Pagosa Springs SUN.

This traditional American rodeo is a must-see event. More rodeo information is available by calling 264-2730.

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