I may lose my native Texan status by saying this, but I had never been to a rodeo before moving to Colorado. While the deep-fried butter and carnival games always seemed enticing, my Hoosier parents weren’t all that keen on taking us kids to Houston’s crowded rodeo in the middle of Texas’ brutal summer. This year, to make up for lost time, I’ll be hitting all of the Colorado rodeos I can. Here’s what we found out about Colorado’s family-friendly options for rodeo fun this summer.
June 13-August 22
The Snowmass Rodeo is in its 45th year of Western tradition, serving up barbecue every night before the family-friendly rodeo. Festivities include mutton bustin’, a calf scramble, roping dummies, a mechanical bull, a horse bouncy house, and more. Kids ages four to 10 can take part in the calf scramble, a contest to grab ribbons from the calves’ tails and return them to the Arena Official for an award—but all participants receive a prize. The kids mutton bustin’ is a crowd favorite for kids ages four to seven, who must hold on to a woolly sheep for five seconds. Participants must sign up for these events ahead of time at the rodeo. The gates open at 5 p.m. and the rodeo starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and free for kids age 10 and under. 2735 Brush Creek Rd., Snowmass Village.
Thursdays, June 21-August 9
Now in its 17th year, the Beaver Creek Rodeo Series has become the main event of summer in the Vail Valley. Every Thursday night professional riders take center stage while attendees are invited to take part in a range of interactive events like mutton bustin’ for the kids or a team burro race for brave teens and adults. The calf scramble is free every Thursday night for kids ages five to 10, and the first five kids to pull a ribbon off a calf’s tail win a prize. Little ones, age three and under, can take part in mutton bustin’ to see how long they can hold on for $25. This year, Beaver Creek is debuting a new activity, Balloon Stampede, for kids ages 10 to 17. Each kid will be fitted with a helmet with horns attached, and will compete to pop as many balloons as possible during the short event. In addition to fun competitions, the Beaver Creek rodeo offers family-friendly food vendors, a mechanical bull for Mom and Dad to try, face painting, and more. Tickets are $22 for adults, $14 for kids ages 13 to 17, and free for kids age 12 and under. Beaver Creek Village Plaza, Avon.
June 22-July 4
This year, the Greeley Stampede will celebrate its 97th anniversary, with foot-stomping fun for the whole family. There will be a faith and family night featuring Matthew West and a Kids Rodeo on June 24, which includes more than 145 contestants facing off in various competitions—from stick pony races for kids as young as three, to competitions from senior bull riders up to age 18. Throughout the rodeo, check out the free Kids Corral, the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, free face painting, a petting zoo, and the grizzly bear experience workshop where kids get to learn more about what bears eat and how they behave. Tickets are $15-$20 for everyone age seven and up, and $5.50 for kids age six and under. 600 N. 14th Ave., Greeley.
June 30- July 4
“Steamboat was a ranching town before it was anything else,” says John Shipley of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series. To honor it’s ranching roots, this rodeo is focused on ranching competitions like steer wrestling, bareback riding, team roping, and bull riding. For kids and families, the rodeo series offers a ram scramble for kids age five and under, competing to grab the ribbon off of a small sheep’s tail for a prize. For bigger kids, ages six to 12, the calf scramble is more their size, racing after a calf to win a gift card to Wrangler and a belt buckle. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids, and free for kids age six and under. 401 Howelsen Pkwy., Steamboat Springs.
Located in a beautiful setting overlooking the Rocky Mountains, Rooftop Rodeo is celebrating its 91st year of boot-stompin’ fun with a parade to kick off the rodeo and celebrate homesteading heroes. At this year’s Rooftop Rodeo check out mutton bustin’, dress as a rodeo clown night for kids on July 5, or race after sheep to grab the $5 bill attached to their wool (for ages eight through 12). Stick around for the Homesteading Heroes Parade on July 6 to see bands, horseback riders, rodeo royalty, trick riders, and more Western flair. Tickets are $15-$30. 1209 Manford Ave., Estes Park.
Cattlemen’s Days promises the same kind of boot-stomping entertainment that Gunnison pioneers enjoyed, but on a grander scale. During the week, check out the many 4-H and livestock shows, where kids get to meet all kinds of animals like sheep and goats, and see dog and cat shows. Thursday to Saturday the family-friendly rodeo will have different themes and fun for kids like kids mutton bustin’ before ending with a grand parade on Saturday. Tickets are $20 for adults, and $5 for kids age 12 and under with purchase of an adult ticket. 275 S. Spruce St., Gunnison.
Operating since 1897, this rodeo marks the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration. Located just under two hours from Denver, families can enjoy free pancake breakfasts, attend star-studded concerts with guests like Florida Georgia Line, Toby Keith, and Dierks Bentley, or head out to the Carnival Americana for indulgent fair food and games. For kids and families, the opening day celebration on July 20 is the place to be, with unlimited carnival rides all day for $25 and a grand parade. During the week, check out the Indian Village, where kids can make crafts or head out to the Old Frontier Town to meet with Old West characters before stopping by the petting zoo. Tickets are $17-$27. 1210 W. 8th Ave., Cheyenne, Wyoming.
What started in the 1940s as a trail ride up Lookout Mountain to Buffalo Bill’s grave has now expanded into the largest community festival in Golden. This year, the fest will put on events like Cody’s Wild West Extravaganza, a 90-minute experience for the whole family with an all-female horseback riding team, traditional Irish pipes and drums, and a grand opening flag ceremony with an American Bald Eagle. On July 29, head out for mutton bustin’ for kids ages five to seven. Free admission. Downtown Golden, 11th St., Golden.