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Small-town rodeo features big-league bull riding

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Bull riding, mutton bustin’, Clay McClinton and Celebrity Buck-Off on tap this weekend

By Vicky Gits

Organizers are hoping for a big turnout Friday night when the Professional Bull Riders Enterprise Rent-A-Car tour comes to El Pinal Rodeo Grounds in Evergreen for the first time.

About 30 bull riders are expected to turn out for the contest, which features 30 top-notch animals from Cervi Ranch. Riders will be competing for $8,000 in prize money and trying to earn points for the bull-riding finals in Las Vegas. About 3,500 people are expected to attend the 2009 Evergreen Rodeo over the weekend, which features rodeo events over three days.

Ten of the 30 riders will come back for the final round, or “short go,” and out of the 10, a winner will emerge.

“We are hoping for bigger crowds because PBR is a step up,” said Kristy Tolan, president of the Evergreen Rodeo Association. Last year’s bull-riding event had only four riders. Professional rodeo has a history that goes back to 1947 in Evergreen.

The festivities begin on Friday with a 5 p.m. mini-concert by Clay McClinton, who also plays at 9 p.m. at The Little Bear.

A Celebrity Buck-Off is planned at 6 p.m. Friday at the rodeo arena, with local luminaries taking their turns on the mechanical bull. This year the brave citizens include Judy Jeronimus, Ben Jackson, Tex Reel, Mary DeBaets, Rick Egloff, Dave Marshall and “Deputy Dee” Paterson.

On Saturday, a Gold Rush-themed parade with close to 100 entries is being staged in downtown Evergreen, kicking off at the junction of Highway 74 and Upper Bear Creek Road and proceeding past Evergreen Lake to Meadow Drive.

On the lamb

There will be several opportunities for the little ones to participate in the wildly popular mutton bustin’ event, which involves putting a 5- to 7-year-old on the back of a small sheep and encouraging the budding bronco buster to hang as long as possible as the animal races around the ring.

“The kids love it, and it’s the only thing they can really do,” said Tolan, whose three grandkids have participated repeatedly. Participants are encouraged to sponsor various sheep in honor of a person or business for $25. The rodeo provides protective vests and helmets, just like the cowboys wear.

Tickets for various events are available at Safeway and King Soopers in Conifer and Evergreen and at www.evergreenrodeo.org.

Schedule of rodeo events

Friday, June 19

Professional Bull Riding Enterprise Rent-A-Car Tour

“Friday Night Bulls”

El Pinal Rodeo grounds, Highway 74 and Stagecoach Boulevard

5 p.m.: gates open

5:30 p.m.: Clay McClinton mini-concert

6 p.m.: Celebrity Buck-Off (featuring courageous celebrities Judy Jeronimus, Ben Jackson, Tex Reel, Mary DeBaets, Rick Egloff, Dave Marshall, “Deputy Dee” Paterson

7 p.m.: PBR Bull Riding

9 p.m.: Clay McClinton at The Little Bear

Saturday, June 20

7 a.m.: Kiwanis pancake breakfast

10 a.m.: Rodeo Parade; barbecue lunch at the Elks Lodge following the parade

2 p.m.: Gates open at rodeo grounds

3:15 p.m.: Queen’s contest

4 p.m.: Queen’s horsemanship contest

5 p.m.: Drill team

7 p.m.: PRCA Rodeo “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night”

Sunday June 21

2 p.m.: PRCA Rodeo (including 2010 queen coronation)

Mutton Bustin’ at rodeo grounds.

Mutton Bustin’ takes place before the rodeo at about 12:15 p.m. and during the rodeo.

Parking: $5 at Rodeo Grounds; free parking at Albertsons parking lot, with free shuttle to rodeo grounds.