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An iconic local rodeo celebrates 81 years of history, nostalgia, and newness

Horse and Rider

Photo by Brian Q. Gauck

Annual prestigious rodeo coming to Colorado Springs! 

This year’s 81st Annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo/NFR Open (previously known as the National Circuit Finals Rodeo), from July 13-16, will feature the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit finals championships! What does this mean for fans – and first timers alike? A bigger rodeo, with more than 200 contestants every one of them a regional circuit title holder – from 12 U.S. circuits and Canada, with finalists competing in eight standard events for a $1 million purse. Five competition rounds over four days, culminating in the semifinals and finals of Saturday, July 16, when national circuit champions will be crowned, will be broadcast. The champions may qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas later in the year. 

Presented by:

Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Logo

“This year’s NFR Open provides the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo with the opportunity to host an even more elite level of competition,” said Dan Ferguson, PPBR president. “This event will showcase the best in the sport of pro rodeo and give our rodeo and Colorado Springs national visibility.” 

Adding to the excitement is the addition of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Ladies Breakaway Roping, a Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo first. 

The grounds will open at 4 p.m. for evening performances at 6:45 p.m., and 10 a.m. for Saturday matinees that start at 12:15 p.m. Come early and stay late, because there is a whole lot of action in addition to the bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, breakaway roping, and barrel racing. There is something for everyone, including pony rides, a barrel train, a petting zoo, roping demonstrations and a horse drawn wagon for kids, and live music and dancing at the Coors Roadhouse Saloon for adults.  

Family favorites include mechanical bull riding, checking out an old west show, trying some axe-throwing, and participating in Mutton Bustin’ – for kids between the ages of 4- to 9-years who do not weight more than 50 pounds!  

Sell-out crowds are expected, so get your tickets today 

Mutton Bustin'

Photo by Brian Q. Gauck

Rodeo: A part of the Colorado Springs’ community history and heritage 

The spirit of the Old West comes alive each year at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. Founded by Spencer Penrose in the late 1930s, the blend of performance and contest, pageantry and ritual has been hosted in various locations throughout the decades (on the grounds of The Broadmoor Hotel, the Will Rogers Stadium, the Pikes Peak Equestrian Center, the Colorado Springs World Arena, and Norris Penrose Event Center), but the spectacle starring top rodeo talent and action has remained the same. Also unchanged is the PPBR’s mission to provide quality-of-life initiatives for local military members and their families in the Pikes Peak Region, home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, NORAD/NORTH COM, U.S. SPACECOM, Shriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson. One hundred percent of rodeo proceeds fund support services for this esteemed group.

“I am proud to be associated with the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, a top attraction in Colorado Springs that is a prime example of the growing sport and industry,” said Rodeo General Manager Cory Wall, a former pro rodeo athlete. “Since 1946, the event has benefited military families in the Pikes Peak Region, with the first year following a three-year hiatus – a result of World War II, from 1942-1945 – dedicated to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war. In a word, rodeo is Americana.”

The pride Wall speaks of is felt by those leading the rodeo lifestyle, from the cowboys to the announcers, contractors, secretaries, timers, pickup men, chute laborers, specialty act personnel, and rodeo producers, along with the 300 “Ramrods” (volunteers), many of whom are from the military and American Legion, who will be working at the upcoming event.

In fact, each day of the rodeo is dedicated to military facilities that call the Pikes Peak Region home: 

Wednesday, July 13 – Fort Carson Night, sponsored by Northwestern Mutual.

Thursday, July 14 – Missile Defense and First Responders Night, sponsored by UC Health.

Friday, July 15 – Space Night, sponsored by The Boeing Company.

Saturday, July 16 – US. Air Force Academy, sponsored by USAA (Matinee) and NORAD/U.S. NORTH COM, sponsored by Lockheed Martin (Evening).

We could not do what we do without the support of these and other sponsors who enable us to give back.

Cadets PPBR

Photo by Brian Q. Gauck

Colorado knows – and values – rodeo!

Year after year, people – including many active duty and retired military – return to the Pikes Peak or Bust RodeoIt truly is a family affair, where spectators can watch bullfighters, the barrel man, the Pikes Peak Range Rider Pivots, or the Rangerettes or Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard and the year’s Girl of the West and her aide. The sights and sounds send hearts pumping and adrenaline racing, buoyed by the interesting, entertaining, and educational narrative provided by some of the best announcers in the business!

The legacy of rodeo in the Pikes Peak Region was cemented – literally 30 years ago, when the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association located its National Headquarters and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs!

As Ralph Clark said, “Anyone who has ever experienced the thrill of rodeo life wishes it could go on forever.”

Residents of the Pikes Peak Region, and the rodeo-lovers who travel from all over the country to attend the festivities, can rest assured that the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is not going anywhere and that it will continue to provide wholesome entertainment for generations to come!

Get your tickets to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo here.


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