Welcome to the
Royal Gorge Rodeo Association!!!!
HISTORY OF ROYAL GORGE RODEO ASSOCIATION
This photo was taken in 1937 and shows an arena being put
up by, from left to right:
one annual celebration which has been recognized in Canon City for 130
years. To the citizens of Fremont County it is much more than a
rodeo. It is something of a homecoming and a celebration honoring
the pioneers of the area.
The first event was in 1872 and it soon became known as the "Old Settlers Reunion". this began the custom of honoring the pioneers of the community. This was cattle country and throughout the long history of the annual celebration the cattlemen and their cowboys have had a prominent part in providing the entertainment.
In the days of Buffalo Bill it became a "Wild West Show" and later the royal Gorge Roundup. Now the famous show is known as a Pioneer Celebration and the "Royal Gorge Rodeo".
Among the "Old Timers" who were active in producing the early shows were Woody Higgins, Charles Canterbury Sr., Dudley P. VanBuskirk, W.A. Chapson, Elmer Canterbury, Clyde Chess, George Green, Ted Harding, W.A. MacKenzie, Ed Stinemeyer, and Frank Stinemeyer.
To these and others whose names are not so familiar are due the credit for keeping alive the spirit of the celebration. With the passing of time these pioneers became less active and interest in the annual reunion seemed to be wanting.
Then in 1937 a group of younger men took over and decided to put on a modern rodeo and racing program. The old fair grounds in the north part of town, which had been the scene of the wild west shows and roundups, was no longer available so the event was staged in Hollywood Flats, site of the new Veterans Memorial Park.
The event was successful and its' sponsors organized the Canon City Rodeo Association. Through the efforts of W.A. MacKenzie and Roy Best, the present site was secured for a permanent home for the show. Then began the building of stands, stables, chutes, and corrals. Most of the material was donated by the Speedway Corp. and came from an old hotel they were dismantling in Salida. With volunteer labor, bleachers were built to seat 800 and a successful show was staged in 1940.
The present grandstand was built from plans draw2n by John Beaton in 1952. Much of the materials and most of the labor was donated. The plans were approved and Beaton appointed chairman of the building committee on May 10. Through the cooperation of many public spirited citizens a remarkable feat was accomplished and 27 days later the grandstand was completed. The show opened on June 8, the finishing touches added late the night before.
In 1955 the association provided land on which the Fremont County 4-H Council constructed buildings. They have a 99 year lease paying $1.00 a year. These are used for their annual fair, 4-H meetings, and other activities. The Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1939. No member collects any wages and gives of their labor, time and material to constantly upgrade the facilities.
In the last 12 years they have completely rebuilt all of the corrals, using pipe with metal posts. They have also built new bleachers, added metal bucking chutes, put in new water lines everywhere. Members have updated the concession stands and other areas. Any monetary gain from events are used for the needed improvements.
The grounds are open to the public at all times, except for reserved dates for events. There are gymkhanas, County Fair, Barrel Racing, Horse shows, Rodeos, Circus, Team Penning, Dog Training & shows, Metal Detectors, Bike Rodeos, Campouts, and more held on the grounds.
The association has 24.16 acres of ground where the first rodeo was held in 1939, and have had a rodeo at this site every year since.
The annual "Royal Gorge Rodeo" is held every year on the first weekend in May. The weekend is filled with a Sunrise Lions Breakfast, Cowboy Church and Bull Riding, all in conjunction with the Canon City Music & Blossom Festival. We hope to see you all there!!
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