Digging in their Heels: Granby rodeo adjusts to waning support
April 29, 2011
GRANBY – Organizers have scaled back the number of shows at the Granby Flying Heels Rodeo Arena due to declining sponsorships and decreasing spectator numbers.
Two years ago, the rodeo hosted as many as eight shows during the early summer at the arena. Rising fuel costs, limited sponsorships, declining gate numbers and a need for greater participation in the nonprofit Flying Heels Arena Association have led the rodeo club to reduce that to two shows during the upcoming season.
Rodeo bulls used to be contracted through the local Riata Rodeo Company, but Lorene and Eddie Linke of Granby, owners of Riata, have sold most of the stock as the couple nears retirement, according to Lorene. This has forced the rodeo club to utilize outside contractors for its bulls, located as far away as Fruita, she said.
Rather than the five-show Rodeo series featured last year, Flying Heels will stage a show Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 28, and one during the Fourth of July holiday on Saturday, July 2, right before the Granby fireworks display.
Both shows will have all the same adult and youth events that have been featured in past shows, Lorene Linke said. Participation is open to any adult or child (with parental permission) who wants to enter. Each show is also planned to feature the horsemanship of the Westernaires.
Because of the reduced number of shows and because the rodeo had a successful 2010 Fourth of July show, the club plans to provide prize money to events that attract three or more challengers in order to boost participation during the 2011 season, Linke said.
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And by reducing expenses with fewer shows, Lorene Linke said the rodeo group is hoping to sustain the attraction.
“We want to be sure it keeps going to keep some of the western heritage alive and well,” she said.
The Flying Heels Arena was built in 1969. Having started out as casual Sunday get-togethers that featured roping and barrel races, the Flying Heels Rodeo has been a Granby mainstay ever since while it evolved into a full-fledged rodeo.
But due to people who were involved with the rodeo moving away from the county in recent years, Linke said it’s become that much more difficult to produce a series.
The rodeos have come to be a local novelty and tourism attraction, according to Granby Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sharon Brenner.
“We get hundreds of call each summer asking about the rodeo,” she said. Aside from the two shows in the upcoming tourist season, “this year we’ll have to find something else for them,” Brenner said.
One option will be weekend ropings at Flying Heels Arena through the local roping club, open free to spectators throughout the summer.
To re-energize the rodeo program, Linke said the rodeo club needs new volunteers, new members, and new sponsors.
“We need new worker members,” she said of the existing 15-member rodeo club.
“Some of us are getting rather old.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603