Janet Engel: Keeping western heritage and traditions alive in the Fraser Valley. | SkyHiNews.com

Janet Engel: Keeping western heritage and traditions alive in the Fraser Valley.

Kristen Lodge/Outdoor Adventures
Grand County, CO Colorado
Courtesy photoJanet Engel

My favorite part of rodeo is the beginning when the woman and her horse rides into the arena. She rides the perimeter of the arena, fast, very fast, holding an American Flag. I wonder how her cowboy hat stays on.

Now I know that she is the Rodeo Queen. Until I met Janet Engel, it was the only part of the rodeo I liked, and the bull riders, of course.

Janet is a profession barrel racer. In June I went out to the John Work Arena to watch the Jackpot Series with the hope of learning more about rodeo and barrel racing. The Jackpot Series is every Thursday night at the arena in Fraser from June 10 to Aug. 12 (except Aug. 5). This series allows pee wees and juniors to race for money.

This year is the 23rd anniversary of the series, in which beginners or riders with a new horse can compete with a less expensive entry in a non-competitive environment.

“It’s really about kids and the next generation coming up, “Janet says. “Western tradition and heritage is fading. This series gives the kids something to do while teaching them sportsmanship and how to compete.”

Janet and the Engel family have a long history in the Winter Park / Fraser Valley, from skiing, rodeo, music and the arts. Janet started keeping horses in the summer of 1968 at the Hughes Chairlift and the Meteor T Bar at Winter Park Resort, presently the Arrow Chair. Now, her horses are kept in a meadow on County Road 5. The Engel Family barn in the lower meadow is the original town hall for the town of Eastom.

Janet turned pro in 1992. In barrel racing a horse and rider complete a clover-leaf pattern around barrels. This event combines the horse’s athletic ability and the horsemanship skills of a rider. The purpose is to make a run as fast as possible. She bought her horse Jo in 1999 when she was American Quarter Horse Association Reserve World Champion.

“I am very competitive by nature and enjoy the thrill of trying to do the very best I can at that moment. I think the most important lessons were taught by my parents,” Janet says.

“They always asked us two questions: Did you have fun and how did you do? For them the most important part was having fun, which is still true for me to this day. I have been blessed with some very nice horses and have been very fortunate in the world of skiing and rodeo. I feel an attachment to the places where I compete, like Fraser, my home arena. It is a place I want to do well.”

There are many people who were instrumental in getting the High County Stampede started including the Engels, Bob Temple and Curt Thurston. Become a fan on Facebook to read the stories about how the High County Stampede got started and to get updated rodeo results.

Now that I know more about the rodeo and its history, I can’t wait for opening day. I look forward to watching the Rodeo Queen ride into the arena with the flag, but barrel racing is now my favorite part of the rodeo.

Meghan Cameron is the royalty for the 2010 High Country Stampede Rodeo, and Kayla DeSanti is the Princess. Rodeo is about supporting western heritage and our community so I’m getting my cowgirl on – cowboy hat and boots – and heading down at the John Work arena Saturday Night at 7 p.m.

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