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Not Its First Rodeo

“It’s been around for a long time,” Rose Berner says of the Royal Gorge Rodeo. Try 137 years. It almost makes the 34 years Berner has been attending the event sound paltry. The 66-year-old was asked twenty years ago by the Royal Gorge Rodeo Association if she would stand in temporarily after their secretary left. Last year, she finally told them to get a younger secretary so they won’t be left out on a limb if something happens to her. But she’s back again this year, as the stand-in secretary, spending the days leading up to the rodeo painting funny cowboy pictures on storefront windows and hand-writing tickets to save the association the cost of printing them. She’ll be cooking the barbecue, too.

“It’s a community thing,” she says. “I’m doing it for the community.”

The rodeo, coupled with this weekend’s 71st Annual Music and Blossom Festival in Cañon City, is all about small-town community and tradition. Like a harvest celebration, but timed to acknowledge the start of the growing season, Blossom Days is a gathering of music and food. Vendors sell festival fare like corn dogs, snowcones and caramel apples, and high school and middle school bands from around the country come to perform and march alongside elaborately decorated floats in the parade.

Tonight and tomorrow night, you can head to the Cañon City Fairgrounds at 5 p.m. to taste Berner’s barbecue before heading into the rodeo pre-show at 6:30. The rodeo, which starts at 7, features everything from bareback bronc riding and steer wrestling to barrel racing and bull riding. The parade is Saturday at 1 p.m. Call Kim Biecker at 719-269-1085 or go to for more information.
Fri., May 1; Sat., May 2, 2009


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