Bulls, horses and lassos are rarely the images conjured up when folks discuss high school sports.
But some 300 teenage cowpokes think it'll take just about eight seconds -- the length of most bull rides -- to change that concept when they compete in the Colorado State High School Rodeo Finals, starting at 10 a.m. today at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 West Sixth Avenue in Golden.
Bull riders, calf ropers and barrel racers square off daily for the state's top awards, as well as a chance to represent the Centennial State at the National High School Rodeo in Gillette, Wyoming in July. The final showdown will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 26.
While the majority of the young athletes hail from rural outposts, more teens from the metro area participate each year. For example, the winner of the last three state bull-riding championships was Longmont's Kody Lostroh. The nineteen-year-old has used the local event as a springboard to the pro circuit, and is currently among the top twenty in the Professional Bull Riders' world rankings.
"Bull riding is by far the most popular event," says the Colorado High School Rodeo Association's Tom Bashline. "It's the thrill, the danger aspect of it, that people like so much."
Tickets for the rodeo finals are $5; children ten and under are admitted free. For information, visit www.CSHSRA.org/cshsra_mainpage.htm or call 303-271-6600. -- Cub Buenning
Wild and Woolly
The Graze moves sheepishly into Vail.
There's good and bad news for fans of summertime follies. First, the grim tidings: Big Wheels, Brews and Chili, the annual beginning-of-summer festival in Vail, is no more. And the good news? Things aren't that baaaaaad. Even though visitors can't race kiddie conveyances down Vail's streets anymore, they can bring a favorite ram, lamb or ewe to Vail's newest festival, The Graze.
The festival's signature event is the Running of the Sheep, in which grazers may sign up to sponsor a woolly competitor. If the critter wins, backers corral prizes such as a mountain bike, a kayak, a pair of downhill skis. There's also a dodgeball tournament (which organizers call "sheep ball") and an Off-the-Wall Ski Boot Olympics. For refreshment, the herd can satisfy its hunger at Heavy Grazing, an appetizer battle, and wash down all that fodder with microbrews hawked on the streets of Vail Village. For information, call 1-970-926-4799. -- Amber Taufen