The July 18 edition of the Coleadero Rodeo at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds was lethal: two cattle had to be put down and nine were injured -- including seven that were "de-gloved" (their tails were torn off) in an event known as steer-tailing.
The rodeo happened as scheduled on August 8, despite objections from PETA and a Jeffco commissioner -- and steer tailing didn't take place. But there's no guarantee it won't return.
According to Jacki Kelley, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, David Martinez, who co-promotes Coleadero with his father Miguel, "decided early Friday afternoon to stop his plan for steer-tailing on Sunday."
Kelley's not sure "what compelled them to make him to make this good decision." Perhaps it was the fact that both Martinezes face misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in relation to the July 18 rodeo. Or maybe it was "the phone calls and e-mails he'd been receiving from citizens who were very displeased with this event. And I know this was happening, because he shared that with us."
In addition, the sheriff's office "got e-mails and phone calls from people across the country, too. They were very supportive of the sheriff's decision to try to stop this event, and for charging them for the previous event."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The JCSO planned a major show of force at the Sunday event. The younger Martinez "knew we would enforce the law and shut down the event if it was causing harm to animals," Kelley notes. "We shared our intentions with him."
After he blinked, Kelley says her office scaled back its response. The event was slated to get underway at noon, and while it didn't actually start until a couple of hours later, sheriff's personnel could tell that Martinez had kept his no-steer-tailing pledge. "They didn't even have cattle on site," she points out. "They had bulls and broncos, and that looked like the direction he was going to go." This was subsequently confirmed during the rodeo itself by Jeffco deputies, supplemented by staffers from the county's animal control division and representatives from the Department of Agriculture.
But while Kelly is pleased that steer tailing didn't take place this weekend, she says Coleadero has three more rodeos slated for the Jefferson County Fairgrounds -- two in September, one in October. And thus far, the Martinezes haven't pledged to omit this feature from those exhibitions.
"We believe their original intention was to have steer tailing at those events. So this week, we plan to have additional conversations with them to see what their plans are now," Kelley says. "Our hope is obviously that they've decided to pull this event from any rodeo that takes place in our county. But if they choose to bring it back, we'll be there."